Maurizio Sarri puzzled by Chelsea collapse, says sorry to fans

Bournemouth's Charlie Daniels celebrates scoring their fourth goal against Chelsea on Wednesday. The 4-0 win resulted in the Blues dropping out of the Premier League's top four on goal difference.
Bournemouth's Charlie Daniels celebrates scoring their fourth goal against Chelsea on Wednesday. The 4-0 win resulted in the Blues dropping out of the Premier League's top four on goal difference.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Maurizio Sarri has admitted that he may not be equipped to motivate his players after Chelsea were trounced 4-0 at Bournemouth, their heaviest Premier League defeat since 1996.

The Italian, who endured chants of "You don't know what you're doing" from the livid away fans, kept his team in the dressing room for around an hour after the final whistle on Wednesday night in an effort to understand why a game that had been goalless at half-time had unravelled so spectacularly.

The defeat led to Chelsea dropping out of the top four on goal difference and places his position under scrutiny six months into a three-year contract.

Speaking after the post-match inquest, during which he asked the rest of his coaching staff to leave, Sarri said: "In that moment I wanted to talk to them alone, without anybody. I needed to understand, it was so different in the first and second half.

"In the first half, we could never see that the second half would be a disaster. We stopped playing. We didn't play like a team. It's difficult to understand why.

"The players are good enough. Maybe we are not at the top of the Premier League, but we are competitive. We can lose, of course, in every match, but not in this way."

Asked if he was good enough to steer the Blues to success, he added: "Maybe it's my fault, maybe I'm not able to motivate them. But the team are very strong, they are also able to win without the coach."

He had been critical of his players after the recent 2-0 defeat by Arsenal in the hope of coaxing a positive reaction but, despite encouraging Cup wins against Tottenham and Sheffield Wednesday, this was a second successive loss in the league and the fifth in their past 12 games.

However, the 60-year-old claimed he did not feel his job was "under pressure" before apologising to the travelling supporters after Joshua King scored a brace either side of David Brooks' strike before Charlie Daniels completed the rout in stoppage time.

He said: "I didn't see the signal of my work. So I am frustrated. I have to try again tomorrow because I need to solve this problem. We have only to say sorry to our fans."

But while Sarri publicly questioned his team's resolve, Mauricio Pochettino, on the other hand, revelled in the "massive commitment" shown by Son Heung-min.

The forward, who returned to Spurs after South Korea exited the Asian Cup, was a bundle of energy at Wembley, cancelling out Craig Cathcart's opener before Fernando Llorente's winner in the 2-1 win.

Such was Son's dedication to their cause that the Spurs manager had no choice but to keep the player on the field for 90 minutes even though "it was not the plan".

He said: "I'm so happy with his performance. He deserves a lot of praise. I have to be honest, I'm happy that he's back because he's helping us to try to win."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2019, with the headline 'Sarri puzzled by Chelsea collapse, says sorry to fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe