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The greatest mind of the 20th century once said ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. I wouldn’t to as far as accusing Sarri of being insane, but he is certainly delusional. The worst thing for me about this thrashing is that I was expecting it.
I told my Man Utd-supporting mate that as long as Sarri sends a team out against City and tells them to play whatever he dubs ‘Sarriball’, we would get embarrassed. Sarri is so stubborn that I’m beginning to get irritated every time I see his face in the dugout. We are now the most predictable team in the league. Predictable starting eleven (and substitutions, even timing of the subs) everybody can see our weaknesses except the manager.
Why can’t he adapt his tactics against teams such as City, why can’t he switch things up a bit, change our bloody starting eleven (that cannot be Chelsea’s best team).
Jorginho is the most useless player I’ve seen in a long time – can’t run, can’t defend, yet he’s taking up Kante position in the team (the best DM in the world). Alonso has been shite this season, yet keeps his place, Loftus-Cheek can’t seem to start a game. Luiz.. What is wrong with Sarri? Saying he doesn’t know why his football is not working, I dunno, maybe cos you’ve been found out, maybe cos you’re predictable as f**k…I always feel the players are caught in two minds, its almost as if they know it’s not working out, yet they have to do as they’re told by the coach. I’m just tired of this whole mess, bring back !y old Chelsea. Sarri has to go!
Weng (an angry Nigerian), Abuja
…I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. I’ll try to avoid hyperbole as best I can after a record league defeat, but I genuinely expected Sarri to be better. In every big game in which Chelsea have been overrun in in the opening exchanges, commentators have pointed to Antonio Conte’s seminal moment when trailing 3-0 at Arsenal, where he used the second half to debut his signature 3-4-3 formation that triggered a record-equalling 13-game winning streak. While this comparison is fair and obvious, it isn’t 100% accurate to the situation Sarri currently finds himself in. Conte arrived at Chelsea having conquered Italian football with Juventus in a similar 3-4-3 formation. It was actually somewhat of a surprise that he shelved that formation at the start of his first season with Chelsea, likening himself to a tailor that had to modify his fit for the team he inherited. When results started downtrending, he had his tried-and-trusted Plan B ready to turn to. Sarri does not have that luxury. In big away games he keeps sending his team into a storm wearing nothing but a trendy waistcoat.
Sarrisimo is fashion over function and Sarri’s public exasperation with his players betrays that he has no other ideas. His frustration was exemplified by his refusal to shake Guardiola’s hand at full time yesterday. Guardiola was so many of us in that moment, both surprised and let down by the limitations of a manager he had openly admired and would have expected much more of.
Instead of Conte, I can’t help but see parallels between our current predicament and Andre Villas-Boas’ ill-fated 2011/12 reign. Prior to Sarri, Villas-Boas was the club’s last big attempt at a ‘project manager’, hired with a long-term vision and devotion to playing style over instant silverware. His refusal to meet his playing squad halfway on his tactical approach led to a high defensive line that persistently left Chelsea’s ageing defence exposed. This stubbornness of tactics and personality created an irreparable rift between manager and dressing room. Whenever I tell myself to keep faith in the Sarri project, I imagine where we would be had we stuck with Villas-Boas for the length of his contract (certainly with no Champions League trophy, and therefore no Eden Hazard arriving the following summer).
Chelsea have been here before, and I honestly couldn’t blame Abramovich for seeing the same red flags and abandoning the experiment yet again. The financial stakes of missing out on Champions League football are higher than ever, and he need only look longfully at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United overtaking Chelsea from a seemingly down-and-out position two months ago and wonder whether Gianfranco Zola mightn’t be capable of overseeing a similar reversal of fortune. That trick worked out alright for Chelsea the last time, too…
P.S. On an entirely unrelated note (unless I were to tenuously stretch the clothing metaphor), does anyone else find it hard to enjoy Chelsea vs Man City matches fully due to the fact that both sides wear blue? I know that royal blue and sky blue are easily distinguishable, but the away side’s repeated refusal to just wear their second choice kit just irritates me to an unreasonable extent.
