What’s happened to Chelsea? Neville believes it’s the loss of Matic
The defending Premier League champions have looked a shell of themselves at times in the 2017/18 season, both domestically and in Europe, and it’s quite evident what the problem is, according to one former player.
Ex-Manchester United midfielder Phil Neville told BBC 5 Live that he believes Antonio Conte’s biggest issue this season is the loss of Nemanja Matic in the midfield.
The Serbian midfielder exited the club just prior to the PL’s kick off this campaign after heading to Old Trafford, leaving a noticeable gap in the Blues’ heart.
“What’s gone wrong for Chelsea? One word. Matic,” Neville said following Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat at Roma on Tuesday.
“It’s as simple as that. The minute they sold Nemanja Matic was a mistake.
“When you had Matic sat in front of you, alongside [N’Golo] Kante, there was protection. Whoever made that decision needs sacking. That is one of the poorest decisions I have ever seen in the Premier League.
“If you ask any of those Chelsea players who they would want back, they would say Matic. Chelsea replaced him with someone who is going to do the same job – [Tiemoue] Bakayoko is not that player, he is not a holding midfield player.
“They didn’t replace Matic. I wouldn’t have let him out of the building, I would have chained him to the training ground walls.”