The calendar has turned over to March and while spring doesn’t official begin for a couple more weeks, the latest winter of our discontent is hopefully now over.
From the end of November to the end of February, from Spurs away to Spurs at home, inclusive, Chelsea had won just 15 games in all competitions, drawing twice and losing nine (or drawing three and losing eight depending on how you count the League Cup final). The situation was even worse in the league (a record of 8-1-6 — 63-point pace, 7 fewer than last season’s tally of 70). To make matters worse, the football on display was even worse, and some of those losses were absolutely horrendous, shocking, and downright embarrassing (4-0, 6-0, 2-0 at home, etc.).
But Chelsea may have finally reached a turning point. Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Spurs can be the game to set the tone for the rest of the season.
“It’s an important victory [against Spurs]. We had a difficult month, but also an extremely tough fixture list. We’ve been getting back on track for the last two or three games, rediscovered the defensive solidity we’d been missing and that is a big step forward.”
February was indeed a tough one, though Chelsea had passed up plenty of winnable games earlier in the winter, losing at home to Leicester City, away to Bournemouth and Wolves, and so on. Similar poor runs had spelled the end of many a Chelsea coach over the past decade and a half (either immediately or at the end of the season), but Sarri isn’t worried about that. And that’s not just a basic expected notion (i.e. focus on the things you can control), he’s apparently been told by the club that he’s safe (though would they really tell him otherwise?).
“It takes a lot more than [sack rumors] to stop me sleeping. This afternoon I napped for two hours. I sleep because I am relaxed, I do all that I can, and I cannot do what I cannot do. I am relaxed because I talk to the club and what you write isn’t true – or at least they tell me it’s not true.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football Italia
He may be safe for now, but those rumors will be back in force however if Chelsea fail to beat relegation-bound Fulham this Sunday. The Cottagers just appointed a new head coach (Claudio Ranieri out after just 17 games, replaced by a former player of his at Chelsea, Scott Parker) and a new coach bounce against local rivals is always a narrative that’s ripe for picking.
No time to relax.