Maurizio Sarri‘s time at Chelsea seems increasingly likely to end this summer.
The Italian coach has been critical of his Chelsea team on several occasions this season, as he slammed them after a defeat at Arsenal earlier this campaign and has openly questioned the motivation levels of the squad.
Their 2-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday summed up the biggest problem under Sarri so far: inconsistency.
In the first half they were vastly superior, hitting the post through Eden Hazard and creating several chances to score. But in the second half they were extremely poor and Sarri is at a loose end trying to figure it all out.
“It is difficult for the players to explain the change to me. It is very difficult for me to explain the change to you. Probably it is a mental block, I think,” Sarri said. “At the moment, this is our limit. If we are able to play like in the first half with consistency then we are in another position in the table. We have this problem because we lost a similar match at Wolverhampton [in December]. We lost again in this way, for us it is a big limit.”
Sarri is scratching his head right now, but the same old problems keep coming back to haunt Chelsea. The Italian coach has been stubborn with his tactics and personnel choices, and there isn’t that much he has changed throughout the campaign, as there have been severe highs and lows with a League Cup final defeat on penalty kicks and big wins in the PL coupled with heavy defeats to giants and minnows alike.
Jekyll and Hyde displays have littered their season, as Chelsea fail to take chances after dominating and then completely go into their shells. Not knowing their best lineup in attack is holding Sarri-ball back, with Higuain, Giroud and a plethora of wide players constantly switched in and out of the team. There is no rhythm. No consistency. Just flashes of brilliance. Then moments of madness.
When you look at Sarri’s deployment of N'Golo Kante in a more advanced role, the way he was overpowered in the second half at Everton summed up the fact that Sarri just doesn’t have the players to play the way he wants to at Chelsea. And that isn’t going to change.
Despite all of that, Chelsea are just three points off the top four but the way they are playing and how inconsistent they have been all season is the main reason for concern.
The only reason Sarri may stay on beyond this season is if he gets Chelsea into the UEFA Champions League via the top four or winning the Europa League. Right now the latter seems like their best bet. His only saving grace is that with a transfer ban for the next two windows hanging over the club, what top manager is seriously going to step into that situation and want to take over at Chelsea?
If Sarri actually wants to stay, Chelsea may have to keep him to try and steady the ship amid plenty of uncertainty surrounding owner Roman Abramovich and FIFA’s sanctions against them.
Chelsea isn’t a happy club right now, and Sarri isn’t a happy man. Usually, the Blues are the most ruthless club around. They haven’t got that luxury anymore. If they did, Sarri would already be gone.