aurizio Sarri takes an interpreter to every media interview he attends but perhaps the Chelsea coach should start using one for his interaction with the players as well.
For it appears something is being lost in translation on a regular basis, as Chelsea’s League form continues to implode.
After each defeat, and there have been five in their last 12 top-flight fixtures, Sarri appears afterwards completely nonplussed and unsure as to what is going wrong.
It was a case of déjà vu at Bournemouth. The doubts over whether he can ‘motivate these players’ was also the rhetoric he used following the defeat by Arsenal 11 days earlier.
There was an intense exchange of views in the dressing room after the 4-0 defeat at the Vitality Stadium — the heaviest of the Roman Abramovich era. The question is, was Sarri doing all the talking or did he listen to the squad as well?
Naturally a coach has to do things his way and not let the players dictate. However, that does not mean you ignore grievances completely, but Sarri has been guilty of just that.
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For example, on more than one occasion, it is believed that Sarri has been told that the squad do not like training on the day of games and yet a session was held on Wednesday morning. The Blues had played three times since Bournemouth, who were not involved in the League Cup or FA Cup, had last kicked a ball.
Surely it is common sense with tiring players who have endured a rigorous schedule and are still involved in all four competitions, that you grasp every opportunity to rest them?
Apparently not, as Sarri is keeping to his routine of holding a session in the morning of evening matches, much to the players’ chagrin.
There is no excuse for the way Chelsea folded so meekly at Bournemouth in the second half but fatigue must have been a factor. Rotation has been in short supply, too. Talented academy graduates Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen are ignored in favour of players who are showing signs of lethargy.
The trio have just two League starts between them this season. Their absence would be more understandable if Chelsea were winning every week but they are not. Just a few days after Chelsea fans were celebrating the club’s refusal to sell Hudson-Odoi to Bayern Munich, Sarri leaves the teenager out of the squad altogether. That is some message to send, as Chelsea try to launch a charm offensive to convince the 18-year-old to agree a contract extension.
The 4-3-3 system is getting mixed results. In fairness, it was just one week ago that Chelsea rose to the occasion and beat a Tottenham side — without three key individuals, mind you — in the League Cup semi-final.
But how much was that down to Sarri’s tactics and how much was it just simply the big-name stars determined to shine on the big occasion? Sarri is right to question the players’ attitude in this instance; they should be able to motivate themselves for each contest, not just when they feel like it.
However, there has to be concern that Sarri is not inspiring the men he works with to deliver regularly.
Sarri expected there to be problems along the way as he tried to inject his philosophy of football on individuals more used to a counter-attacking style under predecessors Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho. But judging by some of Sarri’s post-match comments, it seems like there has been no progress made at all since he took over in July.
He said: “We had assumed that we learned a certain style of football but the truth is we never did learn it and are paying the consequences. We haven’t even learned the most basic moves yet.
“We need to work on the basics, the primary foundations of my football, and only then will we try to change a few things.”
Given Abramovich’s track record, a change of coach cannot be ruled out if things continue to go this awry.
Sarri already has three points fewer than Conte, who was sacked in the summer, had at the same stage last year.
Another victim of Abramovich’s impatience, Luiz Felipe Scolari, had one more point after 24 matches in the 2008-9 campaign than Sarri has now.
Chelsea are such an unpredictable outfit, it is always hard to guess the future accurately. But Sarri certainly cannot afford many more defeats or performances such as this.