Jeff, Some Place Far Away
…Ok so that has to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. No – not the 6-0 humiliation, but the fact that Jamie Carragher has mentioned that Sarri has turned Chelsea into Arsenal. Mentally weak, unable to be motivated. Capable of a 4-0 defeat, then a 5-0 home win and then a 6-0 thunderbas**rd of a defeat is something I don’t think even Arsene Wenger managed during the whole ‘peak Arsenal’ phase.
Sixth in the league now – with Man United not only ahead but looking streets ahead confidence and form wise. Goal difference destroyed in ten days (despite a 5-0 win!) this season is threatening to be a complete disaster and imploding over the next couple of weeks – if it hasn’t already.
The biggest criticism of Sarri is not that he can’t motivate these players but that there is never any deviation from his philosophy. Ever. Same team plays every week give or take one like for like change and the subs are always the same. Barkley on for Kovacic (or vice Versa). Giroud on around 83rd min. Repeat ad nauseum.
How do you follow the biggest Premier League defeat in 24 years? How about the biggest one for 28 years. Sarri smashing records every week.
What will annoy me is all the pundits who will constantly say it’s crazy to sack a manager. That Chelsea are too gung ho with firing managers – despite that decision generally being the right one. Does anyone really think Sarri will turn this around and be challenging next season? If not, then why go through the motions and wait until we inevitably lose the League Cup final, probably lose against United in the cup, possibly squeeze by Malmo in the Europa but ultimately seal our fate of another Europa League campaign by being crap in the league – and not make a change now? Seriously. We have had some awful managers over the years but Sarri is absolutely the worst fit. Watching us have 65% possession an not have a shot on target and lose 2-0 is bad enough but this is just not acceptable. End it now whilst we have a chance of salvaging something.
Stephen B – currently exiled in Detroit
Drop Jorginho and other changes
Man I knew Chelsea were going through a bad run, but to lose their last three away games 2-0, 4-0 and 6-0 to Arsenal, Bournemouth and City respectively simply isn’t even close to good enough and embarrassing. There clearly seems to be some form of miscommunication and agreement to the tactics Sarri is setting out to his players, and not quite sure what players like Pedro, Alonso and especially Jorginho offer to the team.
Come on Sarri, I know you want the majority of the Chelsea moves to come from Jorginho in midfield, but you cannot be biased to the point that the rest of the team is suffering. His physicality is poor in terms of pace and strength and he can’t tackle for shit. I realise that his passing and intelligence on the ball is how he wants to play, but he isn’t Andrea Pirlo! If anything Fabregas is just as good as Jorginho from what I can see, just a slightly older version. Teams are starting to see how the football works Sarri plays work and once the midfield of strikers instantly close down Jorginho, intercepting the ball in midfield, there is no cover for the defence and teams destroying that defence with ease, thus why they have let in 12 goals in their last three away games in the league! You got to feel bad for David Luiz and Rudiger, as it isn’t entirely their fault.
A stubborn and naive mindset is a very dangerous tool to have at your disposal and Sarri must admit to his staff, not the players, that he is making lots of mistakes with some of his lineup selections and must come up with a Plan B or C from the start of the match instead of playing the same team over and over again and hoping for some individuals to get the team ticking. For example, in certain kind of games where the team is constantly pressing the defence, drop Jorginho, start Kante and Kovacic at CDM and start Loftus-Cheek at CAM, so they have SOME form of creativity in there. Jorginho is overrated and has a lot of work to do in improving, Chelsea need to start making some good signings from now on!
…Nice point in 16 Conclusions about the glass jaws in several Chelsea players. Sarri is starting to sound and act like a defeated man but his first eleven has players with obvious, exploitable weaknesses and they need to be replaced or given proper competition. Pep did it with his full backs, keeper and club captain. Sarri needs to realize this or quit because a despondent leader never helped anyone.
The squad is good enough for the top four so the manager needs to accept that Sarri-ball won’t work this season with these players and just find a way to get wins from now on. It’s crunch time.
Lawrence, CFC, Abuja
…Holy sh*t that was awful. Three times I told myself that it was okay, there was still time to make a difference. After the fourth, I just couldn’t do it anymore, let alone after the fifth and sixth. I instead resigned myself to hoping for a consolation, preferably a Higuain overhead kick, which unfortunately never came.
