Antonio Conte Says Chelsea's Schedule Makes Planning 'Impossible'

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18:  Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League group C match between Chelsea FC and AS Roma at Stamford Bridge on October 18, 2017 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Antonio Conte has bemoaned a hectic run of fixtures as the reason for Chelsea's recent struggles. 

The Blues chief believes his side are playing too many games this season, making it "impossible to work on the tactical aspect and physical aspect" with his players, per Sky Sports.

A frustrated Conte has seen his team lose to Manchester City and Crystal Palace in the Premier League, as well as draw 3-3 at home to AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League.

The Italian referenced the stalemate in Europe as particularly disappointing: "After two defeats and a draw, I'm happy for the commitment of my players but about the last result (against Roma) no coach can be happy."

Conte is anxious about the number of games Chelsea's stretched squad is playing this season.
Conte is anxious about the number of games Chelsea's stretched squad is playing this season.GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Conte also lamented the pile up of matches currently taxing his squad: "We are working 70% less this season. We are playing every two days, it's impossible and we are paying for this."

While it's true Conte and Chelsea are dealing with a more congested fixture list, as well as injuries to key players, the manager's complaints ring hollow. For one thing, the Blues are playing more games because they returned to the Champions League thanks to winning the Premier League title last season, Conte's first in charge.

Extra games from playing in a more prestigious tournament are the price of success. While the cost is greater for Conte and his squad, the potential rewards are also superior.

Where Conte is right to feel irked is when he looks at his current injury list. Midfielders N'Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko, along with centre-back David Luiz and wing-back Victor Moses, are all out, per Sky Sports.

Injuries to key players like Kante have hampered Conte's plans.
Injuries to key players like Kante have hampered Conte's plans.ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Their absences are robbing Conte of the chance to rotate his squad: "It is a problem to play every game with the same players so it is impossible for these players to work - the game is not training."

This isn't the first time Conte has complained about his squad being short of options. The 48-year-old recently voiced his desire for more recruits, per Ben Rumsby of the Daily Telegraph: "We need more players, not top level like Neymar but more players to improve our squad and our quality."

Again though, this complaint may sound hollow considering Chelsea signed Alvaro Morata, Bakayoko, Drinkwater, Antonio Rudiger and Davide Zappacosta this summer.

Conte's desire to make up for the deficiencies he sees have led to speculation Chelsea's players are tiring of his training methods, per Matt Hughes of The Times. However, Conte has downplayed these rumours, according to BBC Sport.

Conte wants more recruits, despite making several signings, including Morata, this summer.
Conte wants more recruits, despite making several signings, including Morata, this summer.ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Even so, there is a growing sense all is far from well at Stamford Bridge. Conte sounds increasingly focused more on things he can't control than the factors he can.

What the gifted manager can do is work with the still enviable amount of talent at his disposal. The current Chelsea squad is more than good enough to get out of its recent malaise.

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