Michael Tucker

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Everything posted by Michael Tucker

  1. Chelsea vs Manchester United

    Please use this thread for all posts relating to our FA Cup 5th Round match against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, before, during and after the game. The Moderators will be keeping an eye on things, so let's try to keep it intelligent. Please note that this un-moderated forum is a privilege and its abuse will result in the suspension of your account. The match is scheduled to kick off at 19:30, Monday 18th February, 2019 (Local UK time/date).
  2. Chelsea vs Manchester United

    Guys, we're moving in dangerous waters here. Please, let's get back to posting about the game.
  3. Chelsea vs Malmo FF

    Please use this thread for all posts relating to our Europa League Round of 32, 2nd Leg match against Malmo FF at Stamford Bridge, before, during and after the game. The Moderators will be keeping an eye on things, so let's try to keep it intelligent. Please note that this un-moderated forum is a privilege and its abuse will result in the suspension of your account. The match is scheduled to kick off at 20:00, Thursday, 21st February, 2019 (Local UK time/date).
  4. Chelsea vs Manchester United

    Man United vs. Chelsea is all about the managers, Solskjaer and Sarri, fighting for their futures Manchester United revealed last week that it cost £19.6 million to sack Jose Mourinho and his coaches in December. If proof was ever needed that finding the right manager can be an expensive business, it was laid out in black and white, halfway down a news release about United's financial figures, under the section marked "exceptional items." Chelsea, who face United in Monday's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Stamford Bridge, know all about sacking managers too. When they dispensed with Mourinho during his second spell in charge in December 2015, the compensation package amounted to £8.3m, so the price of appointing the wrong man has clearly escalated over recent seasons. Yet as the two clubs prepare to battle it out for a place in the FA Cup quarterfinals, managerial uncertainty continues to hang over both like a thick fog.There are some rays of light beginning to shine through at United, with caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer giving the club's hierarchy a different kind of problem in the sense that he might actually have become the best option for the job on a full-time basis. If he did get the permanent job, it would save them a reported £34m bill to prise Mauricio Pochettino from his Tottenham contract. But at Chelsea, despite Thursday's 2-1 Europa League round of 32, first-leg victory over Malmo in Sweden, last summer's appointment of Maurizio Sarri is starting to look as though it is heading for the "expensive mistake" category. So Monday's cup tie, a repeat of last season's final which was won by Chelsea, has become a game that, while important for their respective hopes of silverware this season, is now all about two managers fighting for their future, albeit in wholly different scenarios. Sarri needs a victory to silence his critics -- they include the club's supporters, who chanted "You don't know what you're doing" during last month's 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth -- after a dismal run of results that has seen Chelsea drop to sixth position in the Premier League. So far in 2019, Chelsea have played three league games away from Stamford Bridge and lost all three, conceding 12 goals in the process and scoring none. Sarri's refusal to compromise his football philosophy -- the so-called "Sarri-ball" -- has led to reports of players losing faith in his methods, a situation unlikely to have been helped by the 60-year-old twice criticising the commitment and motivation of his team in recent weeks. Sarri is under fire already, in his first season as Chelsea manager, and heads into Monday's FA Cup clash needing a win to buy him some goodwill with his bosses and the fans. In many ways, Sarri is replicating the mistakes made by Mourinho, both in his last spell at Chelsea and at United, by being inflexible with his tactics and too often pointing the finger of blame at his players. If he really is fighting for his future as Chelsea manager, he can only have himself to blame. Yet in the opposing dugout on Monday, Solskjaer will be sending his team out (minus the injured Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard) and hoping to see them bounce back from the first defeat of his temporary spell in charge, last Tuesday's 2-0 Champions League loss at home to Paris Saint-Germain. Prior to that reverse, Solskjaer had worked an apparent miracle by guiding United to 10 wins out of 11 after inheriting a squad low on confidence and short on results from Mourinho in mid-December. The Norwegian was supposed to be little more than a short-term fix, a link to the club's glorious past under Sir Alex Ferguson and someone who would steady the ship until a more experienced, high-profile manager was appointed in the summer. That may still happen but Solskjaer has made a compelling case to become United's permanent boss by avoiding the mistakes made by Mourinho and, in many aspects, Sarri. He's found a system that works, deploying the right players in the right positions in a 4-3-3 set-up and injecting pace in key areas. Within that, Solskjaer has focused on the talents of midfielder Paul Pogba and made his team more suited to the Frenchman's ability. It's in sharp contrast to Mourinho, who could not get the best from the £89m signing and by the end, regarded him as more of a problem than a solution. Solskjaer has also given his players the freedom to express themselves and lightened the mood around United to the extent that the team is now playing with a smile on its face. Last week's defeat against PSG was perhaps a much-needed reality check, one that stemmed the hysteria around Solskjaer and reminded observers that neither he nor his team are yet the finished article. But there are enough signs of progress and positivity at United that Sarri desperately needs to see at Chelsea if he is to survive in the job. Unlike Solskjaer, Sarri has been unable to make the 4-3-3 formation work, largely because of his refusal to operate with Jorginho at the hub of midfield despite the Italian's lack of pace or tenacity. It's a problem exacerbated by Sarri's decision to move N'Golo Kante away from his best position in order to accommodate Jorginho. Chelsea's players have recently looked as though they are lost within Sarri's system and philosophy, especially away from home, and the manager has failed to get his best player -- Eden Hazard -- performing as impressively as Pogba is under Solskjaer. Hazard's reluctance to commit his future to Chelsea, opting instead to fuel speculation of a summer move to Real Madrid, has not helped Sarri, but the coach has equally shown little sign of being able to cajole the Belgian into displaying his best form. In many ways, Sarri is heading down the rabbit hole that cost Mourinho his last two jobs, while Solskjaer is doing everything possible to make sure he does precisely the opposite. Ultimately, neither Sarri nor Solskjaer may survive at the helm to take charge of their clubs next season, but only one of them -- Solskjaer -- is giving himself a chance of holding onto his job. If Sarri continues on his current path at Chelsea, the club will need to prepare for another costly compensation package.
  5. Manchester City 6 Chelsea 0

