Antonio Conte won’t be sacked as Chelsea manager in the short term at least after being granted a stay of execution by club owner Roman Abramovich, newspapers in Britain report.
Conte was widely expected to get binned after the stuttering Premier League champions suffered a humiliating 4-1 defeat against Watford on Monday night, their second straight loss in a week after Bournemouth humbled them at Stamford Bridge.
The catastrophic run has left the Blues languishing 19 points behind leaders Manchester City in fourth place, one point above fifth-placed Spurs as the hunt for Champion League places intensifies.
But contrary to widespread suspicion, the Italian is now expected to remain in charge for Monday’s game against West Bromwich Albion.
Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is among the big names who have been touted to replace Conte at the Bridge, alongside former Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti.
After guiding the side to the Premier League title last term, the Italian is believed to have irritated his players with his demanding training schedule and intense personality.
This prompted the manager to give the players three days off to recover after the Watford defeat.
Meanwhile, club captain Gary Cahill admits the squad needs to be held accountable for the performance against Watford.
“Whatever is decided, the players have to take responsibility. The manager has done an absolutely unbelievable job,” Cahill said.
“This is the worst I’ve felt for quite a while. Performance-wise, I didn’t recognise us or myself.
“It was abysmal. It hurts a lot when you come off after a performance like that.
“We just need to keep strong. I’ve been here before at this club – it’s about staying calm.”
Conte may stay on for now, but the question is: ‘for how long?