A string of losses, headlined by an embarrassing 6-0 defeat at Man City, has brought the Italian’s job security into the spotlight
Maurizio Sarri’s future at Chelsea is at risk as a dramatic drop in form and positive results across the winter period has left a number of his players concerned that his football philosophy is not getting the best out of the squad at his disposal, Goal understands.
Chelsea’s main priority for the season is to qualify for next term’s Champions League competition, but an embarrassing 6-0 defeat away to Manchester City at the weekend has left the club in sixth place in the Premier League.
The Europa League offers another route into Europe’s elite club competition, and with Chelsea having drawn Malmo – the team with the smallest wage budget of the remaining 32 clubs – the Blues should fancy their chances of progression.
Unrest at the club threatens to derail those hopes, however, with a series of humbling defeats in recent times leading to doubts amongst the group after the Italian trainer was initially welcomed with open arms as the Blues returned to fast-paced, possession-based football upon his arrival.
Chelsea’s players are understood to be unhappy with a rigid and automatic approach to training, with the manager’s drills designed to fast-track the group into understanding his methodology. There are also concerns over limitations of freedom of movement on the pitch.
In addition, frustrations have been aired over the timing of training sessions, with some starting as late as 3pm and dragging into the evening.
Sarri has also divided his squad into two parts – a core group and a fringe group – as he attempts to speed up the process of educating the players he feels are best picking up his philosophy. As a result, several members of the team have been left feeling neglected.
A lack of rotation has become glaringly obvious under the 60-year-old, meaning several players who are used to getting game time have been marginalised, while Callum Hudson-Odoi’s lack of minutes was a significant factor behind his desire to join Bayern Munich in January.
The club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, has taken an increasingly hands-off approach this season, but Sarri is relying on the patience of a man who is very well known for having little of it.
A refusal to adjust his methods smacks of a confidence in himself, but whether Abramovich will feel the same remains to be seen.
Sarri conducted training with his assistant manager Gianfranco Zola, a Chelsea icon, on Monday and meaning Zola is well placed to lead the club until the end of the season should the club’s results continue to decline.
Mbappe vs Giroud: Pogba clears air on ‘rift’ between France teammates
France midfielder, Paul Pogba, has cleared the air on a ‘rift’ between teammates, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.
Recall that Mbappe felt ‘attacked’ and ‘angry’ following Giroud’s comments that he was unhappy with France’s lack of cohesion in attack after Didier Deschamps’s side defeated Bulgaria 3-0 in their final Euro 2020 warm-up game on Tuesday evening.
Reacting to the development, Pogba insisted that there is a ‘great atmosphere’ in the French camp ahead of their Euro 2020 campaign.
Asked whether there has been any tension or rift between Giroud and Mbappe, Pogba told a pre-match press conference ahead of the Euro 2020 campaign: “No, the only tension is on the back and legs!
“There is always a great atmosphere with everyone. Between Olivier and Kylian, there is nothing. Or at least there has been nothing in front of me.
“Maybe what was said was conveyed incorrectly,” he added.
France kicks off their Euro 2020 campaign against Germany next Tuesday.
The World Cup champions will also face Portugal and Hungary in Group F.
Transfer: Giroud welcome to join me at AC Milan – Ibrahimovic
Ferdinand, Shearer, Lineker predict Euro 2020 winner
Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker have all predicted that France will win Euro 2020.
The French will expect to add a continental triumph to their World Cup success.
Dider Deschamps’ team conquered the world in Russia three years ago, with the squad still boasting of Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and N’Golo Kante.
Karim Benzema has also returned from a five-year exile to add more strength to the already deadly attack.
UCL: Lineker, others praise Chelsea’s Mason after 2-0 win over Porto
“France to win it. They have got talent all over the pitch,” Shearer told the BBC.
Ferdinand added: “France have got the most depth and the most talent, that is why they are my favourites.”
Lineker however believes defending champions Portugal could yet retain their crown, but has still backed Les Bleus.
“It’s hard to look beyond France – they were losing finalists five years ago, they won the World Cup three years ago and now they have Karim Benzema too.
“They will be improved and they have brilliant young players too. They have to be favourites.
“Portugal are not exactly an outsider because they won the thing four years ago but they have a very good team and they will have a chance,” he said.
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