The 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Bournemouth might be the lowest point of Sarri's tenure at Chelsea. The veteran Italian manager is not doing himself any favors by repeatedly stating in his post-match press conferences that he is dealing with a squad he cannot motivate. When the going gets tough, maybe having your players back is your best option. Throwing this particular group under the bus does not end well. Just ask Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
Roman Abramovich's ownership of Chelsea is characterized in two ways for managers. Results or the door. He has a 'use and throw' philosophy with the people he hires to coach this team. Most permanent appointees in recent memory are given a couple of seasons before they receive a pink slip. Though, it is not unprecedented for a Chelsea manager to be dismissed before they can even complete a full season at Stamford Bridge. Luiz Felipe Scolari lasted 36 games. Andre Villas-Boas was fired in March of 2012 after only taking the reins nine months prior. His successor - Roberto Di Matteo was sacked less than six months after guiding Chelsea to winning their first (and only) Champions League title.
Rebuild on the fly while they are expected to win silverware at the same time. The above has been the mandate for each incoming manager for over the past 15 years. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Nobody could have predicted a January that would be this dire for Chelsea. A resounding second-leg win against city rivals Tottenham to take them to a League Cup Final along with their advancing to the 5th round of the FA cup do not cover their faults in the league. After Matchweek 5 Chelsea was on the top of the table - though this was never going to be sustainable. They hovered among the top 4 for the next two months before settling for the last Champions League spot after a 2-1 defeat against Wolverhampton. The gap between them and Arsenal and Manchester United gave them a cushion should things go array. After back-to-back league defeats, Arsenal has leapfrogged Chelsea with Manchester United right at their heals after going undefeated seven league games.
Sarri publicly threw his players under the bus after their 2-0 loss against Arsenal citing that they were 'extremely difficult to motivate'. The same occurred eleven days late when to their loss at the hands of Bournemouth. This is not a team but rather a group of individual players who have their own agendas when they step onto the football pitch. Sarri went on to say that he may not be the man for the job. This public acceptance of his shortcomings may be interpreted as short-sighted, or frank, or naive, or it may be a brave move. But at the end of the say, it has sent one message to his higher-ups. Sarri gave them a reason for why he is expendable.
This might just be the end of Sarri in London. Anytime a head coach/manager is this candid and brazen with the media, it is because he has resigned to the fact that his end is Nye. This is especially the case for Sarri given that Chelsea is in serious danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the second straight year.
Their first league defeat at Wembley against Tottenham on the 24th of November. This ended a streak of 18 games where Chelsea went undefeated to start to the season. Optimism still filled the club and Sarri given that his patented style of football was starting to translate with no teething issues whatsoever. In their 18 games since Chelsea have lost five times including back-to-back league defeats where they conceded 6 and failed to score away from home.
The Sarri faithful will have his back citing the fact that he started the job from behind the 8-ball through no fault of his own. The ugly divorce with Sarri's predecessor - Antonio Conte - meant he joined the club in the middle of the preseason. Not only did he not have the time to fully implement his philosophy, but he was also not able to fully evaluate the squad he inherited.
During his spell at Napoli, he had the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Dries Mertens leading this attacking front. Both Higuain and Mertens had career seasons under Sarri. When the veteran Italian manager arrived at Chelsea, he was devoid of a reliable goalscorer. Alvaro Morata (who now has been loaned out to Atletico Madrid) appeared to be afraid of his own shadow in his tumultuous 18 months with Chelsea. Olivier Giroud is a solid complementary striker but has never been the kind to lead the frontline. In past seasons, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, and Diego Costa were among the league leaders in goal scored. Eden Hazard - who has been their best player in recent seasons - was expected to take the leap to the next level. The growing speculation of an impending exit has overshadowed that he is trending towards having a career season in England.
The Chelsea Board did bring in Jorginho, the lynchpin of Sarri Ball, and were able to outbid Manchester City for his services. Courtois forced his way to Madrid and Chelsea broke the bank to sign a young stalwart in Kepa who has tremendous upside. Higuain has been reunited with Sarri on a loan deal (with an option to buy at the end of the season). The 31-year-old striker is expected to jumpstart a position that Chelsea have struggled to get the most out of since Diego Costa.
Other than his ability to motivate players, his few months at Stamford Bridge have highlighted one thing: this man has no Plan B. His failure to adapt and make in-game changes is exemplified by the fact that he has signed two of the players that have had the greatest performances in his system. Both were pivotal to his 4-3-3 formation and were the embodiment of Sarri-ball with Jorginho running the show from the middle and Higuain poaching in the box.
Their signings indicate that Sarri has doubled down on the style of football that he wants Chelsea to play. It may have got him the job in the first place, but it may also be the end of Sarri. Time and again managers at Chelsea have been stubborn in their ways and failed to improvise when their Plan A did not work. Scolari and Villas-Boas are just like Sarri in that they too were unyielding. And like them, it is entirely possible that by upholding his beliefs, Sarri could find himself without a job before the summer can even arrive.
To be fair to Roman Abramovich, he has been more patient with his last two permanent appointees in Mourinho and Conte. Both were given longer leashes than expected but were ultimately sacked the second it became impossible for them to qualify for Champions League.
Conte did show - in his first season in England - that he was capable of change. He implemented a system that was familiar to the Chelsea players when he first arrived. After winning his opening three league games, Chelsea followed it by losing three on the trot. Conte took care of the fire in his house and changed his team's formation by going to three in the back - something he had plenty of experience with Juventus and the Italian National Team. The Blues won 12 straight and were crowned as champions at the end of the season.
If Sarri can learn anything from his predecessor, it is that change can be the catalyst for great results. But the standard on him is the same as every manager under Abramovich's reign. Immediate results. At this point in time, he has not shown enough to suggest that he is capable of change. He is making the same mistakes as those who preceded him. Publicly throwing these group of players under the bus does that affect them at all. All it results in a string of bad results and failure to qualify for Europe's most elite competition. This should be a familiar set of ingredients for the Chelsea faithful. The end product is a new manager. Sarri should take a second and learn from the mistakes made by his forebears. Change or be fired. It just is the Chelsea way.