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Chelsea haven’t even learned the basics of my football, fumes Sarri

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Don’t call it Sarriball ... because it ain’t!

“SaRrIbAlL”
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Maurizio Sarri continues to reject any notions that Chelsea’s struggles are because of his tactics, as he continues to point fingers precisely where others before him pointed as well: the team’s mentality.

But as Sarri tells it, there’s another good reason why it’s not his football that’s the biggest culprit. Chelsea simply haven’t learned it, still, even after six months, not even the basics. Whatever is or isn’t happening on the pitch isn’t Sarri-ball, so it cannot be Sarri-ball’s fault.

Science!

“We had assumed that we learned a certain style of football, but the truth is we never did learn it and are paying the consequences. [...] We haven’t even learned the most basic moves yet. We need to work on the basics, the primary foundations of my football, and only then will we try to change a few things.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football Italia

Where Sarri’s logic does break down is in his (repeated) claims that he cannot tweak his tactics until the base tactics have been mastered. He is obviously a big believer in his own methods and is ready to die the death of a thousands cuts passes on that “vertical tiki-taka” hill, but if whatever he’s trying to teach is neither producing the results (as it was early in the season) nor is it getting through, then what’s the point?

Something’s got to change and Sarri’s bet on himself is a sure loser, based on prior evidence (players don’t get sacked; coaches do).

“We cannot lose against Bournemouth. I want to respect Bournemouth, I respect very much their coach, but we cannot lose like this here. In this moment I feel frustrated, not under pressure.

“[We] had too many players with their back to the opponents goal. We need more movements without the ball. Otherwise for the striker in this team, it is a very big problem to play.”

-Maurizio Sarri; post-match press conference

Chelsea have failed to score in three consecutive away matches for the first time since 2002 while producing the club’s worst loss in 23 years. This feels like more than just something that can be fixed with a small tweak. There’s lots of work to be done, at multiple levels, and not much time to do it.