A humiliating defeat it was, and congratulations to City, they were absolutely fantastic. Their pressing is relentless, their short range and long range passing are quick and accurate, their shots on the day were all goals. And Aguero. My god, Aguero. I remember when Chelsea were in with a shout for him before he signed for City. How things could have been. Probably badly, knowing Chelsea’s luck with strikers.
There are definitely things that need sorting out at Chelsea. Once things go badly, they go terribly. There doesn’t seem to be anyone to lift players up and get them playing to keep it at 3-0 instead of 6-0, too many heads go down. David Luiz was again guilty of ball watching and ignoring danger behind him, Kepa continues his trick of getting hands to the ball but not sufficiently blocking its path, and Jorginho is a waste of space. Since teams have worked out all they have to do is pressure him, he has been awful. And his shooting is terrible. But what p***ed me off was a misplaced pass, a one touch pass which put the ball back into the danger area for city, and his reaction was ‘meh’. No visible sign of ‘oh shit’ and trying to get back to cut the danger out. Just f**k it, we’re losing anyway. I can take losing, I just can’t stand these millionaires not trying.
Anyway, it was a bad day at the office, yet another one, but Chelsea still have to play Spurs in the league and then City in the final. Who knows what Chelsea will turn up for those games. Anyone can lose to City, so I’ll bite my lip and hope that things seem better in a couple of weeks. I don’t think they will though…
…Humiliated by a superior City side, humiliated by Bournemouth, outplayed by both Arsenal and Spurs, Utd and City up next and I wouldn’t be surprised if we are humiliated again, the frustrating thing about Sarri is if Plan A doesn’t work we keep trying Plan A, in the Premier League you have to have a plan B and adapt your tactics, this could get much worse before it gets better.
Mikey, CFC (we weren’t the biggest defeat of the weekend, Nacional lost 10-0 to Benfica)
Trying to take the Chelsea positives
As a Chelsea fan from before Roman Abramovich’s involvement with the club, at times the game on Sunday did feel very much like a regression to how we used to be. Wildly inconsistent, one or two great players, but a team that was not quite at the elite level.
I’m sure you’ll get a lot of emails about how great city were and how poor Chelsea were, but instead I wanted to try and take a positive out of the game from the Chelsea point of view.
This game offers the club a real opportunity to show that we’ve moved on from the days of short termism and, actually, we’re really going to invest time, resources and patience in shifting the philosophy of the club. Man City showed us a blue print as to how highly effective, possession-based football can be played and how a squad and philosophy takes time to be built and developed. Klopp has also showed how a squad and style of play can be improved and built over time into a mature, highly effective attacking team. It is a similar point for Pochettino.
The Chelsea board have two options :
1. Fire Sarri and accept that the experiment in shifting the philosophy of the type of football the club plays has failed for now. Get in a short-term fix (e.g. Hiddink or even someone like a Solskjaer) and get the focus on the team playing well. It is a hard reset on the whole club again. I’ve no idea who the club would get in, either immediately or in the summer, but it would be very much back to square one.
2. Back Sarri and state that this season and even next is largely irrelevant. In fact, trophy successes are totally irrelevant in the short term on the basis that the focus is on the club working towards a larger goal. That goal could be either the shifting of the playing style or it could be the development and integration of youth players. Ideally it would be both and we bring through and develop players like Ruben Loftus Cheek, Kepa, Hudson Odoi and others without a focus on the short term. The process for the team is a longer term one and if we get that right, success will follow.
In short, the former would be is the “same old Chelsea” where the ends justify the means. and the latter would be a true shift in thinking, where the club focus on getting the process right as a way of achieving the outcomes we want.
It really is a unique opportunity for a club like Chelsea – we’ve lurched from short-term success to short-term success and it has worked quite well for us. However, when you look at just how coherent the strategy at Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs is, it is no wonder the team look like less than the sum of their parts when compared to them.
This defeat is a positive as it shows the club what can be achieved by a coherent, long-term strategy, with the manager being given the backing – philosophically and financially – and a club working towards a legacy, rather than a one off success.
