Written by Daniel Parr
Yesterday, Maurizio Sarri performed a Mourinho-esque ‘rant’ after his team were comprehensively beaten 2-0 at the Emirates. The Italian stated that his players are “extremely difficult to motivate” and that they lack “determination”. This has led to a huge reaction in the footballing world, with many seeing it as a make or break point in Sarri’s reign. However, with context, the Chelsea manager’s comments become significantly less worrisome
One predictable link that has come out of the press conference is one with Jose Mourinho. In his early years at Chelsea, Mourinho would often go public in his criticisms of his own players; Joe Cole was often told he “has to improve” by his manager. To some, this criticism seemed bizarre, but Joe Cole recently said in an interview with BT Sport that it helped him. Mourinho also did similar things with Didier Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho, so Sarri may well be trying to bring about the same effect.
In recent years, Mourinho has performed incredible rants about his players. During pre-season with Manchester United, he said that his side were “not a team” and that he “wouldn’t spend my money” to watch them. These condemnations of his side seemed emotionally driven, with no real tactical thought behind them. Sarri’s recent comments cannot be seen as the same; they seemed like words that he had thought about extensively, not just ones of an angered manager that had been thought of on the spot. With this in mind, the manager’s comments seem much more rational.
Sarri has often talked about his players’ motivation at Chelsea. After the 2-0 win over Manchester City, he stated, “We need continuity in motivation, we need continuity in determination, otherwise we will lose points in other matches”. These comments seem very similar to those said yesterday, but nothing was made of them as Chelsea had won the match. The fact that Sarri has already said this previously suggests that his worried about his players’ motivation have been there for a long time, which makes yesterday’s comments seem less erratic.
While by going public Sarri is risking being criticised himself, it should not be seen as something to be massively concerned about. The pundits that suggest that he has lost his head are wrong; his comments seemed calculated, in hope that it brings a positive reaction from his players. With a positive reaction, as well as the imminent arrival of Gonzalo Higuain, the Italian’s fortunes could be completely turned. Sarri has taken a risk with these comments, but they seem to be ones that are tactical rather than emotional, and should not be blown out of proportion.