Just stop whining, Conte
Chelsea boss should not complain about fixture pile-up when they have no European commitments
Antonio Conte might want to give serious consideration to quitting his day job.
If the Italian's lament about fixture congestion was anything other than a party-piece impression of Jose Mourinho, he is simply not cut out for the rigours of life at Chelsea.
The 4-2 win over Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-finals yesterday morning (Singapore time) should have been an occasion for Conte to savour.
His maiden Wembley outing was almost like a fairy tale.
Instead, he chose to turn it into what seemed to be the latest instalment of irrational outpouring from the Stamford Bridge hot seat, now something of a near-annual occurrence.
A Chelsea manager at odds with the world has become as predictable as Tottenham's perennial bridesmaid status, yet their latest incumbent was supposed to be the exception.
Conte's highly-disciplined, and no-nonsense approach was the unique selling point behind the Blues' pursuit of a league and cup Double.
JUST LIKE MOURINHO
He was to be the ultimate antithesis to everything they had come to represent under Mourinho and others.
Little appeared to faze the man who often showed a cool head instead of flying into demagoguery amid claims he was facing an early exit.
Somewhere along the line, however, Conte's persona of calm has changed significantly.
Guiding Juventus to three consecutive Serie A titles while simultaneously fighting in the latter stages of Europe appears to have been forgotten in his complaints that Spurs will get an additional day of preparation before facing Crystal Palace on Thursday morning.
It was a level of hair-splitting last seen at Stamford Bridge during Mourinho's final months in charge.
The current Manchester United manager wrote the book on never knowing when to quit while he was ahead. Conte, it appears, recently found a copy lying around his office.
He is seemingly oblivious to the advantage his Chelsea side have enjoyed this season in the absence of European football, allowing them to take a comfortable lead at the EPL's summit.
Their stellar squad have also remained largely disaffected by injury, whereas some of their closest rivals, such as United and Liverpool, have lost their respective talismans Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sadio Mane within weeks of each other.
With influential figures like Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana all taking turns to occupy the treatment room, Juergen Klopp can justifiably claim that the Reds would still be hunting down the champions-elect into the final weeks of the campaign had fates not conspired.
A 48-hour turnaround for Wednesday morning's visit of Southampton is, similarly, an increasing irrelevance for Chelsea when stacked against United and Arsenal's unenviable season run-ins.
Arsene Wenger's fate at the Emirates Stadium rests on a period which sees the Gunners face four games in nine days, while Chelsea play within the same period.
“This week is crucial for us because in this week Tottenham have the advantage. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to understand the fixtures, but we have to answer on the pitch.”Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, claiming it’s unfair that the Blues play on Wednesday morning, while tottenham have an extra day’s rest before their next game on thursday morning
HELL FOR DEVILS
Already decimated by the loss of Ibrahimovic and others, Mourinho's under-performing Red Devils face a greater challenge with a mammoth eight games in just 24 days, beginning with Friday morning's trip to Manchester City and including the two-legged Europa League semi-finals.
Tottenham have avoided an end-of-season fixture pile-up but have seen momentum in their pursuit of Chelsea's lead hampered by Harry Kane's bouts of absence and a mental fortitude that seems to disappear whenever they venture beyond White Hart Lane.
Success offers various pitfalls and chief among them is an increased number of games, be it in the FA Cup or next season's Champions League.
Conte must devise a strategy other than public bleating if Chelsea's hardship is to be mitigated in its current and upcoming rigours.
Masterminding a three-man defence has not been the sum of his abilities this season.
He has kept an all-star cast both relevant and rested in equal measure; a fact encapsulated by his resting of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard from the start at Wembley yesterday morning.
Winning was Conte's preferred response to silencing the doubters at Juventus.
Now is a good time as any for him to revert to that time-honoured tactic.