This was supposed to be a coming together of two heavyweights. The champions of England trying to stun the champions-elect.
I said on Sky that what we witnessed at the Etihad was a crime against football and I stand by that view in my column. This is not how champions should play.
Chelsea lined up with no strikers, showed no hunger to get forward and surrendered three points to Manchester City before a ball had even been kicked.
Could you imagine Arsenal’s Invincibles side or the great Manchester United teams under Sir Alex Ferguson playing so negatively?
They might have tweaked their tactics to make their teams harder to beat but they would always have posed an attacking threat. Yesterday, Chelsea offered nothing.
The club should refund their supporters who travelled to Manchester and were forced to sit through that abject performance.
It is sad how things have gone downhill so quickly for Antonio Conte. Only last season he revolutionised the Premier League by playing a back three. Such was the manager’s impact that Chelsea’s title triumph felt like it belonged to Conte more than any of his players.
Ever since Conte started battling with Chelsea’s board, however, this kind of display has been coming.
This is not the first time that this club have pulled the rug from under their manager after winning the Premier League. But nothing good can come from playing this anti-football.
Not only does Conte risk losing his players and tarnishing last season’s triumph, but he is also damaging his reputation. What chairman would want to hire the Italian on the basis of this surrender at City?
Chelsea’s season is in danger of petering out into fifth place. If Conte is to depart at the end of the season, then he should go out swinging punches like a champion. Not like a man resigned to his fate.