Tweaking, mentality, lack of quality, and stubbornness

I’m not going to speak in detail about the loss last night, that was hideously embarrassing. If I was a supporter who made the trip, I’d be knocking on doors at Stamford Bridge today demanding a refund.

But sack Sarri? Don’t be silly. It’s just past mid-season, whether you agree or not, he certainly needs more than half a season.

Having said that, there are a number of things that annoy me about his current reign. I fear that his stubbornness will end up getting him the sack. If something isn’t working, change it. If the players don’t get your system yet, tweak it, a bit. I’m one of the few who understands what he is trying to do here though. I get his system. It’s about quick passing and interchanges, leading to ‘goals’…

I’d rather boss a game, than be defensive and rely on opposition mistakes. But with that said, I’d also rather win matches. We aren’t turning our possession into goals, so therefore it becomes boring and frustrating. If we were scoring and winning, nothing but good things would be said right now. But we aren’t, and that cannot be ignored.

Sarri blames lack of motivation from his players, and I agree to an extent – some of these players mentalities are a disgrace. They down tools when things aren’t going well, and there is nobody standing up and being counted. A lack of leaders, maybe. A lack of balls, absolutely. They are all too quick to hide and not take responsibility. They are ALL to blame, none of them have the strength to go to war, to battle and dig in. Even Eden Hazard looks lost at times and his head already looks in Madrid.

Sarri also says they haven’t learnt his system, and that he’s surprised. Well, I’m not. We have lacked quality for many years now and previous managers have said the same thing. We have an ageing squad with many average players. I’m not surprised we can’t provide that creative and cutting edge, because we simply don’t have a lot of that in the squad. The board need to sign better and younger players. We also need to release the deadwood.

The main issue is the players lack the quality to play the way that Sarri wants. We lack creativity, we don’t have the flair, we lack the quality.

However, Sarri needs to look at this, and adjust. I get he wants to play his way, but for me that’s impossible unless we add two or three more quality players in the attacking third.

Sarri’s substitutions are late, and uninspiring. When we are down by 2 or 3, this is when he needs to look at it and make drastic changes. Bring another forward on, mix it up, try something different.

His tactics have been found out by the opposition. They know what to do, they contain our possession knowing that there won’t be much threat, and they counter attack knowing we are vulnerable under those situations. It’s really quite easy to play against Sarri’s Chelsea right now if you ask me. Teams with pace will always have a good chance of getting goals against us. It’s scary really.

Sarri also needs to be using the quality that he does have. Hudson-Odoi not even on the bench? Ridiculous! He’s our second best winger, period. I don’t dislike Pedro and Willian, I do. But Hudson-Odoi is better.

Same with Kovacic. I think he’s a great quality player, but is clueless in attacking situations. He’s much better playing deep. So, start Loftus-Cheek, who has much better quality in the attacking sense. Use what quality you do have.

Damn, right now people like Ethan Ampadu should even be starting, if you want to talk about lack of balls and mentality. He’s your man there. Reece James is your man there, get him back, play him. They won’t be any worse than some of the deadwood playing here and they’ll give you 100% as supposed to the half hearted crap on display last night.

But a lot of it is on Sarri as I said. Bringing off Higuain in a straight swap for Giroud last night? Unbelievable. If anything, bring Giroud on there as well and hammer balls into the box, the passing possession game WAS NOT WORKING. Try something else.

Now when I speak about a plan B, I don’t mean it in the sense that others are saying. If you want to play a passing possession based game, brilliant, I’m all for that. But why not tweak the formation to trump opponents?

Below I have a formation that I would much rather see us start every game….

If we play like this, it gives extra protection for counter attacks. It allows Kante to help out defensively as well as offensively. It gives free’s up Jorginho to be able to orchestrate. And it allows our best attacking and creative players to be able to work their ‘magic’ in more advanced positions. It will also get Loftus-Cheek closer to Higuain and Hazard, where they can link up and create more. This is a no brainer for me. I even think Willian would be OK in the ten role.

But will Sarri change it? Absolutely not. Which in my opinion, will end up being his downfall sooner rather than later.

To balance it out though, if Chelsea decide to back him in the summer – which they really need to do, then his system could thrive, and could be successful. If he gets a few more players of quality, and more leadership, we could end up seeing a very attractive style of football at Stamford Bridge.

But it’s a massive ‘IF’. The board obviously chose Sarri because they bought into his philosophy, so they need to back him with better players. Sarri has always said it’s not about the players and he can train anyone. But unfortunately, I think he may have met his match with this group of players, who have needed a massive clear out and shake up for some time now.

I’ll conclude by saying, I’m not giving up on Sarri, and give me attacking based football over defensive containment any day. I’m prepared to allow some more patience to get this. But Sarri MUST make tweaks, and MUST improve his in-game management.

Simon Phillips


16 thoughts on “Tweaking, mentality, lack of quality, and stubbornness

  1. Beautiful write up.
    I will appreciate if you can push the board to bring back Reece and really support the coach with creative players and also quick feet. I also must say you can’t tell Pep to change is Plan A because of average weak players.
    Keep the good work.


