Since Roman Abramovich arrived in London, Chelsea have experienced huge success. That is if you base success purely on trophies. However, with Chelsea enduring yet another typical difficult patch, Maurizio Sarri has since questioned his own ability to motivate his players, but this time the players are being questioned as well.
Chelsea’s 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth was, in the grand scheme of things, not a total surprise. Yes the loss was heavy, but the Blues’ poor form, matched with Bournemouth’s energy and bravery going forward, was always likely to lead to a home victory. Questions are now being asked about Sarri’s position at Chelsea, and his potential dismissal would only continue the hiring-firing trend that the club have adopted over the years.
The reality is, though, Chelsea remain the most successful football club in England of the past 10 years. That is, as mentioned, if you only consider trophies. For many, success includes the development of young talent – like Marcus Rashford – or the incredible growth and sustained Premier League appearances of Bournemouth.
But based on trophies, Chelsea’s model has worked wonders, but it shouldn’t. Everything a football fan, coach or analyst believes about successful footballing greats should mean Chelsea plummet into mediocrity. They shouldn’t be winning five league titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups and two European trophies since 2003. This kind of success is believed to be built on consistency, an identity and culture, and a support system that filters through the club.
Chelsea lack any of the mentioned above. As we’re seeing now, the players seem to be demotivated and turning on Sarri after adopting his tactics and approach so effortlessly earlier this season. Quite simply, they look as if they can choose where and when they want to turn it on and have the confidence that the blame will never fall on them.
As a club Chelsea have developed next-to-no young players, and haven’t stuck with a manager for more than two-and-a-half years, including their three-time title winner and club legend Jose Mourinho. Their managers have embraced a mixed bag of defensive and pragmatic approaches with attacking and modern footballing philosophies, and every year the same group of players seem to be getting completely different instructions.
Eden Hazard can be the best player in the world and the most frustrating one in the same season. His relentless talk about a move to Real Madrid goes unchecked because he has too much power, to the point where he’s now claiming to “not care” about his manager’s comments. Can this model really be sustained?
Perhaps this is a footballing culture in its own right. For some this kind of success will wither out after so long, but at the moment it seems Chelsea will always find a way to claw themselves back into contention despite everything suggesting that it simply shouldn’t work. So if they were to sack Sarri, who’s to tell Chelsea that they’re wrong to do so when their past suggests otherwise.