Maurizio Sarri made accurate and simple comments about Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s game. It was twisted into an “attack” by the Chelsea manager despite its truth.
Written words often do not translate well when spoken and vice versa. One of the more famous cultural instances of this occurs with the book and movie of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In the book, a character very calmly asks a question with big consequences. In the movie, he screams it furiously, completely changing the context of both the question and the answer.
Maurizio Sarri has gotten his own introduction to English culture in a similar circumstance. After the Europa League, he very calmly stated that Ruben Loftus-Cheek needs to improve tactically. That was twisted into a headline stating that he “attacked” poor Loftus-Cheek after he was dropped from the English team.
The tone of the title’s phrasing implies that Sarri was wrong. He was not for several reasons.
First of all is the one least relating to Chelsea. Loftus-Cheek did not earn a call up for the national team this time out. How can a player playing so little have a chance? The answer is that they should not and to add that to the “attack” headline twists the blame on to Sarri for kicking a man while he is down.
But Sarri is right. Just as Antonio Conte was right when he said similar comments. Loftus-Cheek is an excellent player physically. He is an even better player technically. But tactically he has been lacking and that is a major issue given where he is in his career.
To flesh out Sarri’s comments more, the manager was saying he needed to improve tactically on the defensive side. Sarri mentioned a few counter attacks in the Europa League that happened as a result of Loftus-Cheek. The manager did not “attack” Loftus-Cheek” but merely said that Loftus-Cheek needs to improve and that Sarri believes he can with more training.
But that leads into another problem with Loftus-Cheek. The Englishman is a good player, but due to several factors his career has been stunted. He is now 22 years old and is four years removed from his professional debut. He has less professional minutes than Mason Mount who debuted less than half that time ago. Loftus-Cheek’s only true season of full time play came last year. It earned him plaudits and a World Cup call up, but there has been a lot of wasted time for the player.
Has this been the cause of Loftus-Cheek falling behind tactically? After all, that is the hardest thing to train in practice. Tactics generally come mostly from game situations which are best found in games themselves. So it is unsurprising that Loftus-Cheek lags in that department but there will be few ways for him to turn it around.
But to say Sarri “attacked” Loftus-Cheek (and to imply that he did so while the player was dealing with being dropped by the national team) is frankly ridiculous. It is trying to stir up a storm that simply is not there when things are going too well for the Blues. Antonio Conte faced a similar circumstance and it eventually saw him sacked.
If the media wants to be taken seriously, especially from such a strong source, they must avoid click bait and frankly misleading and false headlines. Conte’s career at Chelsea ended under them. Sarri’s must not.