Maurizio Sarri on the brink after Chelsea’s worst defeat in 23 years… but what’s gone wrong?

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Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri appears frustrated during his side


Maurizio Sarri’s job is on the line after Chelsea were humiliated by Bournemouth, losing by a four-goal margin for only the second time in Premier League history.

The other time was against Liverpool in 1996, before the Roman Abramovich era began, and Sarri admitted afterwards that he cannot motivate these players.

Why? What is it that allows Chelsea’s form to fall off a cliff under certain managers? Does player power exist? Or is it the coach’s fault? Here, Sportsmail analyses the situation.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri appears frustrated during his side's 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri appears frustrated during his side’s 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth

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How did it get to this point – Chelsea’s worst defeat in the league for 23 years?

It usually takes the Chelsea manager longer to lose the dressing room. We saw it happen under Jose Mourinho (win the title in 2015, finish 10th in 2016) then Antonio Conte (win the title in 2017, finish fifth in 2018). 

Maurizio Sarri has achieved the feat inside his debut season, primarily because the squad do not agree with his ‘Sarri-ball’ system. Sarri is stubborn and believes in his philosophy, hence his public digs at the players after losses.

So whose fault is it – the board, the manager or the players?

Chelsea’s players do appear to have accelerated the cycle of downing tools, though it is not entirely their fault. Sarri says he cannot motivate them. Well, sorry, but that’s your job. Being a successful manager means more than just being a brilliant tactician. 

Jurgen Klopp has found the balance. Sarri hasn’t. Chelsea’s board appointed a coach who had never won anything in his career and now he is isolated. It’s him versus the players, and we know who usually wins.

Chelsea's players look dejected after Bournemouth's fourth goal on Wednesday evening

Chelsea's players look dejected after Bournemouth's fourth goal on Wednesday evening

Chelsea’s players look dejected after Bournemouth’s fourth goal on Wednesday evening

This is the third manager where results have dipped alarmingly… why does this keep happening?

Player power. It is not exclusive to Chelsea. Look at Manchester United now. Jose Mourinho is there, the mood stinks, United struggle. Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer takes over, mood rises, results follow. 

Sarri’s public digs about motivation do not help. Modern-day dressing rooms have big screen televisions on the walls and they tend to show Sky Sports News. 

Imagine you are Eden Hazard, or N’Golo Kante, or Cesar Azpilicueta, and your boss has just said that to the world. Former players will tell you there is nothing more humiliating.

Why did Chelsea bring in Maurizio Sarri in the first place?

Club director Marina Granovskaia revealed why after his appointment. 

‘Maurizio’s Napoli side played some of the most exciting football in Europe, impressing with their attacking approach and dynamism,’ she said, ‘and his coaching methods significantly improved the players at his disposal.’ 

Indeed Sarri’s Napoli were mesmerising and Chelsea hoped he could deliver that in the Premier League after a dull time under Antonio Conte. It was brave from the Blues, but perhaps now it is beginning to look silly.

Chelsea hoped Sarri would implement the style he used at Napoli, but it hasn't worked out

Chelsea hoped Sarri would implement the style he used at Napoli, but it hasn't worked out

Chelsea hoped Sarri would implement the style he used at Napoli, but it hasn’t worked out

What’s going wrong tactically on the pitch?

If we had a pound for every time someone has asked ‘Why does he play N’Golo Kante out of position?’, we’d be able to afford a week’s wage for Eden Hazard. So there’s that issue. 

There is also Jorginho, the man who makes them tick. Bournemouth striker Joshua King said they purposely targeted the midfielder and did a job on him. They cut ‘Sarri-ball’ off at the source. Does Sarri have a Plan B when that happens? Apparently not.

And the fans are getting restless?

‘You don’t know what you’re doing,’ sang Chelsea’s travelling supporters at the Vitality Stadium. That was in reaction to Gonzalo Higuain being replaced by Olivier Giroud. That is never a good sign. 

Fans were promised free-flowing, attacking football. So far, they’ve seen a lot of sideways passing and then some more sideways passing. Eden Hazard has got them out of jail too many times. Imagine if he had joined Real Madrid in the summer…

Summer signing Jorginho attempts to catch up with Junior Stanislas at the Vitality Stadium

Summer signing Jorginho attempts to catch up with Junior Stanislas at the Vitality Stadium

Summer signing Jorginho attempts to catch up with Junior Stanislas at the Vitality Stadium

Will Sarri be sacked before the end of the season?

Quite possibly, if Chelsea feel this coach versus player situation becomes too much of a problem. 

The club currently sit fifth in the Premier League and they will not tolerate finishing outside of the top four for a third season in five. Champions League football is a must for owner Roman Abramovich. 

Should they start to slip, however, then we may be saying ‘arrivederci’ to Sarri before the summer.

What are the alternatives to Sarri?

Anyone for ‘Conte-ball’? Jokes aside, the likeliest candidate to take over from Sarri, should he be given the boot, is for assistant Gianfranco Zola to step up. The likeable Italian was apparently one of the coaching staff kicked out of the dressing room while Sarri held his inquest. 

Diego Simeone, who has been boss of Atletico Madrid since 2011, has long been linked. He would take no prisoners…

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone would be a contender to replace Sarri at Chelsea

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone would be a contender to replace Sarri at Chelsea

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone would be a contender to replace Sarri at Chelsea

Where does Eden Hazard’s future lie?

Sarri has not hid his frustration at the Belgian’s continued reluctance to sign a new contract and his flirtations with Real Madrid. ‘If he wants to go, I think he has to go,’ the Chelsea boss said this week. 

Imagine when Hazard is sat in that dressing room at Bournemouth, or at Cobham today, getting told off by Sarri. What must he be thinking? He seems as far away from signing as ever.

Where do the club go from here?

Chelsea fans will hope up, into the top four. Make no mistake, they are set for a huge month. First, they host Huddersfield at Stamford Bridge – a momentous match for Sarri, who cannot lose to the side sitting bottom of the Premier League. 

Chelsea then travel to Manchester City, before facing Malmo in the Europa League. Then there is Manchester United in the FA Cup, then Malmo again, then Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final, then Tottenham in the league! Good luck, Maurizio.

Eden Hazard is a Real Madrid target and is yet to commit his future to Chelsea with a new deal

Eden Hazard is a Real Madrid target and is yet to commit his future to Chelsea with a new deal

Eden Hazard is a Real Madrid target and is yet to commit his future to Chelsea with a new deal

THE LAST TIME CHELSEA WERE BEATEN BY FOUR GOALS IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE 

The last time Chelsea were defeated by four goals in the Premier League was way back in 1996, when Liverpool thrashed Ruud Gullit’s side 5-1 at Anfield.

Patrik Berger scored twice for the hosts, while Robbie Fowler and John Barnes were also on the scoresheet, along with an own goal from Andy Myers.

Chelsea’s consolation came via a Frank Leboeuf penalty in the 86th minute. 

 

 



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