In the summer, Chelsea’s search for a new manager was narrowed down to a few names on a piece of paper. Luis Enrique was one of them, a two-time La Liga winner and Champions League victor.
There was also Laurent Blanc, the winner of three Ligue 1 titles with Paris Saint-Germain. Then there was Maurizio Sarri, the proud owner of ‘Sarri-ball’ but someone who had won nothing.
Sarri is 60 and has never had that winning feeling. Chelsea looked beyond his lack of honours in the summer but, with the benefit of hindsight, their bravery is beginning to look silly.
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is under growing scrutiny in his position as manager
Chelsea were thrashed 4-0 by Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday
Teams quickly realised that if you stop Jorginho, you'll likely stop Chelsea entirely
Feb 2 – Huddersfield at home (PL)
Feb 10 – Man City away (PL)
Feb 14 – Malmo away (CL)
Feb 18 – Man Utd at home (FA Cup)
Feb 21 – Malmo at home (CL)
Feb 24 – Man City at Wembley (Carabao Cup)
Feb 27 – Tottenham at home (PL)
Clubs don’t tend to hire on the basis of beautiful football. Not those at the top, anyway. Manchester United went for Jose Mourinho over Mauricio Pochettino in 2016, partly because of the trophies on the Portuguese’s CV.
Arsenal went for Unai Emery over Mikel Arteta for obvious reasons, too.
Yet Chelsea had heard great things about Sarri and showed faith. As Marina Granovskaia, Roman Abramovich’s closest confidante, said at his unveiling: ‘Maurizio’s Napoli side played some of the most exciting football in Europe, impressing with their attacking approach and dynamism.’
Seven months after being made manager, however, ‘Sarri-ball’ has stalled. In pre-season, it seemed a thing of Beauty. It was death by passing.
Then, Premier League sides figured out all they had to do was get Jorginho out of the game. Tottenham did it using Dele Alli, Arsenal did it with Aaron Ramsey and Bournemouth did it in midweek, with 21-year-old David Brooks the stand-out star at the Vitality Stadium.
Chelsea lost 4-0 and are now staring at a third season out of the Premier League’s top four since 2015. They face Huddersfield on Saturday, who they should hammer, but Manchester City away is next.
At a club that has