Paul Merson: My worry for Chelsea next season
Paul Merson explains why defending the Premier League title will be even harder than ever for Chelsea next season
Paul Merson has warned Chelsea boss Antonio Conte that defending the Premier League title is “100 times harder” than winning it for the first time.
The Blues have been the Premier League’s top performing team this season and will lift the trophy in front of their home fans after their clash with Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
Chelsea have earned plenty of praise for their remarkable turnaround under Conte this season after their disastrous 10th-placed finish last term left them without a trophy.
The west London side struggled to find form last season after having lifted the Premier League and EFL Cup under Jose Mourinho in the 2014-15 campaign.
Conte is preparing his side for a return to the Champions League next season as he bids to help his team compete on four fronts.
However, Merson has warned Conte that Chelsea will need to step their game up if they want to defend their title next season.
Writing in his column for the Daily Star, Merson said: “Defending the title is 100 times harder than winning it and the pressure will be on him next season because everyone will be gunning for Chelsea.
“You only have to look at what happened when they won it the last time. They lost the plot and Jose Mourinho ended up with the sack.
“It’s so hard to win it again. Players switch off and lose focus. Other teams raise their game against the champions and Chelsea will have extra games from being back in the Champions League.
“But this manager doesn’t mess about. He doesn’t let you drop off. He churned out title after title at Juventus and everybody wanted to beat them.
“He needs to buy well this summer. This is where the big managers earn their money – by getting top-drawer players to sign for their club.”
Chelsea take on Arsenal in the FA Cup final at the end of the month.