Chelsea could win the Europa League and finish fourth and STILL sack Maurizio Sarri
A large chunk of the Chelsea faithful – though not all of them – have made it clear they do not want the Italian any more, and they don’t like his football.
That was all too clear at Cardiff on Sunday as they sang “We want Sarri out”, and once again “F*** Sarri-ball,” among other chants.
For the first time for many years there could be empty seats at Stamford Bridge, such is the strength of feeling against the Italian.
As of today there were tickets available on general sale for next Monday’s Premier League match against West Ham, and the Europa League quarter final home clash against Slavia Prague.
Not since the fans turned against Rafa Benitez in his spell in charge which ended with a top four place and a Europa League win in 2013, has there been such strength of feeling against a Chelsea manager.
And Benitez was different – he was a former Liverpool manager stepping into the job who had made apparently disparaging comments about their fans while in charge at Anfield.
Sarri had no such baggage when he took over in July.
But, on Tuesday, Sarri made the first move in what might already be a vain attempt to win over those fans.
Pledging that Callum Hudson-Odoi will start against Brighton on Wednesday night, and possibly against West Ham.
That might placate a section of the supporters who have been calling for the 18 year old new England star to be given his chance in the Premier League after impressive performamces in Europe and in the cups.
Will it be enough though? Doubtful.
Sarri today made it crystal clear that he is not going to change his methods, and that he still believes in them.
So Jorginho will still be the focal point of his midfield, which means that N’Golo Kante will still be played out of position on the right – and the short passing keep-ball style is here to stay.
Chelsea after all, if they beat Brighton on Wednesday, could find themselves in fourth place in the league if out of form Tottenham slip up against Crystal Palace.
And if they beat Slavia Prague over two legs, they will be in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
That is the minimum requirement for the Italian now – a top four place and winning the Europa League.
He is likely to limp on to the end of the season now, even though he was close to the sack after the FA Cup exit against Manchester United, barring a disastrous set of league results meaning the top four is out of reach, and a European exit.
Even achieving those two targets might not save the 60-year-old from the Roman Abramovich axe though, if he cannot win back the fans.
Today he made the first step with Hudson-Odoi. But he needs to do a great deal more.