Scott Brant, one of Chelsea FanCast’s listeners based in the USA ponders whether Antonio Conte can make Diego Costa a Chelsea Legend, after all he bears a remarkable similarity in behaviour and goal threat to Didier Drogba…
Where have all the Diego Costa haters gone since the villain turned alter boy. Diego played the villain role while picking up 4 yellow cards in 6 matches at the beginning of the season. The last 8 matches we’ve seen him on his best behavior, focusing solely on scoring or setting up his teammates. If he keeps it together for another 5 matches and makes it to the 31st of December, his slate is clean – and a miracle has occurred.
In fairness, I would have bet my house, and my parents house that the ornery one couldn’t go 8 matches without a yellow card. And to expect him to go another 5 matches without incident is absurd. For crying out loud there was a scrum in the Manchester City match, and he still behaved. Alter boy Diego is far better for the team, but the media and opposing teams seem to prefer ‘Diego the Villain’ though. He seems to be as productive regardless of which he is in a match. Has Conte reeled Diego Costa in a little and taught him restraint or is this an entirely new Diego Costa we’re seeing?
Years ago when Chelsea legend Didier Drogba first arrived at the Bridge, he was accused of diving and other frowned upon behavior on the football pitch. Very similar to the criticism that Costa has received since arriving at Chelsea. Didier Drogba’s diving was such an issue that former Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez once claimed to have a 4 year dossier of evidence on Drogba’s diving. Another incident concerning Drogba was when he slapped Nemanja Vidic in the 116th minute of the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final. Chelsea would ultimately lose that Final in penalty kicks to Manchester United. But Didier eventually lost those bad habits for the most part and focused on scoring and winning, something he mastered at Chelsea.
Diego Costa’s fire, seemingly fueled by the fury of a thousand suns, has been extinguished. It appears that Antonio Conte has cooled the fiery forward while not taking anything away from his productivity. The rest of the season will answer if this is merely a blip on Costa’s alter boy radar or if Conte did what Mourinho and Simeone couldn’t. The conclusion that Antonio Conte is doing the unthinkable is drawn from the massive changes we have seen all over the pitch, not just Costa – but the whole squad. He has players like Moses and Pedro in such great form that Willian can’t get many minutes on the pitch at the moment.
To be clear, IN NO WAY IS DIEGO COSTA – DIDIER DROGBA! They are two very different players, just with similar track records of mischievous behavior on the pitch. Diego’s form is reminiscent of our title winning season just two years ago, add to that Hazard’s form is back and we are off and running. To think that we are top of the table with players that may not be the managers first choice for his preferred system – it sends chills down my spine wondering how high we can rise. If the Board members show the tiniest bit of patience, they along with the supporters will see that we have one of the best managers in the world.
And maybe, just maybe, Antonio Conte can turn Diego into Didier – a Chelsea Legend.
By Scott Brant @TheBrant17