Wednesday, March 20

Premier League


Defiant Sarri ignores fan unrest as he perseveres with principles

PA | 27d
The Chelsea boss is committed to his possession-based system.

A defiant Maurizio Sarri has told Chelsea supporters he will not compromise on his footballing principles, despite his precarious position as head coach.

The 60-year-old Italian remains committed to his possession-based 4-3-3 system, with Jorginho as central playmaker, despite an increasingly sceptical fan base voicing their derision and a series of humiliating results.

"The system is a false problem. I want to see football in another way," Sarri said.

Maurizio Sarri's position as Chelsea head coach is under scrutiny over results and performances (Adam Davy/PA)

A 4-0 loss at Bournemouth was followed by a 6-0 defeat to Manchester City which was Chelsea's worst in 28 years and owner Roman Abramovich is not renowned for his patience.

The reaction of the supporters in Monday's FA Cup loss to Manchester United, when home fans joined the visitors' chants of "you're getting sacked in the morning" will have caught the attention of the Chelsea hierarchy.

The Blues face City in Sunday's Carabao Cup final, but first meet Sweden's Malmo on Thursday night in the Europa League last-32 second leg. Sarri's side hold a 2-1 first-leg advantage.

Results against Malmo, City, and – if he survives that long – Tottenham in the Premier League on February 27 could determine Sarri's future.

Asked if he can change the fans' views, Sarri added: "We need to win three, four matches in a row. It's the only solution.

"I can understand very well the frustration of our fans because they are used to winning. Now we are in trouble.

"Of course in this moment it's very difficult to think we're able to win three, four matches in a row.

"As you know very well in football everything can change in one day. I think we need first of all a good performance, a good result and with more confidence, we are able to do anything."

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not renowned for his patience (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sarri says he has not spoken to Abramovich or director Marina Granovskaia this week.

He added: "I have to think that I will be the manager of Chelsea for a long time, otherwise I cannot work.

"I am not sure (if I will be here for a long time), but I have to think this. I have to work and I want to work with a long-range target."

Chelsea's congested fixture calendar makes finding solutions difficult for Sarri, who has introduced training on a matchday this season.

Antonio Rudiger has downplayed the physical impact of Sarri's matchday training sessions (John Walton/PA)

Defender Antonio Rudiger downplayed the physical effects of the additional sessions while admitting to the psychological challenge.

Rudiger said: "It's not like we are doing box to box runs. It's not physical. It's just the tactical things he likes to do.

"It's the same if you sit in the school the whole time listening to someone. Of course, sometimes, it gets mental, but at the end of the day you have to do your job."

Full-back Davide Zappacosta is a doubt with illness, winger Pedro with a stomach problem and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga a hamstring injury which means he could miss out at Wembley, as well as on Thursday.

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