Antonio Conte looks like he will depart Chelsea in the manner he arrived: by upstaging Jose Mourinho.
The two rivals, recently bitter enemies, embraced at the end of a final which was more notable for its first ever use of video technology than for any of the football on display.
Yet its significance lay in the result. The man who picked up the mess, Mourinho, had left Stamford Bridge two years ago and managed to regenerate the team into title winners, before seemingly falling victim to the same political pressures that undid his predecessor, had one last parting shot to deliver.
In the battle of clubs with underwhelming seasons, Chelsea emerged the victor at Wembley. And a trophy can give even an unpolished campaign some lustre. A trophy makes a point and Conte was not slow to seize the opportunity.
On Saturday night he declared himself a ‘serial winner’ in what appeared to be an emotional farewell, though it is clear he will not quit. Chelsea will have to sack him.
‘After these two seasons, I will always love this colour, these fans, this club,’ he said. ‘Even if my future must be in a different way.
‘After two years, the club knows me very well. If they want to continue to work with me, they know me. I can’t change. My way is always the same. And I think my past speaks very clear as a player and as a manager. You can tell what you want, but I’m a serial winner.
‘I’ve showed this today, because we found the right way to win this trophy. I’m very happy for the players, I’m very happy for our fans. At the same time, I’m happy for the club. In two seasons, I brought two trophies for this club.’
And if that all seemed in the past tense — a final decision will have to be made by the club this week — he at least departs with a job well done.
Source: Daily Guide