Maurizio Sarri has no intention of moving away from his footballing principles but maintains he can have a long-term future as Chelsea head coach and persuade sceptical supporters that his way is the right way.
Owner Roman Abramovich is not renowned for his patience and the humiliating losses to Bournemouth and Manchester City, followed by the negative reaction of the fans during Monday’s FA Cup exit to Manchester United, could result in Sarri’s departure after just seven months in the job.
Sarri’s future could be determined by Thursday’s Europa League last-32 second leg with Malmo – they hold a 2-1 first-leg advantage – Sunday’s Carabao Cup final with City and next Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham.
The 60-year-old said: “The system is a false problem. I want to see football in another way.”
Sarri’s stubborn refusal to compromise on his 4-3-3 system and possession-based style known as ‘Sarri-ball’ and predictable substitutions were ridiculed by the home supporters on Monday, who joined in as United fans sang “You’re getting sacked in the morning” and added “F*** Sarri-ball”.
Asked if he can change the fans’ views, Sarri added: “We need to win three, four matches in a row. It’s the only solution.
“I can understand very well the frustration of our fans because they are used to winning. Now we are in trouble, so I can understand very well.
“There isn’t another way. We can only have good performances and results.”
Sarri says he has not spoken to Abramovich or director Marina Granovskaia this week and insists he has faced more difficult periods in a long career in Italy.
Asked if this was the most difficult period of his career, Sarri said: “Not at all. I had a lot of problems in the past, especially in League One, League Two (Serie B, Serie C).
“I have to think that I will be the manager of Chelsea for a long time, otherwise I cannot work. I am not sure (if I will be here for a long time), but I have to think this. I have to work and I want to work with a long-range target.
“Of course in this moment it’s very difficult to think we’re able to win three, four matches in a row. As you know very well in football everything can change in one day. I think we need first of all a good performance, a good result and with more confidence, we are able to do anything.”
- Thursday: Malmo (H) Europa League last-32 second leg
- Sunday: Man City (N) Carabao Cup final
- February 27: Tottenham (H) Premier League
Chelsea’s congested fixture calendar makes finding solutions difficult for Sarri.
“It’s not very easy because we have no time,” added Sarri, who refuses to look beyond Uwe Rosler’s Malmo to Wembley.
“I think Sunday is too far. We need to think to this match. This match is a chance to qualify and so we have to think only of this.
“Then starting from after the Europa League match we can start to think of the other match. Now we need to be focused because the match is not easy.”
Full-back Davide Zappacosta is a doubt with illness, winger Pedro with a stomach problem and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with a hamstring injury.
Sarri is uncertain whether Kepa can be fit to play on Sunday, so Willy Caballero could be asked to deputise on Thursday and against his former club with a trophy at stake.
Sarri does not plan to make wholesale personnel changes as mistakes have affected all his players at one time or another as he again spoke of the importance of mentality.
He said: “Everybody sooner or later was involved in a mistake. So I think we need more to change the mentality than the players.”
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