Maurizio Sarri‘s future at Chelsea is increasingly on thin ice but the Italian coach is adamant that it is business as usual for the Blues despite their alarming slump.
Chelsea were dumped out of the FA Cup by Manchester United on Monday and have now lost five of their last 10 games in all competitions. Fans are booing Sarri’s decisions with substitutes and many are calling for him to be fired as he persists with his “Sarri-ball” philosophy on the pitch.
Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg against Malmo at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, Sarri reaffirmed his stance that he’s in it for the long haul.
“I have to think that I will be the manager of Chelsea for a long time, otherwise I cannot work. I am not sure (if I will be here for a long time), but I have to think this. I have to work and I want to work with a long-range target,” Sarri said. “Of course in this moment it’s very difficult to think we’re able to win three, four matches in a row. As you know very well in football everything can change in one day. I think we need first of all a good performance, a good result and with more confidence we are able to do anything.”
Sarri added that he hasn’t held meetings with owner Roman Abramovich or director Marina Granovskaia this week about his future, and he is fully focused on turning things around after a desperate run of results and performances.
Ahead of the League Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday — Sarri’s men are the heavy underdogs after their 6-0 thrashing at the hands of City 10 days ago — he revealed that Pedro has a stomach ache, Davide Zappacosta has a fever and goalkeeper Kepa has a hamstring issue which could keep him out of the game.
Bigger picture, Sarri’s struggles come at a real crossroads for Chelsea as a club.
Do they fire Sarri and bring in another big name coach to try and get the best out of these players in the short-term? Or do they back him and look to the example of Man City under Pep Guardiola after his struggles in the PL in the first season?
History suggests Sarri will be fired extremely soon but Chelsea’s problems are more about the ageing and powerful playing squad they have than any coach. A huge overhaul is needed in terms of new players being brought in, but Abramovich seems just about as disinterested as he ever has during his 16 years as Chelsea’s owner.
There are many things Sarri can be accused of getting wrong tactically (N'Golo Kante being played out of position, the importance placed on Jorginho etc.) but the one thing which must change at the club if they’re going to progress in the next few years is clear: the players.
Chelsea must decide right now if they stick with Sarri and back him in the transfer market, or if they cut him loose now and continue on the boom-bust cycle which they’ve fared well with under Abramovich’s brutal reign.