Maurizio Sarri 'not sure' of long-term future at Chelsea
LONDON -- Maurizio Sarri said he is working on the assumption that he will remain Chelsea head coach "for a long time" but conceded he has received no assurances about of his future.
Chelsea's 2-0 defeat against Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round intensified speculation about Sarri's job security, with large sections of Stamford Bridge showing open hostility towards the Italian during and after the match.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Sarri now faces a defining week in his Chelsea career, with the next two matches -- against Malmo in the Europa League round of 32 and Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final -- likely to play a key role in deciding whether he survives his first season at Stamford Bridge.
"I have to think that I will be the manager of Chelsea for a long time, otherwise I cannot work," Sarri said. "I am not sure [it will work], but I have to think this. I have to work, and I want to work with a long-term target."
The loss to United was Chelsea's fifth defeat in 12 matches across all competitions in 2019 -- a run that has seen them drop to sixth in the Premier League table and put the club's hopes of Champions League qualification in significant doubt.
Sarri played down Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck's decision to accompany the squad to Sweden for the first leg of the Malmo tie last week, but admitted that he has not spoken to owner Roman Abramovich or director Marina Granovskaia about his future recently.
Key to supporter frustration with Sarri has been his reluctance to move away from his favoured 4-3-3 system or drop underperforming players in his regular starting XI, but the Italian offered no encouragement that change is imminent.
"The system is a false problem," he insisted. "I know very well that, when we lose, [they say] I have to put a striker on the pitch. When we win, I have to put a defender on the pitch. But I want to see the football in another way."
Asked about whether recent individual errors in games could prompt him to try different players in his system, Sarri replied: "Maybe, but at the moment we are making mistakes with a lot of players. Everybody sooner or later was involved in a mistake. So I think we need more to change the mentality than the players."
Chelsea have minor injury concerns about Davide Zappacosta (fever), Pedro Rodriguez (strong stomach ache) and Kepa Arrizabalaga (hamstring), though Sarri is hopeful that the latter could still recover in time to face City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
Sarri also remains optimistic that his team could yet find the results on the pitch to lift the toxic atmosphere around the club.
"Of course, in this moment, it's very difficult to think that we are able to win three or four matches in a row," he said. "But, in football, everything can change in one day. I think that we need, first of all, a good performance. A good result. Then, with more confidence, we are able to do everything."