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Chelsea not planning to sack Sarri, not planning to back Sarri — report

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Letting it ride

Chelsea Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images

Faced with a decision, whether to back or sack, Chelsea are apparently choosing neither, clarifying nothing, and letting the fates (and Juventus) decide what will happen next with head coach Maurizio Sarri.

The Italian media have convinced themselves that Chelsea have already decided to sack Sarri, but that appears to be not quite correct, at least not yet, even if it remains front page news (Agnelli calling Sarri; etc.).

However, that doesn’t mean the opposite is true either. Chelsea are certainly not backing the coach very strongly, if at all, with briefings, like in the Telegraph from Matt Law yesterday, setting a £5m price tag — when was the last time we heard anything of the sort, an asking price for a Chelsea manager? — and reports like this morning’s from Liam Twomey of ESPN, which claims that Chelsea are “prepared to negotiate a compensation package with any interested club”.

Twomey adds that while Chelsea are not planning on sacking the head coach, that’s in part because we’re certainly not about to bankroll it after paying out at long last Conte’s £9m severance. But Chelsea apparently remain concerned by the toxic relationship between “large” sections of Stamford Bridge and the head coach, fearing that Sarri’s critics “will never accept him”. And while that still sounds far-fetched, it’s been repeated enough that maybe it is a real consideration.

Of course, the club should know by now how fickle fans can be, and if Sarri can actually implement some fun and exciting football — or simply just winning football — the mood would quickly shift. His situation isn’t like Rafa Benítez’s was. There is no irreparable prior history or baggage.

That’s not to say that winning the Europa League would make everything okay, but it would be a good start. ESPN maintains there is “hope at Chelsea that Sarri could yet oversee significant improvement if given a full preseason to implement his tactical system”, so perhaps there’s a happy Sarri-ball ending in our future yet. But Sarri would certainly have to do better than the last 12 months in actually instilling his ideas in his players, especially with a transfer ban in place.

Either way, the ball appears to be in Juve’s and Sarri’s court, which is funny, because just the other day, it was Sarri who was supposedly seeking clarification in this increaing mess. But if Juve pay up (Agnelli apparently wants him), and Sarri wants to go (which he claims publicly that he doesn’t), then it’ll be time for another managerial change. Better warm up those Grandpa Simpson hat gifs.