Although Chelsea eventually staged a stirring comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Premier League strugglers Southampton last weekend, they have not escaped criticism for a lacklustre first-half display.
The Blues were shockingly poor in the first-half and looked every bit a side who had only won three league fixtures since the start of 2018.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is widely expected to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season due to a falling out with his clubs board over transfer policy. Which has lead many observers to question if certain members of the team that won the Premier League title at a canter last season are still playing for their manager.
Speaking after last Saturday’s victory at Saint Mary’s Conte, who enjoyed a highly successful playing career with Juventus revealed that his players need not necessarily play for him, but they must respect the fans and the club’s badge.
“I was a player, and the players must play every game, and not for me, but for the club, and for the fans.
“They must have great respect for this badge, they don’t have to play for the coach.
“They have to play for the club, our fans, and to show great character like today. This is the best possible way for a player to be a fantastic professional player.
“Especially in this type of situation, when there is great difficulty, you must show yourself first to be a man and then a player. They did this in the second half.”
Chelsea have little hope of catching Spurs and finishing in the top four this season, although they will face Southampton again this weekend in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, in what will be their last chance to salvage any respectability from an otherwise poor campaign.