LIFE as a football manager at the sharp end of the Barclays Premier League increasingly borders on the absurd. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than at Chelsea, where after his Monday night mauling at Vicarage Road, Antonio Conte increasingly seems like a placeholder as Luis Enrique is measured up for his job.

Forget for a minute the fact he is the reigning champion manager, and currently boasts the joint best winning record (with Pep Guardiola) in the history of the competition, because the Italian increasingly appears out of control, at war with his own board and likely to be cut adrift sooner rather than later. It is a wearyingly familiar pattern at Stamford Bridge, where short-termism rules okay. They have got through 12 managers at the Bridge since Jose Mourinho’s first spell came to an end a decade ago.

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It isn’t just them, though. A few weeks ago, it was Jose Mourinho whose future as Manchester United manager was all the rage, as negotiations stalled over an extended contract and Paris St Germain apparently weighed up a bid. Before that, there were grumblings about Jurgen Klopp at Anfield and all this to the never-ending background hum of discontent about Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. This is a fetishism of the superstar manager, as a selection of the best, most illustrious, managers in the history of the sport jockey for position.

Big egos or not, only one team can win per year, and even that is no guarantee these days as longevity as a manager. Should Conte leave his job, as is widely expected, in the next few days, it is remarkable that he will join Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini and Roberto Mancini in the list of Barclays Premier League winning managers to have been shown the door in short order afterwards. This is night and day from some of the more rational set-ups like those witnessed in the Bundesliga, where sporting directors and directors of footballs take the pressure off head coaches.

Something wider is clearly at play here but the case of Chelsea and Conte is worthy of analysis in its own right. It was said of the firebrand Italian in the wake of that 4-1 defeat at Watford – it came hot on the heels of another defeat to Bournemouth - that it was as if the inner fire had been extinguished, but at points this season he has seemed only too keen to pick fights, whether it is through the media with Mourinho, despatching Diego Costa by text message or apparently being at war with the club’s directors about the recruitment policy. He certainly doesn’t seem in any hurry to fall on his own sword.

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But then, who should be surprised, if managers are hardening their own attitudes and developing their own strategies to counter a managerial environment where clubs feel they can dispense with them at the drop of a hat. The fact that clubs like Crystal Palace and Everton ripping up their strategies overnight, packing off the likes of Frank de Boer and Ronald Koeman, has resulted in the development of a strange new sub-sect of manager (Sam Allardyce, Roy Hodgson and David Moyes are prime examples) whose entire raison d’etre appears to be saving their clubs from a predicament. The strange example of Marco Silva, despatched by Watford for apparently being too distracted by a job he didn’t even get, is perhaps the case par excellence. It certainly would be if the Toffees also got rid of Allardyce and eventually did install Silva.

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Where this leaves the likes of Brendan Rodgers, whose focus tends to be on developing the players he has at his disposal, is unclear. He certainly doesn’t seem to figure in the runners and riders to replace Conte at Chelsea, his former club, and one of the few sides with the kind of stature which Celtic cannot offer him. Celtic’s struggles this season, in comparison with their previous campaign, prove that he too is not immune to that difficult second season. But at Celtic Rodgers has a stability and opportunity to develop players for the long-term which he would struggle to find anywhere in the Barclays Premier League right now. It might not seem like it, when you toil in a chilly wind on an artificial surface down at Rugby Park, but he is well shot of the place.