Conte didn't cost Chelsea - the board did, says Gullit

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The inaction of those upstairs caused dressing room unrest that the Italian could have done without, according to the Netherlands assistant boss

Chelsea endured a tough season, but it was not the fault of manager Antonio Conte, according to former boss Ruud Gullit.

The Dutchman spent two years in charge at Stamford Bridge from 1996-98 and appreciates the particular difficulties of managing the club.

Rather than targeting the Italian for missing out on the Champions League next season, he pointed the finger squarely at the board for their poor management.

“I’m not blaming it on Conte,” the Netherlands assistant manager told Goal. “I’m blaming it on the rumours from the beginning about whether he was going to have to leave or whatever. Nobody upstairs did anything about it. No one said: ‘Hey, that’s that a rumour, that’s not true. He’s our coach.’ That didn’t happen. 

“The players who are playing, they don’t care, but the players who are not playing see an opportunity that if he leaves, maybe they can play. So, you get a lot of trouble into the locker room. You don’t need that as a coach. 

“It’s not been a success. It has been a plaster on the wound. It’s been a very hard season.

“If they could exchange the Champions League place for the FA Cup, they’d do it.”

He also joked that if you want a long stay in the Blues’ dugout, perhaps the best move is to be unsuccessful as they have gone through a string of managers in recent years, including Jose Mourinho and Roberto Di Matteo, who left the club after winning the Champions League in 2012.

“If you win something, then you’re in danger in Chelsea,” the 55-year-old said. “The one who didn’t win anything stayed the longest – Claudio Ranieri. He was there for four years. All the others had to leave. It’s better not to win anything!”

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