That was the conclusion of former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, who feels that Chelsea miss cutting-edge stars like John Terry, Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and Diego Costa. His comments came after Blues manager Maurizio Sarri suffered yet another setback on Sunday night. Goals from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson helped Everton beat the Blues 2-0 at Goodison Park, which could throw a big spanner in their attempts to finish in the Premier League top four.
Neville was of the opinion that Sarri’s men could have been out of sight by half-time had they been more clinical. “If they win, they go and score two goals in the first half, you say it’s a masterclass of performance — they’ve controlled the game,” he said on his regular Sky Sports podcast.
“They lose and you start to think of them as being a little bit nice, a little bit passive. They’ve just not got that edge, something that makes that game in the first half two and three-nil. And Chelsea teams who have been brutal at times over this last 15 years since Roman Abramovich came in, some of the great Chelsea sides that have won leagues, they have been the most clinical and ruthless in both boxes.”
The former defender continued: “You think of (John) Terry and (Didier) Drogba and (Ricardo) Carvalho and that type of player that existed at this club. Diego Costa. They just lack that little bit of something and when you watch them today, it’s a team that’s evolving, it’s a team that’s obviously different than how it’s been in the past, they play a lot more passes, the centre-backs split to five yards off the touchline when the goalkeeper has the ball – it’s not something we’ve seen before.
“Yeah they’ve always played out from the back, they’ve also played direct, they’ve also been able to mix it, they’ve also been quite aggressive, physical. It’s a different team. It’ll be interesting at the end of the season, I think Sarri will get to the end of the season now which is a good thing, to see if they do believe in the style and they do believe in him.”
Sarri was also left perplexed by his team’s second-half showing against the Toffees, adding that his side was ‘in trouble’. “We played probably the best 45 minutes of the season and then suddenly at the beginning of the second half we stopped playing — I don’t know why,” he said.
“We were in trouble. The situation was clear, it’s clear the problem is not a physical problem, if it was physical you would go down gradually, not in one second. It’s probably a mental block. I don’t know [what happened] and the players don’t know what happened in the second half. I cannot explain it. We played the best first half in the season and we could have scored four or five and then suddenly we stopped playing. It’s very strange and we stopped to defend and counter-attack.”
Neville may well have hit the spot when it came to addressing the issue that seems to be ailing this iteration of Chelsea under Sarri, who are glorious one day and completely abysmal the next. The former player mentioned helped to be a winning mentality to Samford Bridge and was responsible for the clubs more successful period in its history, but this current lot just does not seem to be up for a fight like their predecessors. If Sarri does make it to the summer unscathed, he has a monumental task in fixing the London club’s squad not only in terms of personnel but also mentally.
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