Zola insists Chelsea’s players do have character

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: Gianfranco Zola, assistant coach of Chelsea arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Chelsea FC at Turf Moor on October 28, 2018 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Assistant coach Gianfranco Zola is adamant that the Chelsea squad do have character amid their recent struggles.

Manager Maurizio Sarri recently slammed his players’ lack of desire and was left mystified by their 6-0 thrashing at Manchester City last weekend after recently losing 4-0 to Bournemouth.

Chelsea have now fallen out of the top-four in the Premier League table and left Sarri further frustrated on Thursday night with their defensive errors in a narrow 2-1 Europa League win at Malmo FF.

But Zola is convinced that the current crop of Chelsea players have a similar character to legends like John Terry and Marcel Desailly.

The Italian also added that the team are still trying to learn to gel together at the moment.

“They are different personalities but characters (are similar),” said Zola on Sky Sports, while comparing the Chelsea players to past greats.

“I think this group, like in the one I had in my time, didn’t like losing. Maybe they are showing it in another way but it’s wrong to make comparisons like that. We believe that we didn’t like (losing to City) and they reacted yesterday and they continue to react.

“It would be good if we could react more as a team rather than as individuals. Against Manchester City we reacted, yes, but reacted individually. There were players taking the responsibility and they wanted to change the situation on their own.

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“But what we are building here is a philosophy of playing and we need to learn to react altogether. It’s not enough that just one player gets the ball and tries to beat two players. That’s not the way we try to win games.

“But if you ask me, I don’t believe that this group doesn’t care. They care. They just need to get this understanding of working together.”

The Blues will next take on an in-form Manchester United on Monday in a fifth-round FA Cup clash at Stamford Bridge.

“Of course when you lose 6-0 you don’t enjoy it, but we also won 5-0 and everyone enjoyed that,” Zola said.

“But again, there is a stage when you are working on something that, when it’s still not in place, it can be hard, but there will be a moment when you are going to enjoy it a lot more than at the moment.

“I always loved this game but there were moments when I was playing that it wasn’t pleasant because I was working on it. I believe the players are enjoying what they’re doing, and like what we’re doing.

“But I also know that there are moments when we lose and things don’t work it’s painful. But we continue because we believe in what we’re doing.”

Gianfranco Zola
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 02: Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea and Gianfranco Zola, Assistant Coach of Chelsea give their team instructions during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Fulham FC at Stamford Bridge on December 1, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)