Sunday 25 August 2019

Lifting silverware only long-term solution to appeasing Chelsea fans – Sarri

Chelsea fans chanted for the Italian to be sacked during the weekend win at Cardiff.

Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea host Brighton on Wednesday (Nick Potts/PA)
Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea host Brighton on Wednesday (Nick Potts/PA)

By Ed Elliot, Press Association Sport

Maurizio Sarri believes he can transform Chelsea into Premier League title contenders and admits lifting silverware is the only long-term solution to appeasing disgruntled fans.

The under-fire Blues head coach has endured a difficult first season in English football and was subjected to chants of “we want Sarri out” from unhappy travelling supporters at Cardiff on Sunday.

Sarri’s possession-based style of play – dubbed ‘Sarri-ball’ – has not proved popular at Stamford Bridge but he feels his players are struggling to implement it, rather than there being flaws in his tactics.

He has no intention of ditching the game plan and, given time, is confident he can win around the fanbase and bring success back to the six-time English champions.

“I know only one way (of satisfying supporters) – we have to win matches. We have to try to win a trophy. I know only this way,” he said.

“I think that, in the future, we will be able to fight for the top.

“At the moment, we are not playing our football very well.

“We need to improve playing our way of football. So we are trying to do this, but it’s not easy.

“It’s not easy, especially in the first season because we started to work only in the middle of July. At the beginning of August, we played the first official match.”

Asked if he would alter his approach to games, he replied: “No, because I need to believe in what I do. Otherwise, for me, it’s impossible for me to pass my ideas to the players.”

Sarri’s decision to rest Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante at the weekend and his continued reluctance to hand 18-year-old winger Callum Hudson-Odoi a first top-flight start have contributed to recent supporter unrest.

Hazard and Kante are expected to return for Wednesday’s meeting with Brighton, while England international Hudson-Odoi is likely to be named in the Italian’s starting XI for that game, or Monday’s visit of London rivals West Ham.

Sarri feels Chelsea supporters have become accustomed to an unsustainable level of success since owner Roman Abramovich took control of the club in 2003.

“Probably, in the last seasons, they were used to winning. So probably they thought that it was normal to continue to win,” he said. “But it’s not normal.

“I think that the other teams, in the last seasons, have improved a lot from all points of view.

“So now, the Premier League is really, really very difficult, also for a big club like Chelsea.”

The sixth-placed Blues, who have a two-legged Europa League quarter-final with Slavia Prague this month, are currently a point outside the top four in the battle for Champions League qualification.

Sarri remains optimistic of finishing a challenging campaign on a high.

“We have the chance to take our target. We can arrive at the end of the season in the top four,” he continued.

“We can try to take the final in the Europa League. And so, at the end, our season can become a very good season.”

PA Media

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