Despite a few hiccups initially, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has managed to exert his influence over the players at Stamford Bridge.
After an impressive display with the Italian side at Euro 2016, it was time for Antonio Conte to make a return to club football. Jose Mourinho’s underwhelming run as Chelsea boss saw the board part ways with him, and Guus Hiddink saw out his tenure as interim manager until the end of the season.
Despite having no experience managing in England’s top tier, Conte marshaled his side to three straight victories taking them to the top of the league table along with the two Manchester clubs – United and City.
However, once the international break kicked in, fatigue and injuries played their toll on Conte’s plans and his side failed to win a single league game in September. But after the implementation of a back-three in the second half of the Arsenal game, Chelsea are still to have their defence breached in the Premier League.
After ten games, the Blues have accumulated 22 points and are just a solitary point adrift of leaders Manchester City. An impressive feat for a manager that has never managed in the Premier League, but just how does he compare with his predecessors under Roman Abrahimovich’s reign?
Guus Hiddink (2009)
Record: W8, D1, L1
Manager Position: 1st
The Dutch manager, in 2009, got off to a phenomenal start where he guided Chelsea to eight wins in their first ten games in charge of his new club. Hiddink, who was managing Russia at the moment, was then considered as a stopgap replacement to former manager Luiz Felipe Scholari.
In fact, Hididink lost just one game as manager of Chelsea that season and was offered the permanent role at the end of the campaign and had the backing of the players, fans and the owner. However, he wanted to focus entirely on his job as Russia head-coach and turned down joining the London club.
Record: W8, D0, L2
Manager Position: 2nd
The Italian gaffer was appointed as the man to succeed Hiddink. In his first professional game in charge, he saw his side lift the Community Shield after a penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United.
He followed it by a 2-1 victory over Hull City the following week. He guided Chelsea to the Premier League title that season, pipping United to the crown by a solitary point.
After a series of disappointing results at the back-end of the second season, Ancelotti was relieved of his Chelsea duties.
Luiz Felipe Scolari
Record: W7, D2, L1
Manager Position: 3rd (Joint)
Scholari took charge of the Blues on 1st July 2008. He also became the first world-cup winning coach to manage in the Premier League. His first game in charge of Chelsea was a 4-0 home victory against Portsmouth.
However, his side’s performances took a sudden dip come December of that year, and in February, Abrahimovich decided to let go of the Portuguese manager due to “results and performances of the team appearing to be deteriorate at a key time in the season.”
Record: W7, D2, L1
Position: 3rd (Joint)
After being Chelsea’s Director of Football for two months, Avram Grant was announced as the new Blues manager – replacing Jose Mourinho at the helm. In doing so, Grant became the first Israeli-born coach to manage in England’s top flight.
Things got off to the worst possible start for him as he watched his side lose 2-0 against Manchester United, a mere three days after his appointment. However, he got his side on the right track with a 2-1 Champions League victory against Valencia which began Chelsea’s 16 match unbeaten run.
Three days after the Blues’ European final defeat against United, the club announced that they had part ways with the Israeli manager.
Jose Mourinho (2004)
Record: W7, D2, L1
Manager Position: 3rd (Joint)
The current United manager was appointed at the helm at Chelsea ahead of the 2004/05 season. In his first press conference as Blues boss, he said: “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one,” and has since been referred to as the ‘Special One’.
Mourinho got off to an exquisite start at Chelsea and saw his side atop the league table by December and already into the knockout stages of the Champions League. He managed to guide the London outfit to their first top-flight honour in 50 years, but his team were eliminated in the semis of Europe’s elite cub competition.
The 2007/08 season proved to Jose’s last one in his first-stint at the club and was shown the door in September 2007. He left behind a coveted legacy as he etched his name in the record books being Chelsea’s most successful manager with six team honours in three seasons.
Jose Mourinho (2013)
Record: W6, D2, L2
Manager Position: 7th
The Special One returned home in 2013, after parting ways with La Liga giants Real Madrid. His side finished in third position that season and managed to win the league in the following campaign.
However, a disastrous title-defending season in 2015/16 coupled by altercations with the playing and non-playing members of the team saw Mourinho unceremoniously sacked in December.
Record: W6, D1, L3
Manager Position: 8th
Chelsea confirmed the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas in June 2011 after paying a world-record compensation to FC Porto to release their manager. Despite a few good results initially, points seemed hard to come by in the business end of the campaign, and he was let go by the Chelsea owner before the season drew to a close.
Record: W5, D3, L2
Manager Position: 9th (Joint)
Benitez was appointed as Chelsea manager in November 2012, replacing Roberto Di Matteo. His first two games ended as goalless stalemates against Manchester City and Fulham, and was followed by a 3-1 loss in the London derby to West Ham.
Things improved slightly for the Spaniard as he guided his team to a UEFA Cup triumph in May. However, a third placed league finish was not enough to secure his job and he was forced to vacate his managerial seat at the club.
Guus Hiddink (2015)
Record: W4, D6, L0
Position: 9th (Joint)
Hiddink returned to Chelsea in 2015, following the mid-season sacking of Mourinho. He managed to stay unbeaten in his first twelve games in charge, and guided the Blues to a respectable tenth place finish in the league.
Roberto Di Matteo
Record: W4, D3, L3
After being appointed as Villas-Boas’ assistant in 2011, Roberto Di Matteo took over the reigns following the Spaniard’s sacking. To the amusement of many, Di Matteo won the Champions League with Chelsea – beating Bayern in a thrilling finale in Munich.
However, he failed to replicate his performances in his first season as permanent manager and was sacked as early as in the month of November, following a 3-0 defeat against Juventus.
Conte adds that the reason David Luiz is back at Chelsea is because he trusts him. He says every single player can still improve. #CFC
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 4, 2016
As most managers in the list, Conte does not have European football to worry about. Also, with Chelsea’s recent exit from the EFL Cup, he now has eyes solely set on the Premier League crown.
The Italian now has most of his key first-team players back from injury and raring to have a go in the starting eleven. His defence is looking way more settled than it looked initially, and Eden Hazard seems to be relishing the freedom he is given in the final third.
Chelsea have a tricky set of fixtures at the end of November as unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur come visiting, followed by a tricky away trip to Manchester to take on leaders City.