    Please use this thread for all posts relating to our Premier League match against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium, before, during and after the game. The Moderators will be keeping an eye on things, so let's try to keep it intelligent. Please note that this un-moderated forum is a privilege and its abuse will result in the suspension of your account. The match is scheduled to kick off at 16:00, Sunday 10th February, 2019 (Local UK time/date).
  6. Chelsea vs Manchester United

    LONDON -- Gianfranco Zola has said that this Chelsea squad reacts differently to defeat than the teams he played in during his time at Stamford Bridge, but insisted that Maurizio Sarri remains confident of teaching them to respond in the way he wants. Chelsea got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Malmo in the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday, but questions about the resilience of Sarri's group of players and whether his style can work at Stamford Bridge persist in light of last weekend's 6-0 defeat against Manchester City. Sarri has frequently suggested his players lack motivation and mental strength after setbacks this season, and Zola said an experience as humiliating as the City loss would have prompted a different reaction from some of his former Chelsea teammates. "Every group has its own characters in it," he said. "There would have been some of the players in [my] group who wouldn't have finished the game, for sure, against Manchester City. Every group has its own personalities, good and bad ones. "I don't think anyone in the group, in this group, has enjoyed that day. But everyone reacts differently. I don't want to get into it very much, but we all felt that defeat is burning [inside us]. [Against Malmo] was a good reaction. We're looking forward to continuing that." Sarri's predecessor Antonio Conte frequently warned that Chelsea needed to find new dressing room leaders after the departures of John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic during his two-year tenure, and the limp nature of their worst performances this season has led many to suggest they have still not been replaced. Zola, however, is confident that Chelsea's current squad has no shortage of strong individuals. "Yes, I believe so," he added. "They are different personalities, but characters... in this group, like the one I had in my times, doesn't like losing. Maybe they show it in another way, but it's wrong to make comparisons like that. "We believe that we didn't like it. They reacted [against Malmo] and continue to react. It will be good if we can react more as a team rather than individuals. Even against City we reacted, yes, but individually. Players took responsibility and wanted to change the situation on their own. But what we are building here is a philosophy of playing. "It's not enough for one person to get the ball and try and beat two or three players. That's not the way we want to play. But if you ask me if this group doesn't care, I don't believe that. They care. But they need to understand about how to work together, react together, pressing together. That's the way we win games." Chelsea's on-pitch struggles in 2019 have coincided with reports that many players have doubts about Sarri's tactical approach and find his training sessions confusing and repetitive, but Zola is adamant that everyone at Cobham is still pulling in the same direction. "When you lose 6-0 you don't enjoy it, but we did when we won 5-0 [against Huddersfield Town]," Zola said. "There is a stage when you are working on something that, when it's still not in place, you have to work hard. "I think the players like what we are doing. I believe this. But I know that, there are moments when it is painful. But we will continue. We believe in what we are doing."
  7. Chelsea vs Manchester United

