Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has an unusual attitude towards criticism. A few days after his Blues' 3-3 tie with Italian side Roma in the Champions League's third round, rumours that his job in London might come to an early end are starting to rise.
During this first part of the year, Chelsea have encountered a few difficulties, which culminated last week when the Premier League reigning champions gave Crystal Palace their first seasonal win.
In such hard times, one would think that the captain would not be the first one to abandon a potentially sinking ship.
Yet, Speaking to Radio Anch'io Sport, the Italian manager has recently admitted that he misses Italy.
He acknowledged: "It is not in my mind to stay abroad for a long time. Italy is my country. I will return, I don't know when but that is the aim.”
Dropping such a bombshell after only a couple of months since the beginning of the Premier League season may come as a shock for most Chelsea fans, who witnessed him leading the club to their sixth league title last year, but is it really so unexpected?
Hmm.. I wonder who Mourinho is referring to.. 🙄 Is the Red Devils manager right or just playing mind games? 💪 - - - #mourinho #manutd #Manchester #manchesterunited #ibrahimovic #lukaku #matic #martial #mkhitaryan #rashford #degea #epl #PremierLeague #Football#Soccer #90min #conte #Chelsea #chelseafc #ChampionsLeague
Ever since starting his career as a manager, Conte has shown his undoubted skills as leader, planner and strategist (particularly with Siena, Juventus and Chelsea) but also a certain tendency towards short-term commitments.
A year in Siena was enough for him to secure the club's promotion to Serie A, but also to catch the eye of Juventus sporting director Giuseppe Marotta, and seal a deal in Turin.
His triumphs as Juventus' coach - he won three Serie A titles and two Italian Supercups - made him one of the team's most beloved and hailed managers of the past decade. Yet, as the Bianconeri's disappointing performances in Europe started to raise criticism, he put an end to the contract and became Italy's manager.
Training the national team did not turn out as planned either. Conte, who stayed for only two years, started his first Euro 2016 match while already knowing what would have happened at the end of the tournament.
He was welcomed at Stamford Bridge as the club's only hope after Jose Mourinho had failed to reach the Champions League, leaving the team in an unpromising and chaotic status. He incredibly won again. Chelsea returned to their original splendour and took the title with two matches to spare.
Conte signed a new contract with Chelsea during the summer, but, as of last month, he spoke of leaving again. No imminent departure has been confirmed nor announced yet, but the doubt has already been cast.
He has served seven teams in little more than ten years. One could wonder what leads this visionary man of renowned strategical abilities to jump from a club to another without stopping for too long. Whether it is for noble reasons or, more simply, for personal prestige, Conte's tendency to abandon his teams could be a rather important factor, for his future employers, to bear in mind.
It is obvious that he does not like criticism and that he rarely deals with imminent crises. Only this year, for example, he let Diego Costa leave London for Atletico Madrid due to personal discrepancies, lost Chelsea's first league game to Burnley and set his eyes on Inter Milan.
Since Blues have lost two Premier League games in a row and were almost defeated by Roma last week, his nostalgic - and possibly preventive - need to return to his motherland would seem, therefore, imminent though hardly justifiable. However, this tendency to leave clubs when they no longer need him, like Mary Poppins does with children, is not going to lead him anywhere.
As far as his personal goals and egocentrism can push him, Conte will eventually have to stop. By that time, he will have driven everyone away.