Soccer

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte makes plea for patience after Abramovich visit

Chelsea manager hails his record, especially last season’s ‘miracle’ title, after owner Roman Abramovich dropped in at the club’s training ground

With Roman Abramovich having dropped in at Chelsea’s training ground in the past week, it would have been understandable if a sense of angst had fallen over Antonio Conte as Stamford Bridge prepares for the return of José Mourinho. It was only a week, after all, since Conte was reacting to rumours of dressing-room discontent and talk of Carlo Ancelotti being lined up to replace him by turning the air blue in leafy Cobham. “Bullshit” was the Italian’s word of choice, but he may well have found himself using more industrial language to his players after their performance in Rome on Tuesday did nothing to alleviate the mounting pressure on their manager.

It is a compliment of sorts to say that life is never dull at Chelsea. They host Manchester United on Sunday afternoon knowing that defeat would plunge them deeper into crisis and leave their title defence in tatters after 11 games. Conte is already openly wondering if Manchester City, who hold a nine-point lead over the champions, can be caught and the mood is low after the humbling by Roma. News of Abramovich popping by has inevitably raised a few eyebrows.

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