Maurizio Sarri admits he is staggered why his position as Chelsea head coach is under increasing peril when he considers Pep Guardiola’s first season at Manchester City.
The 60-year-old Italian is clinging to his job, seven months since his appointment, after following the 4-0 loss to Bournemouth with a humiliating 6-0 defeat at City which leaves the Blues outside the Champions League qualification places.
Yet Sarri’s Chelsea have more wins – 28 – after 43 games than City did in Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad Stadium, 2015-16.
Guardiola had pedigree at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and was given time – and funds – to overhaul City, who will be bidding to win a second successive Carabao Cup against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday.
History suggests Sarri is not likely to receive the same leeway as he also pointed to the praise presented to Arsenal boss Unai Emery in the Spaniard’s first season.
Sarri, who is seeking the first trophy of his management career, said: “We are in the first final of the season. We are one point from the top four, the same points as Arsenal, and (people say) Arsenal are doing well.
“We are doing a little bit better because we are in a final, and yet our season is a disaster. I don’t understand.
“I want you to remember that, last season, this team gained 70 points, not 100. Then, in the summer, we changed everything. So there is another problem to solve. So it is not easy.”
Tottenham visit Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday in a big week for Chelsea, with Sarri acknowledging the basic facts.
He said: “In my job, I need the result. Nothing else.”
Sarri succeeded Antonio Conte in July after Chelsea’s fifth-placed finish behind City, who added the league title with a record points haul after victory in the League Cup.
Guardiola’s style of play took time to implement and he had an expensively assembled squad.
Sarri clearly feels he should be given the same time, although Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not renowned for his patience and the transfer ban imposed by FIFA on Friday could have a major impact.
“He (Guardiola) was lucky,” Sarri said.
“I think that, if you choose Guardiola, you have to wait because the club knows very well that Guardiola needs time.”
After a Community Shield defeat to City, Chelsea were unbeaten for the first 18 competitive games of Sarri’s spell as head coach, until Spurs inflicted a first defeat, at Wembley.
Since, Chelsea have been recklessly inconsistent – the highs including December’s win over City and the League Cup semi-final success over Spurs – and Blues fans targeted Sarri in Monday’s FA Cup loss at home to Manchester United.
Sarri says the results against City on December 8 and February 10 are not a true reflection of his Chelsea.
He said: “The truth is in the middle. It’s really very important for us to stay in the match for a very long time. Then we will be able to do something.”
During the United loss, Chelsea fans delivered an expletive-laden critique of ‘Sarri-ball’, the possession-based style the Italian favours. But he does not recognise the moniker.
He added: “As I said in England on the first day, I don’t know what Sarri-ball is.”
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