By Joe Harker
At one point in Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, the team that will almost certainly snatch their Premier League crown, the victorious side had the ball and were lazily passing it around in Chelsea's half, safe in the knowledge that their opponents would make no attempt to press them and try to win the ball back.
Perhaps Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had told his team to sit back and wait for City to commit numbers forward, saying he would be stupid to play an open gain against them, but he surely didn't instruct them to play at a walking pace.
Conte has been savaged for his "terrible to watch" tactics in the defeat, not so much trying to counter attack as sit back and do very little. They allowed City to control the game and some believe the team is being dragged down by the uncertain future of the manager.
To some it looks like Conte has lost the dressing room or the players have stopped trying, though new signing Olivier Giroud insists that is not the case.
ESPN reports that the manager is losing the support of the fans now, who had previously backed him in his repeated claims that the Chelsea board haven't given him proper support in the transfer market. If fans really are turning against him it may be because they have seen the same situation play out so many times before. This always happens to their managers and if it is happening to Conte then they may already have started to look ahead to his potential replacements.
Perhaps the situation with Conte is a symptom of Chelsea's business model. They go through managers very quickly, often enjoying brief but bright periods of success before it all collapses and they start over again by appointing a new manager. That approach may have worked for several years, but it may have reached a point where it is doing the team more harm than good.
Chelsea go through a "boom and bust cycle" that could have an effect on the dressing room, causing players to see managers coming and going as a regular occurrence and thus not fighting for them when the going gets tough. It doesn't matter, the players will stay at the club and a new manager comes in to start the cycle all over again. They might win some cups or even the Premier League but that success will fade away. However, there are only so many top class managers and it may be time to change the model into one that seeks long term stability.