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Maurizio Sarri: I am not scared of straight-talking or player power at Chelsea

The Blues coach isn’t making any radical changes to tactics but hopes that his strong words galvanise the team.

Maurizio Sarri (file pic).
Maurizio Sarri (file pic).

MAURIZIO SARRI RAGED after Chelsea’s poor performance that led to a 2-0 defeat to rivals Arsenal on Saturday and said that his players are “extremely difficult to motivate”.

He also said he was ‘p*ssed off’ and spoke in Italian for the first time since his unveiling at the club in July, as he seemed to be sending a message to his side.

The Blues were facing off against an Arsenal defence that has looked vulnerable at times but were blunt and predictable in attack, only managing their first shot on target in the 82nd minute, leading to their third non-scoring display in the last five matches.

Sarri doesn’t think it is much of a risk to point fingers at his players, despite the club’s previous accusations of the impact of player power on the high level of hiring and firing of head coaches at Stamford Bridge. He isn’t scared of conflict as he aims to encourage a change in character of his group to improve his side’s chances.

“I don’t know. It is my character, though,” Sarri told reporters at the Emirates Stadium. “I don’t think it is risky. These guys have a sensible head on their shoulders, so I don’t think I am risking anything.

“I said the players are difficult to motivate but by the same token, there are players who are sensible, who will listen and won’t take it the wrong way. There might be a slight risk, but I don’t think there is. This is my character — I am a straight-talker.

This is how I speak. Yes, sometimes when you speak in that way it might cause some upset or some conflict, but it doesn’t cause any lingering bitterness. I think we probably do [have leaders].

“I think we might even have someone who is capable of embodying the characteristics I have talked about. Of course there is always a danger a leader emerges who is a bad leader — who doesn’t necessarily do the kind of things that I want the team to do.

“Nevertheless I do think we need to change the mentality and I do think within the group of players we do have that ability and the characteristics to change.”

Antonio Conte coached Chelsea before Sarri and his disappointing fifth place last season finish came as he not only had a strained relationship with the club’s board, but also with many of the club’s players.

The former Blues boss’s clashes with the club’s board often centred around the need to overhaul the squad through the transfer market, as he believed his side weren’t good enough to achieve its aims.

Sarri doesn’t share that view and thinks that adds that he will stick with his tactical approach without necessarily needing many new signings

I can’t remember exactly what happened,” Sarri added. “But with my team I think it is different because with Conte at the time was using a three-man defence and changed to a four-man defence. But he was used to doing that anyway, so it wasn’t quite the same, whereas this is the football I have.

“I am a good teacher of this football. I don’t think it would be a good idea if I try to teach my players a different type of football. There will be some changes perhaps but there will be no massive upheaval.

“When I came here certainly I realised the group had a huge amount of potential. There is no doubt about that. I don’t think it would be correct for me to talk about being disappointed with what I found when I arrived.

“When I arrived, of course, I knew the team was coming off the back of a pretty disappointing season. Over the last couple of years they have a lost some really important points of reference for the club. But certainly the team has a lot of potential.”

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However, Gonzalo Higuain is likely to arrive into the club in January, as Chelsea work to finalise a deal with his parent club Juventus to takeover his AC Milan loan deal. Chelsea need to offload Alvaro Morata before they sign him, while Milan are targeting Krzysztof Piątek as a replacement from Genoa.

Sarri won’t punish his players after another high-profile collapse and he is hoping that keeping a positive atmosphere in training can help his players learn his system more quickly.

I am pretty consistent in my approach in that I like there to be a good atmosphere I like it when the players are enjoying themselves because if they are enjoying themselves out on the pitch, there is more chance that they are going to be winning and that is an enjoyable experience as well,” he continued.

“Nevertheless, I am demanding in the sense that we need to have the right attitude and approach and we need to be able to show exactly the same or even better level of determination than our opponents.”

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