I’m optimistic that the club is not run by stupid people and they’ll recognise the need to think long term and not react in the way that everyone seems to expect.
Sorry about Sergio
As a Manchester City fan, I would like to make a heartfelt apology.
To me, Sergio Aguero’s trademark s***-eating grin, continually reprised at the end of matches he has made a decisive contribution to, is a thing of longing beauty. I never, ever tire of seeing it.
But if I supported any other club, this utterly placid man would be considering otherwise unthinkable actions when viewing this. At the very least, bricks would be interfacing with television screens . When combined as it was yesterday with joking around with Mike Bloody Dean, I think Sky Sports should have considered whether a trigger warning was necessary.
In the Burnley Cup game, he came on as a substitute with City already 4-nil up and almost immediately we won a penalty. Aguero proceeded to sprint to the penalty spot and stand on it to prevent the microscopic chance of one of his team-mates suggesting they might take the kick. Kun then despatched what must be the cheapest and most meaningless of his 222 (and counting) City goals. He may no longer be a goal-hanger (Pep won’t allow that) but he is still a greedy bastard.
This Man City team, though…
Any team finishing even close to this city team (who will finish first) has not bottled anything, even if they were 15 points clear.
This team, this squad, is a behemoth.
They are relentless
…City are definitely wobbling.
Pablo the Red, London
A Man City fan writes…
Manchester City are the first top-flight team since Tottenham Hotspur in December 1965 to score more than once in 15 consecutive home league matches. Ruthless. (OptaJoe)
Whilst now 10 goals in front of Liverpool, City’s GD is now +8 goals more than third place Spurs and fourth place Utd combined. And 21 more than Arsenal and Chelsea combined.
1. City’s all-time highest scorer. 160 goals in 229 PL appearances. (Sky Sports)
2. Now level with Alan Shearer on 11 Premier League hat-tricks. (MCFC)
3. 5 – Sergio Aguero has become the fifth player to score hat-tricks in consecutive home Premier League games and the first since Didier Drogba in August 2010. (OptaJoe)
Pep probably wouldn’t agree but I think the rest of us would forgive him for missing the odd three-yard sitter. And to think that, had we bought him, the pecking order would almost certainly have been Jesus then Sanchez then Aguero. I don’t care whether it was Woodward Mourinho or both but, thanks to United, that was a humongous bullet dodged by City (on so many levels).
But the most pleasing thing about that match wasn’t the scoreline. It was the absence of some of the sloppiness and apparent lack of focus we’ve shown in recent games. Passes going missing, runs not being made, that kind of thing. Which was my main concern before the game and the reason why I thought this was would be a hard-fought draw (which is also why I never bet). Instead, this was the City on fire from last season and we made a top -six team look ordinary. Something, incidentally, that I’m damned sure Chelsea won’t allow us to repeat in the League Cup final.
Can’t wait for the Andy Jacobs meltdown rant Monday afternoon.
Mark (City AND England dishing out spankings. Bloody Marvellous) MCFC
And what of Spurs?
Having watched the Spurs v Leicester game I thought I’d try some conclusions. I don’t know how you get 16, I struggled with five and one isn’t about the game
1) If Leicester could shoot, they probably would have won.
2) It is probably not the best idea to come off the bench to take a penalty. It is probably a small sample but I bet there are more missed than scored.
3) If you foul someone, the way to get away with it is to immediately blame the fouled person.
4) When spurs said that they would play three games at a different ground, did they state whether it was Wembley or whl. I actually think Spurs will play all their games at Wembley this season but can’t admit it yet. And all those people were worried that spurs will play at three grounds this season.
5) One more point and Spurs are safe from relegation.
Paulo (still traumatised by two points from eight games)
This is such fun
Enjoying the title race – Spur,s City and Liverpool are all pushing unprecedented excellence out of each other. Plenty of twists and turns to come. Simply don’t get the partisan vitriolic crap that can fill these pages. We are seeing the best ever football. Salah’s goal was electric poetry. How can people be snidely seeing such brilliance from whichever team? What is not to love about this battle for the Prem?
Same goes in relegation battle. What is not to love about Cardiff’s winner?