• Analysis

Analysis: What went wrong for Maurizio Sarri?

Getty Images

Maurizio Sarri has had a very bad month at Chelsea, culminating with the incident with Kepa Arrizabalaga in the final of the League Cup on Sunday.

The Italian was appointed as a new manager of the Blues in July 2018 and he had a flying start to his new life at Stamford Bridge.

He brought Jorginho from Napoli with him and bought the young goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois, who signed for the European champions – Real Madrid.

Sarri implemented a new style of play at Stamford Bridge, which is more like “tiki-taka” instead of Chelsea’s direct approach throughout the years.

He was unbeaten in his first 12 Premier League games, winning eight of them. His run was stopped by Tottenham in late November, but Sarri managed to get five victories out of seven games, including a 2-0 win against Man City in the traditional festive period.

He got Gonzalo Higuain (another former player of Napoli) on loan in January and secured a League Cup final against Pep Guardiola.

And then everything just fell apart for the Italian. Chelsea lost 2-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates, before being humiliated by Bournemouth and Manchester City respectively a few weeks later.

But most importantly, Sarri seems to have lost the dressing room, which is probably his biggest problem at the moment.

Eden Hazard has been flirting with Real Madrid during the season and after being criticized that he is not working enough for the club, the Belgian got himself in a “press fight” with his manager.

“I didn’t just frustrate Conte. In my career I have frustrated all of my trainers,” he explained to France Football.

“Now here I am frustrating [Maurizio] Sarri. They think I need to mark more, do more here, more than I am doing. And the next coach I have, I will also frustrate him!”

Sarri didn’t like that and called the left winger “more an individual player than a leader”, asking him to decide whether he wants to stay at the Bridge or move to Madrid.

After the 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth, Sarri spent more than 45 minutes speaking to his players in the dressing room. He criticized his players about their lack of motivation and winning mentality, with Eden Hazard being in the spotlight again.

There were already reports that Chelsea’s players got sick of his style of football and that most of them disagree with their manager over the tactics.

Another problem is the misusing of N’Golo Kante, who is arguably the best defensive midfielder in the World. The Frenchman, however, has a more attacking role in Sarri’s Chelsea, as Jorginho operates in his favorite area.

The Blues suffered their biggest defeat in many years against City, losing 6-0 at the Etihad two weeks ago. They had the chance for revenge in Sunday’s League Cup final.

It was a great chance to improve the atmosphere in the dressing room, as Maurizio Sarri was chasing the first trophy in his career.

As the game approached a penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw, Chelsea attempted to bring on substitute goalkeeper Willy Caballero for Arrizabalaga, who appeared injured moments before.

But the Spaniard said that he is fine and refused to be substituted, causing a huge row with his manager.

Chelsea lost the game 4-3 on penalties and Sarri in the post-match interview said that the incident with his goalkeeper was just a big misunderstanding.

“It was only a big misunderstanding, Kepa was right, but in the wrong way I think, in the wrong way in the way he behaved and conducted himself, but mentally he was right, he was able to go to penalties.”

However, we believe that Maurizio Sarri needs to bench the Spanish goalkeeper because of the amount of disrespect that Kepa showed towards the Italian manager.

It may be his last attempt to put the dressing room under control and save his job at Chelsea.