    To Start: Kepa Azpi Rudiger Christensen Emerson Kante Jorginho Barkley Hudson-Odoi Higuain Hazard Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Luiz, Pedro, Willian, Giroud.
  8. Manchester City 6 Chelsea 0

    FT NEWPORT 1 - 4 CITY.
  9. Malmo FF 1 vs Chelsea 2

    Please use this thread for all posts relating to our Europa League Round of 32 match against Malmo FF at Malmo New Stadion, before, during and after the game. The Moderators will be keeping an eye on things, so let's try to keep it intelligent. Please note that this un-moderated forum is a privilege and its abuse will result in the suspension of your account. The match is scheduled to kick off at 20:00, Thursday, 14th February, 2019 (Local UK time/date).
  10. Chelsea vs Manchester United

    Gianfranco Zola says Monday’s FA Cup fifth round game against Manchester United marks the beginning of a crucial period in our season. It was Zola, rather than Maurizio Sarri, who addressed the media at Cobham this afternoon ahead of the game. The Italian discussed a range of subjects, including the challenge of facing in-form United, the job being carried out by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and, perhaps most importantly, player availability. ‘We have no injuries,’ said Zola. ‘Yesterday was good because we went 2-0 up so we had the opportunity to rest some players like Jorginho, Willian and Pedro also came off. We don’t have any concerns. ‘We have Ruben Loftus-Cheek who is maybe going to be available. We haven’t spoken about the team but because it’s the fifth round, and who we are playing against, we want to win and go through so I believe it’s going to be a strong team. But we haven’t made full consideration yet.’ Zola is looking forward to Monday’s match He says this is the first of three huge matches 'We know it’s a crucial moment, we have some very important matches. The next three are United in the fifth round, then we have the Carabao Cup final and then we have Tottenham in the league, where we are going to be playing for a Champions League spot. It’s an important moment. It’s very challenging and I think the key will be to face each task by only thinking about that task. The first is United and we come into the game after a good performance in the Europa League, that’s the most important thing, then we’re going to think about City and Tottenham. 'Nobody is pleased when you lose games the way we have recently. The players, coaches, everyone. We know it’s a moment in which we’ve alternated results and that’s something we don’t like. We know we have to be consistent. We have the team to afford to do that and it’s important everyone understands the situation and is working on it, players, coaches and the club. It’s not the challenge, but it’s the unity facing the challenge which makes the difference and I believe we have that.'
  11. Chelsea vs Manchester United

