Maurizio Sarri may or may not be close to his end as Chelsea head coach — some reports this week have claimed that he will be sacked if Chelsea lose on Sunday, some have claimed he will be sacked if Chelsea lose on Wednesday, but almost all of them expect him to go soon — but he’s certainly not showing any outwards signs of feeling that media and narrative pressure.
He does however know that at the end of the day, the business of football management relies on results. Tactical ideologies and the like are great in theory, but will always be secondary, especially at a top team.
“I think that, in the end, the most important things are the results. Without results, everything good to criticise us. In my job, I need the result. Nothing else.”
That doesn’t mean that Sarri’s going to scrap the style of football he’s been preaching for two decades of course. His unshakable belief in his own methods has gotten him this far, after all. He might die on the hill, figuratively, but at least he’ll be staying true to himself.
“I am used to arriving at a new team from below. I started at a very low level and, season by season, I arrived here. Of course, in every season, I was the coach who arrived from below. So for me it’s normal. I’m used to this situation.”
That said, Sarri is changing things a little bit this weekend, revealed in his post-pre-match interview (held immediately after Thursday’s match and press conference instead of its usual time) that the Blues will head into the match with a minimum of match preparation (60 minutes) in an effort to keep things as stress-free as possible.
“In [the Malmo] match, for 30 minutes, I saw a team very worried. Without confidence. So I don’t want to press them tomorrow [already]. I want their minds really very free. We will prepare the match only on Saturday, I think. [So] we will prepare the match in 60 minutes, no more.”
That sounds like a bold and risky approach, but this will be the third time we play Manchester City this season (and fourth if we also include the Community Shield), with Chelsea winning 2-0 at home in the league and then of course losing 6-0 the other day. We should know what to expect from City at this point, surely. The key will be in how we react to it.
“The truth [of how good we are] is in the middle. It’s not true, the 2-0 two months ago, or the 6-0 two weeks ago. For us, it’s really very important for us to stay in the match for a very long time. And that will give us our best chance.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Goal
Chelsea scored at the very best times in the 2-0 win (just before half-time and then inside the final quarter of an hour), but conceded at terrible times (and off terrible mistakes) in the 6-0. Goals always change games, alter narratives, and set future events in motion. If Chelsea can indeed hang with the opposition and keep the game close, anything could happen.
What awaits Sarri and Chelsea this weekend? We won’t have much longer to find out, but it’s likely to be dramatic either way.