Tuesday 16 July 2019

'Angry' Sarri is happy to risk berating players over tepid display

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri speaks with his assistant manager Gianfranco Zola during his team’s defeat against Arsenal. Photo: Getty Images
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri speaks with his assistant manager Gianfranco Zola during his team’s defeat against Arsenal. Photo: Getty Images

Miguel Delaney

Maurizio Sarri said he was willing to take the risk of publicly berating his Chelsea players as he thinks they are "sensible" enough to respond in the right way - but insisted they have to change, because he won't.

The Italian stated that he will stay true to his approach despite the recent downturn in form that led to the nadir of a tepid 2-0 defeat away to Arsenal on Saturday.

That display drew a furious response from Sarri, as he repeatedly questioned the mentality and motivation of his players, and spoke in Italian because he was so "extremely angry".

A softer Sarri stated afterwards that he didn't think this was anything more than a slight risk, because the mentality of the current squad would be more open to constructive criticism and it s different to the player-power problems Chelsea have had in the past.

Even if the Italian was mindful of that history, though, he insisted he wouldn't be able to hold back.

"It is my character, though," Sarri said. "I don't think it is risky. These guys have a sensible head on their shoulders, so I don't think I am risking anything.

"I said the players are difficult to motivate, but by the same token there are players who are sensible, who will listen and won't take it the wrong way. There might be a slight risk, but I don't think there is.

"This is my character - I am a straight talker. This is how I speak. Yes, sometimes when you speak in that way it might cause some upset or some conflict, but it doesn't cause any lingering bitterness."

A different example from Chelsea's history was also put to Sarri, if from the same stadium.

A similar outburst from Antonio Conte after a similar two-goal defeat at Arsenal didn't lead to player revolt, but instead to a revolution in results. Sarri's predecessor changed formation and won the league.

Teacher

The current manager got the sentiment, but it was here he insisted he would be making none of the changes that Conte did. He expressed full belief in his way of playing, and specifically teaching.

"I can remember exactly what happened, but with my team I think it is different because with Conte at the time was using a four-man defence and changed to a three-man defence.

"But he was used to doing that anyway, so it wasn't quite the same, whereas this is the football I have. I am a good teacher of this football. I don't think it would be a good idea if I try to teach my players a different type of football.

"There will be some changes perhaps, but there will be no massive upheaval."

While Sarri conceded his squad had lost "points of reference" - namely conspicuous leaders like Cesc Fabregas, to add to names like John Terry over the past few years - he felt some new characters could emerge from this dressing room.

"I think we probably do. I think we might even have someone who is capable of embodying the characteristics I have talked about.

"Of course there is always a danger a leader emerges who is a bad leader, who doesn't necessarily do the kind of things that I want the team to do.

"Nevertheless I do think we need to change the mentality and I do think within the group of players we do have that ability and the characteristics to change.

"When I came here certainly I realised the group had a huge amount of potential. There is no doubt about that.

"I don't think it would be correct for me to talk about being disappointed with what I found when I arrived here.

"When I arrived, of course, I knew the team was coming off the back of a pretty disappointing season. Over the last couple of years they have a lost some really important points of reference for the club. But certainly the team has a lot of potential."

Sarri still allowed the Chelsea players a scheduled day off yesterday despite his initial fury. (© Independent News Service)

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