People often talk about how Sarri’s struggles this season are analogous to Pep Guardiola’s struggles at Manchester City in his first season, but even if that may not be exactly true, one current Chelsea player who bore first-hand witness to Guardiola’s growing pains in England, is now hoping that Sarri will be afforded similar time and patience.
Ross Barkley, then 7th with Everton, put Manchester City, then in 5th, to the sword on a fine mid-January day in 2017 — Barkley collected two assists as Everton inflicted upon Guardiola the heaviest defeat of his career, 4-0. City, 10 points behind Conte’s Chelsea at the time, had over 70 per cent possession but Everton were clinical where it mattered.
Guardiola was gleefully criticized, even written off, at the time, but Manchester City doubled down on him and the rest, as they say, is history. That doesn’t mean that doubling down on Sarri would guarantee similar success for Chelsea, but Barkley sure wouldn’t mind if Sarri were to stick around a bit longer.
“We’re learning every day. We are all top-class players and we all want to learn more. If you compare Pep Guardiola’s first season, they went through a bit of an up-and-down spell. When I was at Everton, we beat them 4-0.
“We have got ambition to be one of the best footballing sides in the world. We’re one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“The style of play the manager wants is not where it is at now. Over time it will come. Bad days don’t always stay. Good times are ahead. We are doing it every day in training. I am sure, with time, you will see how good it will be.”
Barkley may be fairly young, having just recently turned 25, but he’s been around the top levels of the English game for a long time, so he knows that patience is in short supply and losing isn’t tolerated at Chelsea for too long — that winning habit was a big reason he himself decided to switch out of his comfort zone at Everton to come to Chelsea in the first place. But he firmly believes that Sarri (whose style he compares to Roberto Martinez’s, for better or worse) is the man to help rebuild the team into one of Europe’s best once again, able to deal with the pressures and expectations that come with that designation.
“Over the years – me not being at the club – you see managers come, managers go. It’s all about success, winning trophies. That’s why I came to the club. If things aren’t going well there’s always going to be pressure that comes with it.”
-Ross Barkley; source: Mail
Barkley will surely feature today against Manchester City, either from the start or as a substitute (likely for Mateo Kovačić), so he can have a direct hand in saving his head coach’s job and set Chelsea truly on the way to Sarri-ball glory ... or some such.