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Chelsea part ways with manager Antonio Conte after two seasons

CHELSEA PART WAYS WITH MANAGER ANTONIO CONTE AFTER TWO SEASONS
REUTERS

Chelsea sacked manager Antonio Conte on Friday, bringing an end to the Italian's stormy two-year tenure at the Premier League club.

Conte, who had one year remaining on his contract, lifted the 2017 league title in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge and also won the FA Cup last term.

However, his relationship with the Chelsea board became increasingly fractious and the team missed out on the Champions League in the coming season by finishing fifth in 2017-18.

Chelsea are widely expected to replace Conte with former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri.

"In the title winning season, the club set a then-record 30 wins in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as a club-record 13 consecutive league victories," Chelsea said in a brief statement on Friday.

"We wish Antonio every success in his future career."

Conte, 48, was named Chelsea manager in 2016 while still in charge of the Italian national team.

After reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, he took charge of a Blues side that finished 10th the previous season.

After winning his first three games, they stumbled with consecutive losses to Liverpool and Arsenal leading to a change in formation that kick-started their title run.

The Blues vaulted to the top of the table by winning their next 13 league matches and remained there for the rest of the season.

They also reached the FA Cup final but were denied a double by Arsenal.

Problems arose last summer when Conte told Diego Costa he was no longer part of his plans in a curt text message, with the club eventually sending the striker to Atletico Madrid in the January transfer window.

Conte was also vocal about the club's transfer policy, often complaining his squad wasn't big enough, and carried on a very public row with ex-Blues and current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea's title defence kicked off with a 3-2 home loss to Burnley, but they rebounded and would reach a high water mark of second behind runaway leaders Manchester City in late December.

However, five losses in seven games dropped them to fifth by early April and speculation over Conte's future started to swirl.

Chelsea did make their second straight FA Cup final in May and beat Manchester United 1-0 in what would prove to be Conte's final game in charge.

Chelsea are now looking for their ninth full-time manager since Roman Abramovich bought the team in 2003.

Sarri, 59, has never won a trophy in his time with nine difference clubs in Italy.

He finished second, third and second in the past three seasons at Napoli, and was named the Series A coach of the year in 2017, but was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti in May.

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