When Chelsea announced Maurizio Sarri as manager late last summer I fully backed him like all Chelsea fans. Despite not winning anything as a manager his style of play previously at Napoli was an encouraging watch.
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A new style of play and system was always going to take time. However playing a high press system with ageing players was always going to be difficult to implement.
For me I liked the idea and philosophy that Sarri was trying to implement but I just didn’t feel he was the man to do it as the season progressed. People who know me will say that I’m always positive with regards to Chelsea and often look on the bright side. I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever lost patience with a Chelsea manager as quickly as I did with Maurizio Sarri and below is why:
The Players / The Board:
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I appreciate that the players do have to take some responsibility for what goes on but they simply didn’t look comfortable in this system and the squad is ageing. Manager’s in any line of work have to adapt to the players / staff they have. If the board hired Sarri knowing he could only play one way then they clearly didn’t do their homework!
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Sarri brought in Jorginho with him from Napoli as the heartbeat of the team dictating play. As a result N’Golo Kante has played further forward this season despite arguably being the best player in the world in his natural position.
It appeared Sarri couldn’t leave Jorginho out of this team and no one else could do the job he could. I do have sympathy for Jorginho as it is his first season but it appeared it was as simple as marking him out of the match and Chelsea had no other options. As the movement is poor within the team Jorginho results in passing backwards and sideways and it was exasperating for all to see. He did however improve as the season ended.
I was pleased to see the loan signing of Gonzalo Higuain in January but you could see how isolated he was. You can have the best striker in the world but if you can’t get the ball to him what’s the point?
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Finally on the players, yes they are to take some blame but should we have just sacked the lot and leave Sarri to rebuild? It’s never going to happen. Buck stops with the manager for me.
This is quote from David Luiz on the official Chelsea FC website on 16/2/19 appeared to be an attempt from the club to try and convince fans that the players were behind Sarri’s managerial philosophy. The club deliberately used the most senior player to front it! What concerned me most that if true why weren’t any of the players speaking up constructively in these meetings? No leaders?
Many will say that Sarri didn’t have a pre season to fully work on his new style of play and I sympathise to a point. What I don’t get is that he continued to play the same players over and over again. He could of used more fringe players and our great youth team! Fans would’ve been more patient and respected what he was trying to do. How can any manager question the mentality of his players but continue to play them again and again. Insanity.
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It’s been clear to see that especially Emerson had deserved more chance at playing left back replacing a very poor Alonso. It took Sarri ages to finally change it when it was clear for all to see. Callum Hudson-Odoi without any doubt deserved more game time but Sarri continued to play ageing players like Pedro and Willian. Like many I’m really not surprised that one of our most promising young English talents wanted to leave and I’m afraid that’s down to Sarri! Callum Hudson-Odoi finally started a Premier League in April for the first time.
Teams who come up against Chelsea really only had to focus on themselves as you didn’t have to be tactical genius to get a result. I’ve never known a Chelsea team to be so predictable in their approach. Chelsea didn’t really need to announce Sarri’s team selections before games throughout the season. We all knew what they’d be!
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Sarri continued to play the same way over and over again against all opposition we faced. Sarri said in one press conference that he can’t start looking at a Plan B until the team have mastered Plan A. Really? Surely it’s the other way round?
What was also increasingly concerning was that we were very slow on the ball and very poor when we didn’t have it.
Mind boggling substitutions this season from Sarri. Commonly like for like or they come on too late in the game. Matteo Kovacic for Ross Barkley or vice versa had become a joke amongst fans in the ground as we know it’s going to happen at some point in the second half. Makes absolutely no difference to the game.
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Other like for like substitutions include Willian/Pedro. Final straw for me was when Zappacosta replaced Azpilicueta when we were 2-0 down at home to Man United in the F.A Cup. Why not try something different? It almost feels despite Sarri being under pressure he was doing everything he could to get sacked!
The result’s at the start of the season were quite encouraging but we could all see that it wasn’t reflecting a true picture. When new systems are implemented you expect to see improvements gradually.
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I don’t expect Chelsea to win every week and nor do I expect trophies regularly but it’s the manner in defeat that has been disheartening.
The 4-0 loss at Bournemouth and the 6-0 drubbing at Manchester City were beyond embarrassing and two of our worst results in many years!
League defeats to Spurs, Arsenal, Leicester, Wolves, Everton, Liverpool and Man United in the F.A Cup have also been very disappointing and humiliating at times.
Finally I come to the fans. Over the years Chelsea fans predominantly have backed manager’s especially Mourinho and Conte in recent times. Many discussion’s on twitter will always give the fans an opportunity to agree and disagree. The Matthew Harding Stand made their feelings known what they thought of ‘Sarriball’ against Man United in the F.A Cup and further games and I honestly couldn’t disagree with them.
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I appreciate you can only beat who’s in front of you but the opposition we faced in the Europa League was pretty poor. I fully expected us to get to the later stages of the competition.
Finishing 3rd in the Premier League shocked me the most as we were dreadful at times with Hazard often carrying us. Other teams had poor results towards the end of the season and dropped many points. It wasn’t that we’d improved.👇
Written By Chris Wright