    DAVID LUIZ ON BELIEF IN MAURIZIO SARRI'S STYLE AND FACING MANCHESTER UNITED. The Blues take on Manchester United in the tie of the FA Cup fifth round at Stamford Bridge on Monday, and David Luiz says he hasn’t been surprised by the Red Devils’ upturn in fortunes of late given the overall strength of their squad. United suffered their first defeat under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when they were beaten by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday but prior to that setback the Norwegian, who replaced Jose Mourinho in December, had led his side on an 11-game unbeaten run. Monday’s fixture is a repeat of last season’s final, which we won 1-0, and a third consecutive meeting between the teams in the competition. David Luiz spoke about United’s form under Solskjaer. ‘Even before they were a great team with a great manager, Jose Mourinho tried to do everything for the best for Man United but then they decided to change,’ said the Brazilian. ‘It became Solskjaer and he’s doing amazing because he’s a great coach and also he has great players. United have had the same team for a long time, they understand his philosophy and they try to enjoy it.’ In terms of his own manager’s philosophy, David Luiz says the whole squad are fully supportive of Maurizio Sarri and the type of playing style he is trying to implement during his first season at the helm. ‘We have had many meetings already asking if someone doesn't believe,’ he said. ‘They can say. Nobody said anything. It's because everyone believes (in it). ‘We lost against maybe the best team in the world at the moment in Manchester City. They were better than us from the beginning to the end. ‘We lost a few matches because it is part of the process. The teams that are at the top of the table now are ones with managers who have been there for more than three years. ‘There is a big difference when you have already understood everything, it is much easier to play football. I think we are in the right way to still improve to become a fantastic team.’ The defender, who scored his very first Chelsea goal in a home win over Man United, started Thursday’s Europa League win over Malmo in Sweden as we immediately bounced back from the disappointment of last weekend's defeat at the hands of Man City. Monday’s FA Cup game is the first of three huge matches in a seven-day period, with Malmo visiting the Bridge for the return leg on Thursday before we take on Pep Guardiola’s side once again in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley next Sunday. ‘I think we have to be positive and think about what we can do now because the past is the past, you cannot change it,’ David Luiz said. ‘I’ve been playing for big clubs for many years. When you win it’s good and when you lose of course nobody is going to be happy and the pressure is going to be there. ‘I think we work together, we try to make them [the fans] happy and we are going to do everything to make them happy.’
  12. Chelsea vs Manchester United

    Chelsea vs. Manchester United means a lot for both bosses. What the FA Cup actually means to Chelsea and Manchester United (live on ESPN+ on Monday, Feb.18 at 2.30 p.m. ET) is a question that has been asked and discussed and worried about for a quarter of a century. At least one of them has made the final over the past three years, but that probably says more about the disproportionate strength of the Premier League's elite six rather than their priorities. But this game comes at a time when its importance extends beyond merely this tournament, with both sides arriving at Stamford Bridge on Monday night in some state of flux, to the point that it probably matters more to the respective managers than it does to the team as a whole. United have just suffered their first defeat of the feel-good Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, flexed aside by PSG, while according to various reports Maurizio Sarri has about a month to save his job. Will victory in this FA Cup fifth-round game decide whether both managers keep their jobs in the long term? Almost certainly not. Very rarely will a single game have that much weight placed on it. But the game represents a chance for both to at least begin a form of recovery -- in Sarri's case from a prolonged funk, for Solskjaer to stop a nascent one.
  13. Malmo FF 1 vs Chelsea 2

    Given that RL-C stayed at home, I'd keep the same lineup, and bring Willian in.
  14. Malmo FF 1 vs Chelsea 2

    Chelsea travelling squad Kepa Arrizabalaga Willy Caballero Jamie Cumming Antonio Rudiger Cesar Azpilicueta Davide Zappacosta Ethan Ampadu Andreas Christensen David Luiz Emerson N’Golo Kante Mateo Kovacic Jorginho Ross Barkley Eden Hazard Willian Pedro Callum Hudson-Odoi Gonzalo Higuain Olivier Giroud **Alonso is rested, and Loftus-Cheek has a reoccurrence of his back issues.
  15. Malmo FF 1 vs Chelsea 2

    "That doesn’t mean there’s any truth to these whispers, but it would seem a logical thing for them to be upset about" Dear me - another huge stretch by someone calling themselves a journalist. 'Wow!' indeed.
  16. Sorry, Sarri: Chelsea are set to turn to Zinedine Zidane as their next manager after woeful run PREMIER LEAGUE February 13, 2019 2:09pm by DEAN SCOGGINS, THE SUN Source: The Sun Zinedine Zidane poses with the UEFA Champions League trophy. (Photo by GENYA SAVILOV / AFP)Source: AFP Chelsea are ready to turn to Zinedine Zidane to make them a European superpower again. Current manager Maurizio Sarri is running out of backers after the 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City as the Blues dropped to sixth in the Premier League. There is growing support amongst the top brass for Zidane and talks have advanced this week over when they should make their move. Zidane’s incredible Champions League credentials, winning it three times in three years as manager of Real Madrid, are a huge draw for the Blues board. The 46-year-old is currently not in management and is understood to be very keen on a job in the Premier League. Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard — linked with a move away from the club with his contract up in 2020 — idolises Zidane. A move for the legendary French player, who won the World Cup with Les Bleus, would be encouragement for Hazard to sign a new deal. Sarri was unbeaten in his first 12 games in charge at Stamford Bridge, having succeeded sacked Antonio Conte last summer. He has taken Chelsea to a Carabao Cup final against Manchester City later this month but the Blues hierarchy are more interested in Champions League qualification.
  17. I wouldn't know 'why', but it's there in your previous post, imo. Did he? Or, did he use what he had at his disposal, and play to win? Yes, but Jose did win things; plenty of things. A spectacular career imo, even if you don't like his style. He shouldn't be belittled for that. Quite.
  18. Malmo FF 1 vs Chelsea 2

