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Maybe it’s not always sunny in Chelsea training under Sarri...

Conflicting reports about possible discord at Cobham

Chelsea FC Training Session Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images

If Chelsea were ever in need of an epitaph etched into stone, we probably wouldn’t have to look too far beyond “palpable discord”. Since Michael Emenalo uttered those words in December 2015, we’ve been able to apply them proactively and retroactively, as needed, at just about all levels of the club.

The latest possible application site is Cobham, where conflicting reports about Chelsea players’ happiness are emerging.

Following Sarri’s calculated, Mourinho-esque diatribe on Saturday, after a rather embarrassing performance from the team against Arsenal, some reports, such as this one from the Independent’s Miguel Delaney — who was always on the forefront of reporting about the acceptability of Conte’s training sessions — doubled down on the idea of Chelsea players loving the coach, his tactics, and his training methods. These matched not only words from the likes of David Luiz (and, in a way, subsequent words from Sarri himself), but also reports from earlier in the season that praised Sarri for relaxing some of Conte’s more draconian principles (like ... SHOCK AND HORROR ... NO brown sauce in the cafeteria, or starting training sessions at more sensible times, etc.).

But other reports paint a less harmonious picture, more in line with the assumed strife and — here it comes — growing palpable discord that usually follows a Chelsea coach unloading on his players. Simon Johnson’s report even contains an ominous line about an an unidentified player taking his grievances (by way of a “representative”) to director Marina Granovskaia in a move that sure doesn’t sound too dissimilar from the end days of previous idealistic coaches like Luiz Felipe Scolari and André Villas-Boas.

Johnson’s sources are also claiming that the players find Sarri’s training just as “monotonous” as many are finding the team’s passing during games, that training sessions (however intense or not) on the mornings of matchdays with late kick-offs are “unpopular”, and that some questions are being raised about his tendency to split his squad in training into functional groups (defenders, midfielders, attackers, etc.) and even more are being raised when he splits them alongside first-choice/second-choice lines to match his rigid rotational policy. The report twice mentions at least one player “joking” that Sarri “may not even know his name”.

It all sounds rather dramatic, though Johnson muses that such reports are common when results go against teams. We saw that pattern play out with Conte quite drastically, with players loving the training sessions the first year, then hating them (reportedly) the second year. No consistency here either!

In any case, one suspects that the outcome of the current situation will be dictated by results on the pitch once again, unless there is a major unexpected paradigm shift on the horizon.

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