Why Chelsea should not sack Maurizio Sarri
It was only 10 days ago that Chelsea suffered their worst league defeat in 23 years to Bournemouth. The 4-0 loss at Dean Court was a capitulation beyond imagination by the Blues. However, that record did not stay for long.
At the Etihad stadium, Chelsea suffered a humiliating 6-0 battering by Manchester City. This was not only the worst defeat in the Roman Ambramovic era but also the first time the Blues have conceded six goals in a Premier League game. It is clear to say that Chelsea have hit an all-time low under Maurizio Sarri.
Chelsea's history with managers is well-known. The constant turnovers of head coaches is something that has become synonymous with the club. Hence, whenever there is a run of poor results, the job of the head coach is under the scanner.
After a string of embarrassing defeats, there are questions bound to be raised about Sarri's job. Speculations in media are likely to pick up about when Roman Ambramovic will hand him the pink slip. While Chelsea fans are left debating whether it will right for the club to stick or twist with the Italian.
Will Chelsea sack a manager at this time of the season?
Whenever the job a manager is at risk, while the merits of the decision are important but it is also crucial to consider the timing. This begs the question on whether Chelsea will take the decision to sack Sarri at this stage of the season. A look back at history will suggest that this is the exact moment they might opt to do so.
In Roman Abramovic's time at the club, there are only two managers who have lost their job in their first season. The first of those was Luis Felipe Scolari who faced the axe in 2009. The decision to remove him was announced on 9th February. The second coach was Andre Villas-Boas who was discharged from duties on 4th March 2009.
Quite clearly, the club will be more than willing to take a decision right now. With Chelsea's place in the Champions League looking at risk, if the board have to make the big decision, it will happen in the near future.
Is Sarri to blame?
The big question that arises is whether Maurizio Sarri is to blame. While it remains debatable whether he is the biggest reason behind Chelsea's poor form, there is no doubt that he deserves some criticism.
For starters, Chelsea' style of football is nowhere near as attractive as the Stamford Bridge faithful imagined. In truth, the Blues have only got worse as the season has progressed. Despite glaring issues, Sarri has barely tried to change anything tactically.
Moreover, his team selection raises more questions than one. Sarri has been extremely reluctant to change his starting XI despite them not doing the job for him. His loyalty to certain players has been beyond astonishing and has come to hurt him. Beyond that, Sarri's in-game management and substitutions have been questionable, to say the least.
One of the biggest problems with Sarri is him preferring older players over younger ones. This is clearly something that does not really help a long term project in any way especially when the current results are not favorable.
Another huge fault from Sarri has been his refusal to use players on the fringes in the Premier League. One can argue that Maurizio Sarri has a lot of solutions on his disposal within the squad. It is hard to understand why Emerson lost his place after one game while Marcos Alonso continues to get countless opportunities.
The same goes for Andreas Christensen who found himself on the bench against City despite putting in an impressive performance against Huddersfield. Sarri's refusal to use Callum Hudson-Odoi is nothing short of astonishing with Willian and Pedro not impressing one bit. How Ross Barkley continues to start in midfield ahead of Ruben Loftus Cheek needs a lot of explaining.
Having lost 4-0 and 6-0 in a space of 10 days, there is a more than a good case to make for people to call for Maurizio Sarri's head. However, the first question to ask is who do Chelsea turn to if they let the Italian go. Is there any decent coach who is currently free for Chelsea to call to save their season?
Moreover, there comes a point when one has to ask, is it really about the manger? While Sarri's team selection is dubious, these are still Chelsea players and losing 4-0 and 6-0 is simply unacceptable. Under even the worst tactical setup, such performances from a team of Chelsea's caliber is unacceptable. One must remember the tremendous amount of mistakes that the players are making. For example, at least four of the six goals against City were down to individual errors.
It was quite clear that this squad is crying for an overhaul. A lot of players are either not good enough or are past their best. Some of them have been here for way too long. Whether Chelsea stick with Maurizio Sarri or not, this is an area that needs to be addressed.
With the current group of players, it is hard to see any manager doing any better. Even Pep Guardiola himself is unlikely to work any miracles. If the solution was just to bring a new manager in, what explains the team finishing 10th and 5th in two of the last three seasons under two serial winners. If it was just having a different tactical setup, why did the team collapse in similar fashion last season?
The problems at Chelsea are cleary. much bigger. Since the glorious triumph in 2012, Chelsea has only made the Champions League semi-final once. As things stand, the FA Cup holders are set to miss on Europe's elite competition for the third time in four seasons. Its high time that Roman Abramovic has a wider look at the issues that persist at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri deserves time
If Chelsea are to part ways with Sarri now, it is only going to make their decision to appoint him look silly. Questions will rightly be raised about why did the club hire him if he was never going to be given even a full season. If the Chelsea hierarchy believed Sarri will be able to implement his style of football immediately, it really brings into question their understanding of the game.
One only has to look at their opponents Manchester City to take inspiration from. Guardiola's first season was anything but a smooth ride. However, the club's patience with him and a high-level investment has made the Citizens the dangerous side that they are. Even Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool offer a similar example.
Another important aspect to remember is that Maurizio Sarri's appointment at Chelsea was extremely delayed. The former Napoli coach only took charge of the blues with less than a month for the season to start.
Due to the World Cup, he barely had a pre-season with his star players. Since he has joined the club, the club has only purchased three outfield players. One of whom only arrived a couple of weeks ago. It is fair to say that these are far from the ideal setting to judge a manager who is trying to install a new philosophy in.
How will a managerial sacking help Chelsea?
In football blaming the manager is always the easy route. Both for the club and fans, getting rid of the coach suggests an easy solution and convenient scapegoat. On most occasions, it also gets a reaction from the players and immediate results. However, that only paper overs the crack and with time the real issues will show up again.
While a sacking will help Chelsea in the short run, it is hardly going to make them challenge for the Premier League and Champions League again. If the decisions makers at the club have still not understood the harms of short-termism, it will show that have not learnt from their past mistakes.
Giving him time does not guarantee success. It is quite possible that it does not work out for Sarri at Chelsea even after a year. However, at some time, Chelsea have to take that risk with a coach. At the moment, it is a better option than constant hiring and firing. While the policy worked for the club in the past, one has to admit the squad quality is nowhere near as good at the moment as it was a few years ago.
This is not to say Chelsea should show the same patience Arsenal showed with Arsene Wenger. The pressure of winning trophies should always be there. However, any new coach should know he will have enough time to build a long term project.
Ultimately, Sarri was just not bought to West London to win trophies but to implement his famous "Sarri ball" style in the Premier League. Everyone who watched Napoli over the past couple of years was in awe of their football. If Chelsea want to play that kind of football, they will have to patient. Not just with Sarri but any other manager of a similar philosophy they decide to bring in. Someday Chelsea have to take a leap of faith their manager. At the moment, it is way too early to lose patience with the current one.