Why Sarri is the right man for Chelsea in the long term

Sarri is under more pressure after another Chelsea defeat. [Picture: Adam Matthews/PA Wire]

It’s possible Maurizio Sarri is playing a dangerous game at Chelsea, publicly criticising them after their defeats and describing his squad as “difficult to motivate”.

But despite a wobble this season, Chelsea need stability and while this 2018-2019 team won’t win the Premier League, Sarri should be considered part of a long-term plan that needs time. Indeed, the Italian’s meteoric rise always suggested he’d need time to adjust to England. After all, his first ever Serie A campaign was only four years ago.

But it could be a shrewd tactic by a man known for his quirky working methods like putting treats on the players’ menu to his open door policy, giving them a voice to air their concerns and ideas. That goes hand in hand with his hard-working devotion to the job, his intense attention to detail rubbing off on players who recognise his uncompromising approach.

His public remark following his side’s disappointing defeat to Arsenal earlier in the season would likely disrupt most dressing rooms but perhaps not one run by Sarri. Chelsea’s early season form was admired with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp telling the BBC it was “the biggest change in style” he had ever seen in such a short space of time.

Fans and opposition managers witnessed Sarri’s change in formation from previous manager Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 to a more attack-minded 4-3-3. “Sarri-ball” favours a higher pitch position for his players with an added emphasis on pressing the ball. It’s riskier football but the players were quick to acknowledge the rewards.

Chelsea: Ross Barkley

 Ross Barkley previously blamed his inconsistent career on a lack of good coaching but praised Sarri for giving him the chance to start a number of games and for inspiring an improvement in his performance.

And David Luiz has stressed that “everyone is with” the Italian, noting that last season one of the team’s biggest problems was keeping the ball. Now that has changed and the team is able to control the ball like the best teams in the world. Luiz told Sky the work Sarri has been doing this season is “amazing”.

Indeed, Chelsea are still favoured to make the top 4 according to the bookies, with Betway, which currently offers an attractive 100% deposit match up to £100 via UK bonus source, putting Sarri’s men ahead of the surging Manchester United.

Let’s not forget that Manchester City weren’t the finished article under Pep Guardiola’s leadership in his first season at the club. Chloe Beresford, writing on The Sack Race, recently said that Chelsea’s manager is “not polished or polite, he’s rough around the edges, but Chelsea need to stick with Maurizio Sarri.”

Despite some significant ups and downs this season, Sarri is now looking positively towards next season. He has reportedly met with the club’s hierarchy with his tenure at the club not reliant on whether he secures a Champions League place or not. A strong performance in the Europa League last 16 followed a spirited display against Man City in the Carabao Cup final. Successive Premier League victories after a string of defeats have also contributed to a more positive outlook at Stamford Bridge. 

In terms of motivation, he has opened his door to players to speak with him one-on-one about how the team can improve. That’s a trait some managers wouldn’t accommodate and something that worked at the beginning of the season. His work with Napoli in 2017-2018, which saw them finish league runners-up, was exceptional. It shows his methods work. It’s just a case of whether the players really believe it too.