Reclining in his chair during pre-season in Singapore, Antonio Conte impudently warned that Chelsea can not afford a ‘Mourinho season’.

It was a snarky and inflammatory comment, simultaneously designed to force his employers hands over new transfers and irritate his sparring partner Jose Mourinho.

Conte’s point was transparent. He refuses to be another fall-guy, another manager who wins the league and then exits through the back door after a follow-up season of disappointment.

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