    For this one, I'd be tempted to go with this lineup: Kepa Zappa Rudiger Christensen Emerson Jorginho Kante Loftus-Cheek CHO Hazard Higuain
  19. Now Kev, you're just being silly and probably spiteful. You simply can't achieve what he achieved, at so many different clubs, in so many different countries, without being better than just 'good'. Probably? Behave. Kev, this is just nonsense. But then I'm not going to change you're opinion, even if I wanted to. Enjoy.
  20. Manchester City 6 Chelsea 0

    Yes, and not for the first time from Bob - but certainly the last if he wants to stay on this forum.
  21. Manchester City 6 Chelsea 0

    Bob, either engage in polite conversation, or go away. People don't deserve this insulting drivel. This is your very last warning.
  22. No mate, it's not as clear cut as that. I think that he brought sack on himself at United, but that doesn't make him a joke - he's simply achieved so much, as his record shows. Yes, everybody has a shelf life I guess, but I wouldn't bet against JM hitting the big time again, and winning more trophies.
  23. MANCHESTER -- On at least two occasions, Roman Abramovich tried and failed to persuade Pep Guardiola to jump onto Chelsea's managerial carousel, so the club's Russian billionaire owner will not have enjoyed seeing the Catalan mastermind Manchester City's 6-0 hammering of Maurizio Sarri's team at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. But as Guardiola's players tore Chelsea apart, inflicting the London club's heaviest-ever Premier League defeat and their biggest loss since a 7-0 reverse at Nottingham Forest in April 1991, Abramovich could have been forgiven for thinking he has ended up with nothing more than a pale imitation of the City manager in the 60-year-old Italian, who only took charge last summer following his arrival from Napoli. Abramovich has become something of an absentee owner at Stamford Bridge in recent months, partly due to an inability to renew his UK visa, and any loss of interest in events on the pitch might be enough to keep Sarri in a job. But Chelsea do not show much patience with failing managers and the current incumbent was skating on thin ice before his team were dismantled by City. After the game ended, Sarri even admitted that he has no idea whether his future is on the line. "I don't know," Sarri said. "You have to ask the club. I am worried about my team and the performance, but my job? You have to ask the club." Ten years ago this weekend, Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked after a 0-0 draw against Hull City at Stamford Bridge. At the time, Chelsea were sitting comfortably in fourth place, five points ahead of Arsenal, but the man with a World Cup win on his managerial CV had lost six of his 36 games in charge and his players had stopped listening. Sarri has lost eight of 40 games in charge and the current Chelsea squad do not seem to be listening to him either, so Abramovich is the only person who can truly say how long he has at the helm. Sarri's purist form of football, with goals, pace and ambition, worked well at Napoli -- even though he did not win a trophy -- but has not translated itself to English football. He was appointed to make Chelsea as easy on the eye as Guardiola's City and it remains to be seen whether he will, but Sarri at least has support from his opposite number in Sunday. "I know exactly what he (Sarri) wants to do," Guardiola said. "This type of person always helps to make our football better, and he tries to do it. They (Chelsea) beat us at Stamford Bridge, but people don't understand how difficult it is. My first year was difficult too." The City manager added that managers need the chance and the opportunity to succeed. "[Sarri] needs time and that depends on the believers, the owners, people in charge. The only reason I came to City, the chairman and the people here, they believe in me and don't think badly when I lose. That's why I am so happy at this club." Guardiola's last line, about the importance of being backed by his bosses, is perhaps why he never accepted Abramovich's offer to manage Chelsea, given the shelf life at Stamford Bridge is notoriously short. However, Sarri is doing little to help himself by insisting he will not change or bend the philosophy that is so clearly not working; "Sarri-ball" was more like Sorry-ball at City. Guardiola's style is so ingrained that the Premier League champions were like a machine, with their incisive football