Arsenal vs Chelsea: Maurizio Sarri reveals why he criticised his players in public and why he'd do it again

Sarri questioned the mentality and motivation of his players after the defeat at the Emirates

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Sunday 20 January 2019 16:12
Comments
Maurizio Sarri furious at Chelsea team after defeat to Arsenal

Maurizio Sarri said he was willing to take the risk of publicly berating his Chelsea players as he thinks they are “sensible” enough to respond in the right way - but insisted they have to change, because he won’t.

The Italian stated that he will stay true to his approach despite the recent downturn in form that led to the nadir of the tepid 2-0 defeat away to Arsenal on Sunday. That display drew a furious response from Sarri where he repeatedly questioned the mentality and motivation of his players, and spoke in Italian because he was so “extremely angry”.

A softer Sarri stated afterwards that he didn’t think this was anything more than a slight risk, because the mentality of the current squad would be more open to constructive criticism, and is different to the player-power problems Chelsea have had in the past.

Even if the Italian was mindful of that history, though, he insisted he wouldn’t be able to hold back.

“It is my character, though,” Sarri said. “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.”

A different example from Chelsea’s history was also put to Sarri, if from the same stadium. A similar outburst from Antonio Conte after a similar two-goal defeat at Arsenal didn’t lead to player revolt, but instead to a revolution in results. Sarri’s predecessor changed formation and won the league.

The current manager got the sentiment, but it was here he insisted he would be making none of the changes that Conte did. He expressed full belief in his way of playing, and specifically teaching.

“I can remember exactly what happened. But with my team I think it is different because with Conte at the time was using a four-man defence and changed to a three-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.”

While Sarri conceded his squad had lost “points of reference” - namely conspicuous leaders like Cesc Fabregas, to add to names like John Terry over the past few years - he felt some new characters could emerge from this dressing room.

“I think we probably do. 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.

Sarri was furious with his players after the game

“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.”

Sarri still allowed the Chelsea players a scheduled day off on Sunday despite his initial fury.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in