Sorryball! Shambolic Chelsea face another crisis after City humiliation
The pressure will pile on Maurizio Sarri after Chelsea were thrashed 6-0 following a horrific defensive and tactical performance in Manchester
Not since 1991 have Chelsea conceded six or more goals in a top-flight league match, but a mauling in Manchester followed a beating in Bournemouth.
Sarriball has become Sorryball, as Maurizio Sarri strives to oversee a football revolution at Stamford Bridge, building a possession-based team out of a counter-attacking side.
Sarri champions high-pressing, slick, possession football but he is struggling to get his ideas across in west London right now.
In the 6-0 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, the Blues did follow their manager’s footballing philosophy, but they were still humiliated as they made countless individual and team defensive errors.
Marcos Alonso has been a weak-link for most of the season, despite signing a big-money and long-term deal, and he was at fault for the opening goal as he failed to pass on marking duties on Bernardo Silva to either Eden Hazard or Ross Barkley.
Raheem Sterling duly made it 1-0, which was not the start the top four hopefuls could afford, and things would soon get much worse as Sergio Aguero curled home a wonder-goal to make it two.
Mistakes from Ross Barkley and Kepa Arrizabalaga led to further goals from Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan, as the Blues lost four goals in a half for the second time in three weeks.
Even the club’s leader, Cesar Azpilicueta, produced a moment of poor decision-making, bringing down Sterling to allow Aguero to grab yet another hat-trick. Sterling then made it 6-0 and the scoreline could have been even more severe by the end.
Sarri will privately – perhaps publicly – point to the poor ‘mentality’ of the group, having complained last week that it is “extremely difficult to motivate his players” but there is little chance of him changing his philosophy.
All this, despite the fact it had been 22 years since Chelsea had lost by four goals in a match – with Sarri now suffering a setback equal or bigger than this twice in a matter of weeks.
Sarri has admitted that the Chelsea job is tougher than he imagined in what is his first foray outside of Italy, but he is now asking for blind faith from his employers.
Many have pointed to Guardiola’s similar struggles in his first season at Man City, but unlike his friend in the opposition dugout, Sarri can’t point to previous major trophy wins.
The manager’s job at Chelsea is looking more and more like a poisoned chalice, as the club’s short-termism when it comes to coaching appointments results in performances like this one in Manchester.
The club has their star player, Eden Hazard, running down his contract and the lack of implementation of academy players down the years has led to a situation where Callum Hudson-Odoi wants to leave for Bayern Munich.
There will be no tactical switches, and as talented as Gonzalo Higuain is, it is too much for him to fix all the problems alone. Manchester United have now moved into fourth place above Chelsea and seem more likely to get the final Champions League place at the end of the season.
Can Chelsea afford to fail to qualify for the Champions League for the third time in four years? Will such a failure come into Hazard’s thinking when he decides his future?
Chelsea’s current crisis raises questions throughout the club, and the club’s hierarchy certainly will be debating whether they think about the long term and back Sarri or revert to their old ways.
Sarri surely deserves more time, but Pep Guardiola’s men showed that the difference between Chelsea and Man City right now is as big as it ever has been.