Diego Costa was a troublesome burden during the reign of Jose Mourinho in 2014-15, but made himself a cult hero amongst his new fans upon his arrival from Atletico Madrid by scoring goals for fun and creating controversy from virtually anything imaginable. His goal scoring rate this season started out as miserably as a Chelsea fan’s worst nightmare, but later rejuvenated and went up to a respectable level. When Mourinho was there, he had 4 goals in 19 games in all competitions, and after Mourinho left, 11 goals in 17 games and counting. Drastic turns in form are almost always welcome amongst supporters when they move from terrible to terrific, but it might not be so welcome in this case. “The Special One” was very vocal against Costa in his last few games in charge, claiming that he was playing out on the wing more often than he should be.
This was actually a very obvious shift in Costa’s style of play since last year’s title winning season, when he stuck to the central area of the pitch rather than the wing. Did this minute change occur as a result of his disregard of Mourinho’s instructions? Or was it something that Mourinho wanted him to work on that he thought would help him? Whatever it was, it was plain in the end that it didn’t work out very well, and this might be the smallest and mightiest difference in the Chelsea squad that led to their downfall during this season. And the reason Mourinho lost his job.
As a supporter, it is sometimes hard to read into behaviors, but the gestures Costa made towards Mourinho when he wasn’t selected(throwing bibs), clearly communicated that something was wrong between those two.
Now the problem is, Antonio Conte, the new manager of Chelsea from the start of next season, is as similar to Mourinho as you can get in the current world. He is strict on discipline, trains his players harder than anybody else, but perhaps, more importantly, has a dose of the “win at any cost” serum infused in his blood, just like the Portuguese. Conte is said to be very confrontational with his players, and you will find a lot of similarities between him and the fiery Costa.
Which is why this appointment also brought with it a storm of speculation regarding the Brazil-born Spain International.
While Conte has not yet commented on whether he will keep Costa, it is clear as day that their relationship will not last very long into the Italian’s tenure at Stamford Bridge. Fire does not succumb to fire, and you can only control it with water.