Having performed magnificently in their first seasons in charge of their respective clubs, both Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho have in recent weeks found their job securities the subject of public discussion.
Conte famously lifted the premier league in his first season with Chelsea FC after the club finished in 10th position the previous season while Mourinho lifted the UEFA Europa League and the EFL cup with Manchester United.
Both have failed to replicate last season’s performances with Chelsea currently in 5th position and United in 2nd place 13 points behind Manchester City having played one game more.
Chelsea’s problems began in the summer with the loss of key performers like goalscoring bully Diego Costa, midfield enforcer Nemanja Matic, and influential captain John Terry. Chelsea’s attempt to replace these players have not exactly gone to plan. With Alvaro Morata recruited from Real Madrid to replace Costa, plus Bakayoko and Drinkwater brought in to compete for places in the midfield.
Morata immediately hit a rich vein of form quickly racing to 5 goals in as many appearances. But the striker has now entered a10-game goal drought having failed to find the back of the net in his last 10 appearances for the club. Bakayoko has struggled to replicate Matic’s dominant showings in the center of the park for Chelsea this season. Conte himself has publicly criticized Chelsea’s recruitment policies having seen most of his top transfer targets blocked by the club. Chelsea’s season isn’t yet over with the club still in the UEFA Champions league but face an uphill task to eliminate high-flyer Barcelona after a one-all draw at the Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho’s problem is basically with his favoured style of play with the Portuguese manager prioritising wins over good displays. Yes, we all know the aim of the game is to win, but many Manchester United fans miss the fluent football of the Sir Alex Ferguson’s years. Mourinho has fallen out with star midfielder Paul Pogba over positional issues with the France International uncomfortable with where he is frequently deployed on the pitch. United’s problems also stem from the lack of a recognized goalscorer in the team with Romelu Lukaku failing to replicate his last season form with Everton.
Like Chelsea, Manchester United still have a lot to play for this season as realistically they are the only team who are close enough to wrestle City for the title – though the chances of that happening appears slim. United are still in the running for the Champions League having drawn 0-0 with Seville in Spain.
With many fans on both sides calling for the sack of both managers, who deserves to keep his job? Many would argue that Conte’s successes last season are big enough for Chelsea to overlook this season’s struggles and give the Italian another chance next season. But the manner in which Chelsea have lost games might suggest a crack is gradually appearing in the dressing room.
With Mourinho, it is either you absolutely love him or you totally hate him. The Portuguese has shown over his career that he’s capable of grinding out wins which was evident in Sunday’s 2-1 triumph over Conte’s Chelsea.
The Champions’ League and the FA cup will go a long way in determining the future of both managers as they remain their only chances of winning silverware this season. Also, Champions league qualification will be paramount for Conte to keep his job beyond this season.
The decision lies in the hands of the board. Over to you.