Players are not buying into his methods, and are shocked by Kante’s treatment
Chelsea are going through tough time. What started as a wonderful season for them is now turning out to be a bad one. Chelsea have only scored once in their last three Premier Leagues. They are yet to register their first away Premier League win in 2019. After their 6-0 humiliating defeat by Manchester City there was an inquest held by Chelsea. With pressure of delivering victories increasing on Sarri, FIFA ban and rumors of Zidane replacing Sarri it seems this game could be Sarri’s last game as Chelsea boss.
Maurizio Sarri is likely to be sacked if the club are heavily defeated by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final. Chelsea players are mentally fatigued by Maurizio Sarri’s regime, with his over-detailed training sessions identified as one of the reasons for their swift decline in the last six weeks. Thomas Tuchel, the coach at Paris Saint-Germain, has been suggested by one intermediary used by the club as next year’s replacement but PSG will not allow their coach to go unless they want to replace him. Zinedine Zidane seems less likely, given the nature of the job, which essentially requires rebuilding the squad while under a one-year transfer ban, imposed by FIFA on Friday for breaking rules in recruiting youth players from overseas. Even if Chelsea’s appeal delays the ban, the club will not have much to spend in the summer given that they are likely to be in the Europa League at best next season and have already committed £58million on buying Christian Pulisic, who is on loan at Borussia Dortmund.
Some are questioning the system they have been asked to play. Sarri has even been asked directly by one senior player whether N’Golo Kante can return to his usual holding role to add more defensive stability. There is widespread bewilderment at the persistence with this 4-3-3 now that it has been exposed by so many teams. Training sessions seem very truncated, according to those present. Antonio Rudiger’s recent comments resonated: training is like being back at school, but not in a good way. The defensive unit may have five minutes being addressed by Sarri on positioning, while the attacking unit waits around. The roles can be reversed a few minutes later.
Some players want Sarri to adapt and play 4-2-3-1, with Kante holding alongside Jorginho and with Eden Hazard as a No 10. It would have the bonus of affording more opportunities to Callum Hudson-Odoi out wide.
Sarri works principally on what is known as ‘phase of play’. Essentially, it’s what position to take up and which passes to look for as an opponent’s attack breaks down and you transition into attack; or, as your own attack breaks down and you transition into defence. While all top coaches work obsessively on these transitions, under Sarri it has become a joyless exercise.