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Former Chelsea boss criticises Conte’s tactics

Manchester City vs Chelsea
during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on March 4, 2018 in Manchester, England.

Ruud Gullit has questioned Antonio Conte’s methods after Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City left the club five points outside the top four places

Gullit, who won the FA Cup with Chelsea back in 1997 as their manager, has openly questioned the tactics employed by Conte during Sunday’s league defeat to the league leaders. The club legend was disappointed to see the lack of attacking intent and creativity at the Eithad stadium and the Dutchman believes that the defeat was deserved as a result.

“Conte’s side showed hardly any attacking intent at Etihad Stadium – instead they were just hoping for a City mistake to let them in on a counter-attack, or hoping for someone to produce a moment of genius in front of goal.” Gullit wrote on the BBC.

“That is all they had – hope. They never looked like actually making anything happen and I was really disappointed with their performance.

“I just don’t know why Conte did not change anything during the game, even though his approach clearly wasn’t working and he could see where the danger was coming from.

“In my opinion, Chelsea had to at least have a go. If you do that then, if you lose, you do it with your head up high.

“Conte did nothing, though. And, as much as I love Chelsea, their defeat was exactly what they deserved.”

Despite Hazard having made it clear that he does not favour the role of a “false 9”, Gullit understood why Conte chose that role for Belgium. While acknowledging that it was a similar set-up to the one that nearly defeated Barcelona, the club legend argued that the difference was the lack of attacking intent.

“I can see why Conte picked the team he did – leaving his strikers on the bench and asking Eden Hazard to lead the line instead – because he wanted to play on the counter-attack.

“Apart from starting Danny Drinkwater instead of N’Golo Kante, who was ill, Chelsea’s team on Sunday was the same one that drew with Barcelona at the end of February, and again they let the opposition dominate possession.”

“The difference with what happened in that game was that Chelsea had much more of a go against Barca. They got their reward because they went 1-0 up and almost held on to win.

“On Sunday, Chelsea stayed deep and let City take complete control of the game. They played so many passes because Chelsea allowed them to.

“The last thing you want to happen against City is to allow them to come through you down the middle, but Chelsea did not try to compete in that area of the pitch and made it very easy for Pep Guardiola’s side.”