cutting the visitors apart. True, he has had time and over half a billion pounds to make City so strong, whereas Sarri is six months into his role and inherited a squad barely suited to his demands, but coaches must be flexible and pragmatic and the Chelsea boss displays neither of those qualities. "Today, I didn't see my football," he said after the humiliating defeat. "At the beginning, it worked, so now, we need only to understand the reason why, at the moment, it isn't working. We need to understand and the reason is not easy. "At the beginning we played better away than at home, now we play better at home, so something has changed and I am not able to see the reason, so I have to work for this," Sarri continued. "My target is to play my football, but at the moment we are not seeing this." Given the fortunes of his predecessors, the odds are against Sarri being given time to see his vision of utopia at Chelsea, though he does have the chance to avenge this defeat against City in the Carabao Cup final in two weeks' time (Feb. 24, 11:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+). Winning that trophy alone will not be enough to keep him in a job, however. Abramovich demands Champions League football, and Sarri is increasingly in danger of failing to deliver a top-four finish. Chelsea are sixth, behind Arsenal on goal difference and one point adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United. Sunday proved to be a good day for both Manchester clubs, then, but City were not out to do United any favours. Instead, the day was about reclaiming top spot from Liverpool, and they did so in comprehensive fashion. Sergio Aguero's second hat trick in a week stole the show, with Raheem Sterling (two) and Ilkay Gundogan completing the scoring. It was a performance to send a chill down the spine of anyone with a Liverpool connection and one that emphasised why City are favourites to win the title race. Jurgen Klopp's side must respond in their next league game, which happens to be against United at Old Trafford in two weeks. It does not get much more difficult than that, although the Chelsea players and Sarri, who face City at Wembley on the same day, might beg to differ.
  24. My guess, Kev, is pretty much any club interested in winning things. Jose's record over many years speaks for itself, despite you bagging him at every opportunity. Be a brave man that predicts that he won't do it again......:). Porto[227] Primeira Liga: 2002–03, 2003–04 Taça de Portugal: 2002–03 Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira: 2003 UEFA Champions League: 2003–04 UEFA Cup: 2002–03 Mourinho on the touchline against Leicester City in August 2014 Chelsea Premier League: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2014–15[228] FA Cup: 2006–07[227] Football League Cup: 2004–05, 2006–07,[227] 2014–15 FA Community Shield: 2005[227] Inter Milan[227] Serie A: 2008–09, 2009–10 Coppa Italia: 2009–10 Supercoppa Italiana: 2008 UEFA Champions League: 2009–10 Real Madrid[227] La Liga: 2011–12 Copa del Rey: 2010–11 Supercopa de España: 2012 Manchester United EFL Cup: 2016–17 FA Community Shield: 2016 UEFA Europa League: 2016–17 Individual Onze d'Or Coach of the Year: 2005[229] FIFA World Coach of the Year: 2010[10] IFFHS World's Best Club Coach: 2004,[230] 2005,[230] 2010,[230] 2012[230] Premier League Manager of the Season: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2014–15[228] Premier League Manager of the Month: November 2004, January 2005, March 2007[228] Serie A Manager of the Year: 2008–09,[231] 2009–10[232] Albo Panchina d'Oro: 2009–10[233] Miguel Muñoz Trophy: 2010–11,[234] 2011–12[235] UEFA Manager of the Year: 2002–03,[236] 2003–04[236] UEFA Team of the Year: 2003,[236] 2004,[236] 2005,[236] 2010[236] World Soccer Magazine World Manager of the Year: 2004,[237] 2005,[237] 2010[237] World Soccer Magazine Greatest Manager (Active): 2013 European Coach of the Year—Alf Ramsey Award: 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award: 2005[238] La Gazzetta dello Sport Man of the Year: 2010[239] International Sports Press Association Best Manager in the World: 2010[240] Prémio Prestígio Fernando Soromenho: 2012[241] Football Extravaganza's League of Legends (2011)[242] Globe Soccer Awards Best Coach of the Year: 2012[243] Globe Soccer Awards Best Media Attraction in Football: 2012[244] Portuguese Coach of the Century: 2015[3] PFA Portuguese Manager of the Year: 2017 LMA Performances of the Week:[A] 2 December 2017 (Arsenal 1–3 Man.Utd),[245] 7 April 2018 (Man.City 2–3 Man.Utd)[246]
