Chelsea’s latest game, a 1-1 draw with struggling Southampton attracted a lot of criticism towards the team’s recent performances. They are lacking in fluidity going forward and are having a dry period in front of goal, scoring just 11 times in their last ten matches, compared to 20 in their first ten league matches. With the transfer window now open, it is clear a striker is needed. Not only do Chelsea need to score more goals but they need to spread the goals further throughout the team.
This much is evident but, so far, what is going wrong? Not too much, when you look realistically. Sarri is doing an exceptional job with a group of players that aren’t his. Leagues are not won by one game, they are not lost by one game. Managers are not defined by half a season, they are made over time. There is no problem at Chelsea Football Club. There needs to be a broader spectrum, people need to look at all the details. They need to think comparatively, not assume.
There is no Problem at Chelsea Football Club
A Messy Pre-Season
Things need to be taken into consideration. Chelsea finished fifth last year. They were poor all season. Laboured. Antonio Conte was under pressure from the media all year, giving bad interviews and sending bad messages to players and the board. The FA Cup success was a send-off for Conte and no more. It was a disastrous season.
The bad blood continued long into the summer. With speculation over Conte still strong and Thibaut Courtois not coming back, nothing was cleared up by Chelsea. Sarri was appointed with just four weeks until the Community Shield. For a top club, this is poor planning.
Arsenal set out and did the right thing. Arsene Wenger announced retirement before the end of the season, Unai Emery came in and signings were made. He had some time post-World Cup to start to embed his ideas.
For Sarri then to only have one player of ‘his own’ brought in before deadline day was less than adequate. Luckily, they managed to get deals for Mateo Kovacic and Kepa Arrizabalaga over the line and things were looking up.
Chelsea’s board were again a shambles. No order, no decision.
Chelsea are a club with such high standards, so a slow start for Sarri was never going to be accepted. Realistically, though, Chelsea still need to be judged properly. They have a new manager, someone who looks to be a plan for the future. A coach, and Chelsea’s first proper coach.
Sarri is also trying to change systems while keeping success. It is never going to be easy or quick. With players he doesn’t know as players or personally, this process is made even harder.
The Italian also has the task of getting to know his surroundings, the league, build bonds with the board, and win. All at once. This doesn’t happen.
Pep Guardiola didn’t win the league in his first season. He didn’t win a trophy. After a good start, Manchester City were inconsistent but showed signs of how Guardiola would play football in England. He had to shift players, invest over £200 million is his defence and take a season to get the feel for everything.
Jurgen Klopp finished eighth in his first half season as manager, only then taking fourth for the next two years. They came behind Spurs and Manchester United last year and the face for the top four went down the final day.
These are the front runners. They have both been there for three or more years, Klopp now being in his fourth. Sarri has been at Chelsea for less than six months.
On top of this, compared to Conte’s first season, he not only has to change team ideologies from a defensive team to attacking free-flowing team. Meanwhile, he has to cope with a Europa League schedule meaning they cannot work on formations, positions, phases and movements during the week.