In defence of Maurizio Sarri

I really don’t think that Maurizio Sarri has had a bad first season in charge at Chelsea. For someone who had never managed outside Italy before and was given four pre-season games to try and introduce the players to a new system of football, to be in the semi finals of the Europa League and challenging for a top four finish, that’s not bad. That’s about what Jurgen Klopp managed in his first full season in charge at Liverpool and they are now matching the heavyweights of the division, Manchester City, step for step. And Klopp had been in charge since the previous October.

I think the problem is that Chelsea fans have become accustomed to finishing in the Champions League places almost every season. Add to that the fact that they have usually won at least one trophy a season as well. Last season is a good example. Chelsea still won the FA Cup despite finishing in 5th, outside the Champions League places for the second time in three seasons. Since Roman Abromovich bought the club in 2003, Cheldea have won five Premier League titles, a Champions League, a Europa League, five FA Cups and three League Cups. That’s a lot of competition wins in a relatively short amount of time Considering that Liverpool hadn’t won a league title for 15 years when we won the first of our Premier League titles in 2005. And so, with such success with multiple managers, the pressures of the Chelsea managerial job must be immense, especially for a manager hired for his style of football and not what he has won. And Maurizio Sarri has not won a single major competition in his career.

Therefore, I think it is only fair that Sarri is given ample time and money to get his system across to the players and shape the squad to his liking. He has largely inherited last season’s squad and hasn’t really made any major changes to it. The only players Sarri has brought in is Jorginho in the midfield Gonzalo Higuain up front. I leave Kepa Arrizabalaga out, because the club were always going to sign a goalkeeper with Thibaut Courtois leaving. Mateo Kovacic was always just a makeweight in the Courtois deal and he hasn’t done enough to convince me that the club should be spending £30-40 million pounds on him in the summer. A lot more needs to be done to get the squad in the best place to be able to play in the way that Sarri likes his teams to play. The players he has at his disposal are possibly not best suited to the system he wants to implement. And he is clearly not going to change that system. He will set his team up that way whether he has the best players for the job or not. And to give Sarri credit, the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been given far game time than previous managers would have given them and have repaid that faith and become important members of the first team squad.

If we are in the same position at around the same time next season, then I would start to think perhaps Sarri isn’t the right man for the job. But, nothing he has done this season warrants Chelsea fans chanting ‘F*ck Sarriball.’ During the 90 minutes of the game, you support the team. Save that sort of negativity for before or after. I have no problems with Chelsea fans not agreeing with a manager’s methods or footballing ethos. But, to shout abuse at our own manager during a game is distasteful and rather idiotic. And booing a player coming on as a substitute before he’s even kicked a ball is absolutely disgraceful. How would that make you feel to walk into your place of work and absolutely everyone in the building booed at you before you even entered the door? Have some respect.

And we were complaining last season about how often Chelsea gave the ball away, how defensively we played, how there was no ambition to what we were doing. Now I hear people complaining that the play just goes side and back and side and back. That we have no cutting edge, that the play’s too slow. I do believe that as a football fan, you will never be entirely happy. There are always things that could go better. And some of the performances have not been acceptable. But, in this Chelsea era of hiring and firing managers like the changing of the seasons, it might finally be time to give a manager the resources to try and build a more lasting recipe for success.


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