After Chelsea’s worst loss under Roman Abramovich’s helm, the panic button has been pressed. The stories surrounding Maurizio Sarri have increased and speculation regarding his job has risen yet again. When looked at properly, though, and with all factors in hand, this is a ridiculous statement to make.
People that want Sarri out are fake, reactionary and don’t understand his philosophy or the complexity of football. It is not a simple game, this is not a simple situation and, especially for Chelsea, perhaps this run of form further highlights previous failings. Maurizio Sarri is a top manager and his methods can and potentially will still work at Chelsea but, for Chelsea to succeed, Maurizio Sarri needs more time
Maurizio Sarri Needs More Time
Almost one year ago to the day, Chelsea lost 3-0 at home to Bournemouth under Antonio Conte. The following week they went away to Vicarage Road and lost 4-2 to Watford. The players gave in; the dressing room was lost; Conte never fully recovered. Even in the FA Cup final, it could be argued the players were playing for either self-pride or to give Conte a send-off.
This is an obvious parallel to Wednesday’s result, however, a lot has changed. Maybe not on the pitch, but Chelsea are experiencing a transition in every sense. They have another new manager but this time with a radical idea. The Chelsea board are backing the manager in the market, buying players suited to a system, looking for the right fit for Sarri. Marina Granovskaia is refusing to be bullied by Bayern Munich and the club have put faith and a lot of eggs into Callum Hudson-Odoi’s basket. By not choosing to sign a new midfielder to back up, Jorginho they are promoting youth from the top down. It looks like Chelsea, off the pitch, are adapting to Sarri.
How Chelsea Have Already Changed
By appointing an attacking manager with a polar view of football to previous Chelsea bosses, the club showed signs of moving on from defensive, counter-attacking and negative (not in a bad way, but a stylish way) managers. The move to Sarri was more than just for show; more than a stance of chasing and getting a high profile manager. Sarri is the start, present and future for Chelsea’s new stance.
The club are keeping closer tabs with loan players, specifically Mason Mount and Reece James. Meanwhile, they almost brought back Tammy Abraham in January, even if it was to then be loaned out again. This alone shows forward thinking. Yes, it could be business purposes to get another £5-10 million on his price tag, but it doesn’t seem that way. Chelsea are being sensible, thoughtful and proactive in their moves in the market.
Whereas under Conte Chelsea generally signed back up or unproven players, with the obvious exception of N’Golo Kante, Sarri has been fully backed. The club spent an additional £7 million on his contract initially, then buying his keystone, Jorginho. This was followed by the addition of Kepa Arrizabalaga, someone who might have been seen as a panic buy but is much the opposite. Chelsea were more than ready for Thibaut Courtois to leave and Arrizabalaga was close to the top of Chelsea’s list of replacements. For this reason, also, the thought of Eden Hazard leaving should not be feared. In this current structure and the way Chelsea are going about transfer dealings, it is likely they have a plan for all situations.
Granovskaia has been methodical in her dealings with keeping Willian. To the despair of most, he cannot afford to be lost as it would leave just three senior wingers (one being Hudson-Odoi with no Premier League starts and just 61 minutes in total).
The signing of Christian Pulisic might have raised eyebrows but he is an exciting prospect that does fit the bill for Sarri-type wingers, more than the current batch. Also, with him coming in the summer, it does not mean a reshuffle of the squad mid-season and doesn’t harm Hudson-Odoi’s needed and desired playing time.
These are not the signings of a club that are looking for instant success once again, they seem to be buying into Sarri’s process.