Chelsea’s win over Tottenham at Wembley proves the players are behind manager Antonio Conte says Super Sport analyst Gary Neville.
The Chelsea boss has cut a frustrated figure this season following a fall-out with Diego Costa, the sale of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United and defeats to both Arsenal in the Community Shield and Burnley in their opening Premier League game.
However, two goals from Marcos Alonso earned a 2-1 victory at Wembley Stadium on Super Sunday – and Sky Sports expert Neville felt the win was important for many reasons.
“In the last two or three weeks, people have been writing Chelsea off,” he said on the Gary Neville Podcast.
“I don’t think it’s unfair for us, the media, to be asking questions around Chelsea after losing the first game in such fashion, the Costa situation rumbling on and the Matic situation.
“We are aware of what happened last time after Chelsea won the title. Mancini, Ranieri and Mourinho have all been sacked pretty quickly after winning the title.
“You thought today before the game, this was more than three points for Chelsea because you could see if they were beaten here today and beaten well it could start to unravel a little bit.
“They stood up today. They stood up like champions. They pulled together a makeshift team, this is certainly not their first XI, and they’ve shown something today.
“They’ve shown they are actually with the manager. If you think about the accusations last time Chelsea won the league it’s that they weren’t with Mourinho.
“Today they played, even when they went to 1-1, brilliantly. They put in a good performance against a really good Tottenham team.”
Neville said Chelsea benefited from a strong start at Wembley, going close through Alvaro Morata in the opening stages before Alonso opened the scoring in the 24th minute.
Chelsea were without several stars through injury and suspension – including Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill – but Neville had praise for Conte’s tactics.
He added: “The way in which Chelsea set up surprised us all with the diamond in midfield; Willian at the point of the diamond and David Luiz in central midfield.
“When you’re away from home, the first three or four minutes set the tone for how you settle into a match.
“Chelsea were pressurising Tottenham, they were up in their half, they got a chance through Morata and should have been 1-0 up and their first 20-25 minutes was really good.
“It was probably the best period in the game for Chelsea and it culminated in what was a stunning, stunning free-kick.
“They fully deserved to be in front after the first period in the game.”