  25. Less than a year ago, Antonio Conte famously said "I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and lose 3-0 or 4-0." After the 6-0 beatdown that Pep Guardiola's crew inflicted on Chelsea Sunday, you wonder if it makes Maurizio Sarri "stupid" -- at least on the Conte-meter. And because too many people like simple, ready-made storylines, they jumped on that, as well as the always reliable tropes about N'Golo Kante not playing defensive midfield and Sarri's like-for-like substitutions. Indeed, Chelsea set up to play an aggressive high press, hoping to catch Manchester City off-guard, which is risky by its very nature. But that's not why they got spanked. They lost because they switched off defensively, not because they were too open or inflexible. The first goal came off a free kick, with Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso not noticing the runner down the right flank. The second was an absolute world-class, long-range finish from Sergio Aguero, the sort you can't really do much about. The third was a horrendous back header from Ross Barkley that was easy prey for the lurking Aguero and on the fourth, Kepa really should have done better. All of that happened in the first 25 minutes. When you're 4-0 down at that stage away from home against Manchester City, you're pretty much done. None of those goals had anything to do with Chelsea's high press, Kante's positioning or Sarri's substitutions. They had to do with something for which Sarri hasn't had much criticism this season but is as much of an issue as his problems further up the pitch: the back four. (You can throw in the last goal as well: it involved a beautiful sweeping piece of passing, but something you'd expect a well-drilled backline to deal with.) In addition to some built-in limits -- Marcos Alonso is a fine attacking wingback but struggles in a back four in terms of quickness and nous, while Cesar Azpilicueta is having a horrendous campaign in his first year back out wide -- there was a shocking lack of basics on display. Sarri needs to get that part right as much as he needs to get the press working at the other end, which looked way too tentative and disjointed (a bit like against Arsenal). You can debate his philosophy all you like, but this is why he's there. This is what the club wanted after 16 years of safety-first managers (with the exception of Andre Villas-Boas' brief stint in charge). As Gary Neville pointed out, it would be foolish to try and change this now. If it doesn't work, get a different manager or get different players; in that sense, with Willian, Pedro, Hazard, Olivier Giroud, Kovacic, David Luiz, Higuain all out of contract either this summer or next, they should have room to manoeuvre. But expecting Sarri to change is a bit like going to a sushi restaurant and ordering shepherd's pie. The above is not meant to absolve Sarri, of course. Not at all. Part of his job is getting his message across to the players and getting them to execute, and that isn't happening. In fact, against City it didn't happen at both ends of the pitch, which is an even greater concern. His insistence on working with a small nucleus of players -- he said it was something he learned from Guardiola, who once claimed "you can only work with 14 players in your first season, otherwise it's impossible" -- has boomeranged badly and it's hard to believe people like Andreas Christensen, Emerson, Ethan Ampadu or Callum Hudson-Odoicouldn't have absorbed his message better if given the chance. Sarri operated pretty much the same way at Napoli where, as the joke went, in Serie A at least, he always played the same lineup and the Piotr Zielinski for Marek Hamsik substitution was that year's version of Kovacic-for-Barkley. (In the cup competitions he made wholesale changes, just like he is now.) The fact that he hasn't moved on from this even a smidgeon is an indictment. Still, Chelsea are one point out of fourth place and are still competing for three cup competitions, one of which will get them back in the Champions League. This is not the time to tear up the blueprint. They opted for the unconventional and they're getting it. Ride it out, see where you are and then draw your conclusions. This is most likely what you expect they will do, too, given the fact that Roman Abramovich seems less preoccupied with the club than at any time since acquiring it back in 2003.