Conte’s Poetic Justice


Antonio: My players are not to blame for this game. It is the fault of the coach.

Rest of the world: So, you take full responsibility for Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester United?

Antonio: It is simple, simple. The coach is at fault, not the players. In Italy, we call this a tautology – two ends of the same stick.

Rest of the world: Are you just trying to protect the players?

Antonio: I don’t think it is fair to discuss this because there was glass.

Rest of the world: Glass? On the pitch?

Antonio: On the pitch? Glass? Another tautology!

Rest of the world: We do not understand the reference to glass.

Antonio: Is clear to see.

Rest of the world: Not to us it isn’t.

Antonio: You must open your eyes. Always. Otherwise, you run down blind alleys or cul-de-sacs as players say in France. The coach was to blame. But do not forget where we came from.

Rest of the world: You mean, last season, after José Mourinho was found out?

Antonio: In London, yes. The coach brought us from London.

Rest of the world: So, are you saying that the players were tired after the long journey?

Antonio: Probably but I think it is more to do with the coach. It dropped us here – at Old Trafford – where we should have been prepared. If it hadn’t dropped us off here, maybe at Liverpool or-

Rest of the world: Is this a metaphor for ‘the team not turning up?’

Antonio: Stoke or Bournemouth or Southampton or-

Rest of the world: But, to be fair, Manchester United haven’t played that well here this season.

Antonio: Is a long way we have come from. The M1 is very boring I think, and the players were hiding behind the glass. No road rage. Not like in Italy where there is more motivation, more ambition to hit the opposition and then run for the hills.

Rest of the world: Diego Costa seemed prepared to hit anything that moved!

Antonio: Is difficult when you don’t know if you are Brazilian or Spanish, I think. Spain and Portugal are very close but Portugal and Brazil are closer. People are telling tales about Diego and José but I think it is difficult to forget how you were once family. We had the same problem at Juventus when players forgot this but then was all OK because they disappeared overnight.

Rest of the world: Ander Herrera made Eden Hazard disappear today!

Antonio: Yes, but is the problem of the coach. If it hadn’t dropped us off here, Herrera would have had nobody to mark and then he would have had much less enthusiasm I think. We made it easier for them today.

Rest of the world: You suffered some late injuries, to be fair.

Antonio: But my booster seat helped, I think; the coach was forced to swerve because of Mourinho’s cavalcade. For me, a booster seat is still a safer option than a sedan chair.

Rest of the world: And Courtois, Alonso?

Antonio: Is the price they pay for playing for Chelsea. We need the money and Courtois loves dealing with high balls. Alonso is simple. He is a virus.

Jermaine: I think this is a title race and I would know because I once played for Newcastle, Tottenham and Forest – but not when any of them were actually challenging for the title, obviously.

Danny: You never know in football. Chelsea have a good run in but then not many cars need running in these days, especially along the King’s Road which I once lived near.

Sam Wallace: I am a writer for the Daily Telegraph and, therefore, I am pretty dull, whether talking about Chelsea Football Club or Chelsea Flower Show.

Antonio: It won’t be easy. We have six cup finals, starting with the semi-final against Tottenham. Fortunately, we will be travelling underground to Wembley Park so that there is no need for a coach.


About the Author

Mark Rasdall
I am a writer and football historian. My background is in information architecture and online search and all of this has come together in The Football Ground at