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Conte 7/2 to be first Prem casuality, but Chelsea must keep him

Blues would be crazy to sack Italian

They may be reigning Premier League champions and have reached an FA Cup Final in May, but it seems Chelsea could soon part ways with the mastermind behind that success – manager Antonio Conte.

The Italian is 7/2 joint-favourite with Coral to be the first Premier League manager to head for the exit this season, alongside under-pressure Stoke City boss Mark Hughes. Slaven Bilic is third in the market at 4/1.

However, despite his falling out with fiery striker Diego Costa, the Coral News team think there’s every reason for the Blues to try and keep him on board. Here’s why…

Conte is a proven title-winner

There’s no question that Chelsea will face a stronger battle for the Premier League title this season than in 2016-17. Manchester United and Manchester City have both strengthened this summer. But in Conte the West London club have a manager with a fantastic track record in title tussles.

As well as rekindling Juventus’ glory days by winning three successive Serie A titles from 2011-2014, he also led unfancied Bari to the Serie B title back in 2009.

Put simply, you don’t win Serie A Coach of the Year three years in a row if you can’t bounce back from a setback. And in the long-term, keeping the Stamford Bridge boss is far more important than retaining an ageing and petulant Costa…or any other dissenting dressing room voice, for that matter.

He’s built a tactical system that works

The saying is that ‘a good team wins the title and a great one retains it’. While time will tell which end of that sentence this Chelsea side land on, the foundations Conte built last season certainly suggest a strong foundation for success under the Italian.

His 3-4-3 system proved a winning formula home and away, with a mixture of physicality, speed and classy passing. The addition of bruising centre-half Antonio Rudiger, tough but technically gifted Tiemoue Bakayoko and ruthless striker Alvaro Morata all fit that system perfectly, and will thrive under the 48-year-old…if he stays.

Any change in the dugout would likely see the new man shake up the Blues’ tactical approach. Right now, this squad understands their place in Conte’s system. As for Saturday’s defeat to Burnley? Even the best sides have an off day.

The alternatives are hardly inspiring

Were Conte to make a sudden departure, who do Chelsea get in?

Pep Guardiola won’t be lured away from a Premier League rival. Former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti will hardly wave goodbye to an all-conquering Bayern Munich side. Zinedine Zidane won’t want to leave Champions League-winning Real Madrid. And Jose Mourinho is building something special at Manchester United.

The list goes on…

In short, the realistic choice if they are to make a switch is between a talented but comparatively unproven boss, and a manager who’s won four league titles in his last four years of club management.

If Chelsea fail to back their boss, or even worse – sack him – they’re heading for an almighty fall.

Next up for the Blues is a visit to Wembley to face Tottenham Hotspur, with Coral offering 5/2 for the champions to ease the pressure with a derby day victory.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing