LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 1 – Maurizio Sarri admits Chelsea’s nightmare run has given him sleepless nights, but the Blues boss insists he will not crack under the pressure.
Sarri has found it hard to get any rest since Wednesday’s humiliating 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth as he works late into the night to find answers to Chelsea’s problems.
Poring over video of the match to analyse what went wrong, Sarri managed only a few hours’ sleep in the following two days.
“Not really very well but I tried,” he told reporters on Friday when asked if he was sleeping OK.
“It’s not easy, as you know very well, to sleep after the match. After that match (against Bournemouth) it was really very difficult, six, seven hours the last two days.”
Reeling after their worst Premier League defeat since 1996, Chelsea face struggling Huddersfield on Saturday and Sarri desperately needs a strong performance to lift the gloom around Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea dropped out of the top four following a fifth defeat in their past 12 league games, sparking reports Sarri could face the sack amid player and fan discontent at his tactics.
The 60-year-old, who only arrived from Napoli seven months ago, could be forgiven for feeling the strain.
But he is adamant he can cope after working under even greater duress in Naples.
“The level here is really high. But the level in Italy wasn’t so low,” he said.
“I think there was more pressure in Italy because Naples was the only (big) city in Italy with only one team.
“So the pressure from the Napoli fans was really a big pressure. I know very well that if I lose, my job is always at risk.
“Here at Chelsea you can win against Manchester City, but after a few days you are at risk again.”
– ‘I thrive on pressure’ –
Despite claims that his football philosophy is not ideally suited to Chelsea’s players, Sarri has no intention of ditching the game-plan that won him so many admirers during his spell at Napoli.
“At the moment? No. Because I think if I change the mentality of these players, then they are really very capable for my football,” he said.
“In the future I can change my mind? I don’t know.”
Given the demanding nature of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, it was suggested Sarri might be wise to be more flexible if he wants to avoid the fate of Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, who were both dismissed despite winning the Premier League in their previous seasons.
Sarri has yet to land a major prize in his managerial career and, while Chelsea have reached this season’s League Cup final, he could do with tangible evidence his system works.
However, on Friday he bullishly insisted he would never change his principles.
“That’s not my problem. If I am a dreamer, I am a dreamer,” he said. “If I have fun with my football, I want to play that football.
“I think with our second half (at Bournemouth) it was normal to receive criticism. We have to accept it.
“But if I believe that the organisation of the team is everything I cannot change my mind.
“I think my job is always at risk. I love my job for this reason. I thrive on pressure.”
Blaming the hectic fixture list for robbing him of valuable training time with his players, Sarri added: “Here it is very difficult to have training and improve the players.
“Since we started we have played every three days.”