Maurizio Sarri admitted he does not know if Chelsea will sack him as manager and said it was right that there should be scrutiny of his position following the 6-0 hiding at Manchester City.
This was Chelsea’s biggest defeat since a 7-0 loss to Nottingham Forest in April 1991 and followed defeats of 4-0 at Bournemouth and 2-0 at Arsenal in their two previous away games. Asked if he feared losing his job, Sarri said “I don’t know” before admitting “my job is always at risk”, a situation that is hardly likely to be helped by what Sarri went on to say to Sky Sports Italia. “If the president [Roman Abramovich] calls, I’ll be happy, seeing as I never hear from him. To be honest, I don’t know what to expect.”
Abramovich’s record with managers suggests Sarri should not expect to be in charge of Chelsea for much longer, with further quotes to Sky Sports Italia attributed to the 60-year-old suggesting he is unsure of how to turn round the fortunes of a team that has dropped to sixth.
“Matches like this can leave a mark,” Sarri said. “It won’t be easy to get back on our feet after this. Football is also made of heavy defeats. At half-time I told the lads that, if we were able to react, we’d come back stronger than ever.”
Sarri has at least received the support of Pep Guardiola, a close personal friend. “People don’t understand how difficult the first year can be,” he said. “My first season here was difficult. People think if you buy players you can immediately come in and win but you need time. It just depends on the belief of the owners.”
After the defeat at Arsenal last month Sarri said he was having a problem motivating his players. He denied there had been a similar difficulty here . “No, I don’t think so. My feeling in the week was good and yesterday in the meeting it was good, and in the warm-up. So my feeling was the motivation was the right level.
“We started well and then conceded the goal after four minutes in a stupid way and at that moment we had to stay in the match. We were not able to do it. We made a lot of mistakes against the wrong opponents, we have to say that they played fantastic football.”
At the end Sarri failed to shake Guardiola’s hand. “I didn’t see him at that moment. Of course it’s usual to shake,” said the Chelsea manager. “I’ll go to say hello to him later . It was by chance. I wanted to go to the dressing room and didn’t see him. I’ve no problem with Pep.” Guardiola concurred. “I spoke with Gianfranco Zola [Sarri’s assistant] and it’s no problem. I have a good relationship with him.”
The victory takes City clear of Liverpool on goal difference again, though Liverpool have a game in hand. Tottenham are five points back, also from a game fewer.
Guardiola believes his team have the same appetite for success as his great Barcelona side. “It is there,” he said. “Our staff don’t love them too much because we don’t let [the players] breathe but it’s the only way. When we are not together any more they’ll say these guys worked a lot.
“The only way I know is that the more you win games, the more you have to work. If you make a good performance, we have to maintain the level, we are competing with Tottenham and Liverpool – they’ve made their best start in their whole history.
“The Liverpool trophy room is much bigger than ours so for us to still be there [competing] means a lot.”