Maurizio Sarri questioned his capacity to motivate a Chelsea team he claimed “stopped to play” in a 4-0 thrashing at Bournemouth but maintained he does not feel under pressure.
The former Napoli head coach kept his players in the away dressing room at the Vitality Stadium for 45 minutes after a sapping defeat on England’s south coast, banishing his coaching staff so he could address them alone.
Sarri called the Chelsea squad’s motivation into question after the 2-0 loss at Arsenal 11 days ago and, although cup wins over Tottenham and Sheffield Wednesday followed, he found himself once again picking through the bones of an unacceptable display.
“It’s very difficult to have an idea of the performance. We played very well in the first half,” he said, after Joshua King scored the first of two goals in the 47th minute, with the excellent David Brooks and substitute Charlie Daniels also getting in on the act for Bournemouth.
“In the second half we conceded the goal after two minutes and stopped to play. In the offensive phase, we played not as a team, but as individual players and did not defend. It’s hard to understand why.
“We had 43 minutes still to play, so we could solve the problem. But not with that kind of reaction. So it’s very difficult for me to understand why.
“I wanted to try to understand after the match. I spoke with the players immediately after the match, but it’s very difficult also for them to say why. So I have to try again tomorrow [Thursday] because I need to understand why, because I need to solve this problem.”
The issue of motivation was again on the agenda, with Sarri suggesting Chelsea would not collapse to such an extent against one of the Premier League’s leading lights.
“Maybe we are not in the top four of the Premier League at the moment, but we are competitive,” he said after his team slipped to fifth, below Arsenal on goals scored.
“We cannot lose 4-0 against Bournemouth. I want to respect Bournemouth, and you know I like very much the coach Eddie [Howe], but it’s impossible to lose 4-0 here.”
The 60-year-old was also prepared to accept his own culpability but does not feel his position is under threat.
“Maybe it’s my fault, maybe I’m not able to motivate them,” he added. “But the team is very strong, it is also able to win without the coach.
“I feel frustrated, not under pressure. I don’t see… I didn’t see the signal of my work. So I am frustrated.”
Sarri must hope that frustration does not soon extend to his famously trigger-happy employers.