      1. Spot on as usual Simon. Mt favorite part was “If something isn’t working, change it.”
        But I’ll emphasize on Sarri’s stubborness and ego. The regular starters are too comfortable, hence; the kids should come in, but they know Sarri won’t play them.
        We need a coach who loves chelseafc throughly even to the academies and not just the stars. How many of our academy stars genuinely stand a chance under Sarri? Answer is Zero. Your academy is your future.


  2. The manager should change his formation and use that 4-2-3-1, there is no harm in trying but he is to stubborn to even change and not using the players that he has


  3. Nice write up Simon. First i want to start with “You dont criticise your best player in public” how on earth will say; Eden is 28 if he wants to go, he should leave. Every teams wants to keep their best player. I have been reading your articles on Twitter. Man you’re doing a very good job. Yes I’ve been a Chelsea fan since 2003. I can tell you we’ve had rocks playing in that DM position. Sarri should allow Kante play his preferred position. Kante won everything from that DM role in 2017. Give Odoi chance to play, Barkly/RLC can play ahead of Kante and Jorginho in that heart of midfield, this would allow hazard and Odoi do the damage outwide, Odoi is too brilliant. With this guy on the right, balls will go to Higuain.
    while in defense, liuz can be clueless atimes he should try to play Christensen in some league games too. I’m not happy happy with Jorginho playing that DM. A midfielder that has more than 5000 passes yet no assist,
    is that one a midfielder? Lampard broke Bobby Tamblings record against Aton villa in stamford when he scored his 211 goals from midfield for Chelsea. Ballack scored some goals too from midfield, I don’t want to mention names, but am just not happy with this Sarri guy. He’s too old for my liking, sorry am saying this; I think I prefer Mauricio Pochettino. Sarri is too stubborn, if he continues with this I see hazard leaving for Madrid.

    I would love to see this!!


    Hazard Loftuscheek Odoi

    Kante Jorginho

    Emerson Christensen Rudiger Aspili


    #KBFFH #CFC @ozzyfire06 #Thankyou

    Check me me on Twitter: @ozzyfire06
    kindly give a follow back, thank you.


    1. Has it not occurred to you that Sarri might just be trying to get him to make a decision? His indecision can’t be helping and I feel we’re too reliant on him. I could be wrong, but I think what Sarri was doing was trying to get a decision so that we can plan ahead, whilst also trying to take some of the emphasis off of him, maybe a ‘we are okay to think of a future without him.’ That may seem wrong, but I get why he did it and we need to be prepared for it, because it’s not right to have a player that doesn’t want to be here, you’ll never get the best out of them.


  4. This and your colleagues three articles on what needs to happen have been very well balanced. I’ve been saying it since Mourinho’s second spell, and the league finishes have only gone on to provide further evidence of what I’ve been saying, but the players really are to blame. We’re on to out third manager under this group and the same patterns are there. One manager, I can understand, but three? That points to me that change is maybe happening in the wrong place? I agree we need to back him and judge from there, but his stubbornness is killing him. Why do we always get, whether it be defensive, or on this occasion attacking, managers who are so rigid and pragmatic in their ways?


  5. I agree with most of what you say Simon, certainly I would make the same shift that you suggest to a 4-2-3-1 and I also share your view that CHO is our second best winger. If Willian and Pedro were pulling up trees then by all means keep playing them but Willian has been well below par this year and for all Pedro’s enthusiasm he lacks the natural pace and threat that CHO has – who is far more direct.

    I also would like to see RLC in the attacking midfield role, Kante is so good that in a 4-2-3-1 he would still get forward to be on the end of goals like against City and it would take some heat off of Jorginho who clearly needs a rest. Kovacic is a very tidy footballer but as you say, should be competing for that holding role, no further forward.

    We don’t seem to have enough players making a move into our box and our attacking play in the final 3rd is passing by numbers. The only time we look to score now is when a player hits a longer diagonal ball (see Luiz to Pedro, Pedro to Kante, Christensen to CHO) and a player times his run well. I don’t see us ever really passing through teams despite this being the preferred approach. We are far too slow and cumbersome in the final 3rd and there is no incision or movement at all.

    I agree it is wrong to call for his sacking so early, but when you are seeing regression rather than progression and the concern that four of your best players (Hazard, Kante, RLC and CHO) are looking at leaving to find a solution to play in the positions they want, it definitely needs to be addressed.


  6. The problem with sarri is that he is very rigid and that’s what could lead to his down fall but the 4 2 3 1 formation is good . Another problem with sarri style of play is that it is easy to defend since it is very predictitable


  7. My problem with this team is that the midfielders are not creative and lacks quality in the build up play and attack. Sarri-ball is supposed to be a quick vertical passes but our midfielders move the ball too slow and looks clueless. Even if Kante plays as a CDM we will still struggle. Jorginho is very excellent regista but he doesn’t get any good support from the other midfielders. The only player who seems to understand the system apart from Jorginho is Kante. However, Hazard seems to do his own thing on the pitch. William, Barkley, kovetic and Alonso are just not good enough. We need midfielders who are press resistance, good passing ability, flair and creative.


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