Since the turn of the year, Chelsea’s results have been very inconsistent, with much of the blame put on Maurizio Sarri. Humiliating defeats away to Bournemouth and Manchester City have lead to serious questioning of Sarri’s position, both inside and outside of the club. So, is Sarri still the right man to take Chelsea forward?
If you ask any Chelsea fan, they’ll tell you that Sarri’s stubbornness is a key reason as to why these rumours of a mid-season sacking are coming about. And they have a point.
Up until the Carabao Cup Final, Chelsea lined up in exactly the same way. A 433 with Jorginho at the base of the midfield. It was getting to the point where you could actually predict the exact minute of substitutions, mainly with the Barkley-Kovacic swap. Sarri has been very predictable in both his tactics and in game management.
But are we seeing a change?
“The players asked to defend deeper and I think we have to play like that, I said the same thing on Sunday. We are more solid like this and we still express ourselves and play good football, so why not continue this way?”Sarri when asked about a potential tweak of tactics
In both the latest games against Manchester City and Tottenham, Chelsea have defended much deeper than previously, but still incorporated elements of Sarri’s style. It’s worked very well, limiting both teams to few attempts on the Chelsea goal.
In a recent interview, Sarri admitted that he’s still learning the league and this recent change in approach shows that he’s beginning to adapt to the English game. This Chelsea team is far from perfect and is still a long way away from playing ‘Sarriball’ in a fluid and consistent way, but there are key signs of improvement and Sarri has to be praised for that.
The other key issue when analysing Sarri’s Chelsea team is his reluctance to play the youth amongst other players. He came into Chelsea with the advice of Pep Guardiola still ringing in his ear. To use and focus on a core group of 14 players.
That has seen players such as Emerson, Christensen, Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi limited to Premier League cameos and Europa League games. But again, that is starting to change. Emerson is getting a much more consistent run in the team, whilst Christensen started today against Fulham. A persistent back injury has hampered Loftus-Cheek’s season, and Hudson-Odoi is becoming a more prominent member of Chelsea’s squad.
There’s still a desire to see more of these players, and that is starting to happen. But the pressure of the Chelsea hotseat means that risks such as changing the lineup too much and dropping big names can see a manager lose his job if the right results don’t follow.
This season hasn’t been a smooth one for Chelsea but that was expected when Sarri was brought in. With a transfer ban incoming, Sarri only has one window to mould his squad. It makes more sense to back Sarri and continue this project by bringing in the players he needs than start all over again with a new manager.
Maurizio Sarri isn’t without faults, but his two main flaws, his stubbornness in tactics and lack of minutes for youngsters is starting to change. If we back him, he could be very successful for us.
But there’s one thing I wouldn’t do and that’s sack him.
By James Smith