The honeymoon period is well and truly over for Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea.
Following Saturday’s 2-0 defeat away to Arsenal — a game in which the Blues managed just a single shot on target, in the 82nd minute — Sarri went scorched earth on his players. So angry was Sarri that he insisted on speaking in Italian — through a translator — so as to clearly convey the full extent of his fury and “send a message to [his] players.”
He said that some of them are “extremely difficult to motivate”; that they “have an issue with determination and being mentally solid”; and that they “really struggle to get up for these (big) games” — quotes from the BBC:
“It’s an approach we can’t really accept. It was the same in our (League Cup semifinal) game against Tottenham.
“We thought we’d overcome that problem, but it seems we really struggle to get ourselves up for these games at times. I don’t mind losing, but I don’t like losing in this manner.”
“I’m really angry about the approach that we adopted today. You can find yourself in difficulties from time to time, but we need to react to those difficulties a lot better than we did today.”
He wasn’t finished there, though, for there was far more blame to dole out.
“From a technical point of view both teams were on the same sort of level, but they had a higher level of determination in both penalty areas, so tactics don’t come into it. I can’t possibly say I am not partly responsible for the defeat. We have to share it.
“This is not a team that is going to be well known for its battling qualities, but we need to become a team that is capable of adapting, possibly suffering for 10 or 15 minutes, and then playing our own football. Today we didn’t play our own football.”
No word yet on whether or not Sarri, whose job is to prepare and motivate his players ahead of every game, shoulders any of the blame for the above criticisms.
Now with just a three-point lead on the Gunners and Manchester United in the race for fourth, Sarri is going to need his players to back him in a big way in the coming weeks. He didn’t exactly endear himself to anyone with today’s comments.