"Antonio Conte has left his post as head coach of Chelsea. The club would like to thank him for his contribution and wish him well for the future."

No, not a Japan Times exclusive, but a paragraph that will be coming your way in the coming months, maybe even weeks. Chelsea is in a mess on the field and off it. Yes, it is third in the Premier League only three points behind Manchester United and has lost only one of its last 16 Premier League games (though five draws in the last seven games in all competitions paints a more accurate picture of the club's form).

Being tucked in behind the second-place team would usually be encouraging, but this season is unlike any other with record-breaking Manchester City 15 points ahead of Chelsea with 14 matches remaining. Distant runner-up is the best the chasing pack can hope for which was not what Roman Abramovich had in mind last August. Yes, Chelsea is still in the F.A. Cup and plays Newcastle United at home on Sunday.