There were reports in the Evening Standard yesterday that Chelsea are looking to move on Maurizio Sarri after the Europa League final, regardless of whether they win the trophy or not.
The Italian would be replaced by Frank Lampard, who has his own big game next week, with Derby in the playoff final. The sacked rumours were reported again later that night by Gianluca Di Marzio of Sky Italia.
The reasoning is that, while Sarri achieved his objectives at the club, the players and fans haven’t taken to him fully. There’s no denying that – there were literally parts of the stadium singing against him at times last year; while the Standard say that some senior players will push to leave if he stays.
It would be a harsh sacking. With a limited squad, Sarri did achieve what was asked of him – getting into the Champions League. Things have gone terribly wrong at times, but there were enough good moments to convince most people he would earn a second run.
It would certainly be a surprising move to get rid of him for a man whose managerial experience so far is one season in the Championship – even if that man is Frank Lampard. Fans of other clubs, looking in from the outside, are understandably a little puzzled by the doubts about our manager’s future.
But football is a game of emotion, and sometimes things have to be felt to be understood. Sarri probably does deserve more time, and more of an effort in the transfer market to back him. But if the fans and the players are set against him, is there any point ploughing money and time into a second season if he’s already walking a tightrope? The sense in the stadium at times last season was that it was going to be impossible for the former Napoli boss to win the fans back over – and also that he wasn’t at all bothered about doing so.
Even if we do back him in the summer, he’d still be fighting against the tide from day one. Is there any point persisting if we’re just going to end up sacking him in January, with another season wasted? Keeping a potentially moribund regime alive for the sake of “stability” might just be throwing good money after bad.
Sacking him midway through next season is hardly the stability we’re looking for either.
It’s a tough call for everyone at the club, and there are arguments for both paths. What is clear, however, is why the manager’s future is in question at all, despite the team finishing in third.