Former Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fàbregas has revealed how he needed the help of a furious Diego Costa to get through to manager Antonio Conte.
The Spaniard started just 13 Premier League games during Conte’s title-winning 2016/17 season and instead had to settle for regular minutes off the bench, overlooked for the more defensive pairing of N’Golo Kanté and Nemanja Matić.
Fàbregas missed the first seven games of Conte’s famous unbeaten run, but was given another chance to impress during a trip to Manchester City after Matić dropped out injured.
He told BBC’s Match of the Day Top 10 podcast: “We win that game 3-1, I play very, very well. I gave an assist to Diego Costa for 1-1 and after that we came back into the game. Anyway, it feels like I made a point to the coach that he can count on me and I can start playing from then.
“Next game, we play against West Brom at home, normally a very defensive game. You would expect that I should be playing again because my style of play against ten defenders is better than Matić or even N’Golo, but N’Golo was someone that he would always play anyway.
“Anyway, Matić recovers and he starts the game. So 0-0, typical game that West Brom defend very well, we’re just hitting the wall. 70 minutes, I start warming up but nothing happens. 75 minutes, 78 minutes, I don’t come on. The game is calling for someone like me to come on and open the door or something.
“I remember Diego Costa coming to the touchline shouting, shouting at Conte and pointing at me as I was warming up. ‘Put Cesc on! You have to put Fàbregas, Fàbregas!’. I remember Diego Costa going nuts. ‘Put him on for f-!’ He went mental.
“Me, I’m on the side like ‘oh my God’. And you know Conte, Conte’s not the manager you mess with. And Conte was pretending he was not listening to him. Two minutes later, ‘Cesc, come’. Two minutes later, Cesc assists to Diego Costa, 1-0, we win. Amazing!”
Fàbregas did manage to start 25 games in the following season thanks to the sale of Matić to Manchester United, and he outlived Conte as the boss was relieved of his duties in the summer of 2018 to be replaced by Maurizio Sarri.
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