Maurizio Sarri says he will not bend to player power at Chelsea and has no problems pointing the finger of blame at members of his squad who don’t step up.
Chelsea fell to a 2-0 defeat against London rivals Arsenal on Saturday, a result which saw the Gunners and Manchester United move just three points behind them in the Premier League.
Is Sarri already under pressure? Five key things to know…
- Sarri took over from Antonio Conte, who won a Premier League title and the FA Cup during his two years with Chelsea.
- A 0-0 draw with Everton in November meant Sarri was unbeaten in his first 12 Premier League games, a record for a new manager.
- Since then, however, the Blues have struggled for consistency and have dropped to fourth in the table.
- Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal saw the Gunners and Man Utd close the gap behind them to just three points.
- Sarri has come out fighting, saying he will stick with his style of play and isn’t scared of player power.
The Blues fired a blank in that game, which means they have scored just seven goals in their last seven league outings, but Sarri doesn’t see any risk in calling his players out, despite a suggestion that player power has been a defining factor in the merry-go-round-style of appointment at Chelsea during the Abramovich era.
“I don’t know. It is my character, though,” Sarri told reporters at the Emirates Stadium. “I don’t think it is risky. These guys have a sensible head on their shoulders, so I don’t think I am risking anything.
“I said the players are difficult to motivate but by the same token, there are players who are sensible, who will listen and won’t take it the wrong way. There might be a slight risk, but I don’t think there is. This is my character – I am a straight-talker.
“This is how I speak. Yes, sometimes when you speak in that way it might cause some upset or some conflict, but it doesn’t cause any lingering bitterness. I think we probably do [have leaders].
“I think we might even have someone who is capable of embodying the characteristics I have talked about. Of course, there is always a danger a leader emerges who is a bad leader – who doesn’t necessarily do the kind of things that I want the team to do.
“Nevertheless I do think we need to change the mentality and I do think within the group of players we do have that ability and the characteristics to change.”
Fewest shots on target by a top six team in a Premier League game so far this season:
• Spurs: 1 vs. Man City
• Man Utd: 1 vs. Man City
• Chelsea: 1 vs. Arsenal
Not a trio you want to be part of… pic.twitter.com/o10929rbGP
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 20, 2019
‘We will continue with Sarrismo’
Despite Chelsea’s struggles in recent months, Sarri does not believe it is to do with his style of play, often referred to as ‘Sarrismo’, and insists his side will be sticking to their guns.
“I am a good teacher of this football. I don’t think it would be a good idea if I try to teach my players a different type of football,” Sarri added.
“There will be some changes perhaps but there will be no massive upheaval.
“When I came here certainly I realised the group had a huge amount of potential. There is no doubt about that. I don’t think it would be correct for me to talk about being disappointed with what I found when I arrived.”
Sarri then went on to back the potential of his squad, believing he has more than enough talent at his disposal to create success at Stamford Bridge.
“When I arrived, of course, I knew the team was coming off the back of a pretty disappointing season,” the Italian said.
“Over the last couple of years they have a lost some really important points of reference for the club. But certainly, the team has a lot of potential.”
Chelsea face Tottenham in the League Cup semi-final second leg on Thursday.