“Maurizio Sarri may well be in his debut season as Chelsea manager, but it’s impossible to rule out the possibility of it being his last. Roman Abramovich is renown for his cut-throat tendencies when it comes to sacking managers. If he feels that a change is needed, he won’t hesitate, he will spring into action and swing the axe.
“Sarri is some way off suffering the same fate as many of his predecessors, but if his tactical stubbornness doesn’t subside, his head may well be next on the chopping block. Here’s three reasons why Sarri could face the sack within the first year of his appointment, and some advice on how he can prolong his stay at Stamford Bridge.”
Playing key players out of positions
“In Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante, Sarri has two of the best players on the planet. Yet, he has felt it appropriate to field them both out of position. Kante has been planted in a more advanced role this season.
“With Leicester City, Chelsea and France he excelled while holding the midfield – why would Sarri disrupt the equilibrium? Hazard has also been enjoying the most productive season of his Chelsea career to date out on his beloved left-wing. In recent matches, however, Sarri has used him as a false 9.
“Hazard is most effective when he is able to isolate his opposing full-back 1-on-1 out-wide. As shown during our defeat to Leicester, this new role leaves him isolated. He’s not Dries Mertens, Sarri needs to stop pretending that he is. We understand that Kante in particular is not the breed of footballer that Sarri wants to distribute from the heart of his midfield, but he’s good enough a player for the Italian to tinker with his system.
“It feels as though many of our recent troubles stem from Sarri’s reluctance to make tactical alterations. He is subsequently wasting what are supposed to be the prime years of Kante’s career. As for Hazard, we fear where we’d be without him this season, so Maurizio ought to be doing everything he can to get the best out of him and satisfy his desires.”
Keep giving chances to players, who haven’t been delivering
“There are certain players being included in Sarri’s starting eleven, week-in, week-out, who don’t deserve to be given such a degree of faith by the manager.
“Willian and Marcos Alonso are the two which spring to mind. Both have been mainstays in the Chelsea side over the past few of seasons, and that’s the only reason we can think of that Sarri is continuing to select them. Both have been utterly dreadful in recent weeks, and Sarri continues to field them. They won’t learn their lesson and find motivation to improve unless their starting spots become under threat.
“Not only does it send a negative message to the players themselves if they can put in substandard performances and continue to start, but it’s also an insult to both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Emerson Palmieri. The pair have impressed at every opportunity this term, but it hasn’t been enough to prevent Sarri from overlooking them. How he can expect the results to change if the personnel remains unchanged is beyond our understanding.”
Respond to losses instead of expressing his bemusement over their reasons
“Chelsea keep imploding midway through games which we were dominating throughout the opening stages. It’s a bemusement to us, but we don’t get paid the big-bucks, Sarri does, and he has no idea what’s going wrong either: ‘I really don’t know what happened’ (post-Wolves comment after a 2-1 loss); ‘I don’t know why these reactions happen’ (reaction to a 1-0 defeat vs Leicester).
“It’s Sarri’s responsibility to understand why his players are deviating from his plans and to solve the problems which exist within the team. Publicly revealing that he hasn’t got a Scooby-Doo what’s happening isn’t going to do him any favours. Us fans have a great deal of faith in Sarri, but that won’t last if this post-match puzzlement continues throughout the course of the season. He is supposed to be the man to give Chelsea a reboot, but how can he if he doesn’t know the root of the problems?”
“The Chelsea board will not be satisfied with another fifth-place finish, nor will the fans. If we are unable to find some consistency, that’s what we’re headed towards, and it could cut Sarri’s time as Chelsea manager short. It took Pep Guardiola a season to turn Manchester City into arguably the greatest team the Premier League has ever seen, but the City faithful were given glimpses of what they could become throughout his first season at the Etihad. That’s what we’re waiting for under Sarri.”