Chelsea assistant coach Gianfranco Zola believes Pep Guardiola‘s success at Manchester City didn’t just happen overnight but have once had early difficulties and encourage Chelsea to give Maurizio Sarri time.
Three defeats in four Premier League games — culminating in last weekend’s 6-0 embarrassing defeat to Manchester City — have put the former Napoli Manager under intense pressure to reinvigorate Chelsea’s faltering challenge for a top-four finish.
Guardiola defended Sarri after the match at the Etihad Stadium, and Zola suggested City’s Premier League title triumph last season was something the Chelsea boss could emulate if given the chance to fully implement his style.
“Two years ago, you were probably asking the same questions to Pep Guardiola,
“You were asking if he’d keep playing from the back all the time. He said this was not in discussion and is part of my game, even in the difficult moments.
“Maybe he adapted. He has improved a lot in that, because he got his team defending better and pressing better, attacking better. He has adjusted something but not the way he saw football.
“You admire what Pep has done. Certainly, he’s a good inspiration. Not everything comes together straight away.”
Sarri’s unwillingness to depart from his conventional 4-3-3 formation, and his tendency to make favourable substitutions even when his team are losing, have exasperated some Chelsea fans.
Zola said: “How do you know we are not making changes? We are adjusting a few things.
There are questions about what we’re doing, a lot of doubts, but we are trying to adapt to the league. But we don’t change what we believe is good for this club, because otherwise we are nothing.”
Chelsea’s recent uninspiring form has coincided with reports of player unrest over Sarri’s management style, tactical and training methodologies, but Zola insists he did not expect the former Napoli coach to change his methods.
“You know Maurizio — he’s very straightforward,” .
“He says what he thinks. That’s the way he is. Sometimes he’s strong in what he says, but always very honest.
“He works a lot on his football. He’s very passionate about it. The more you know him, the more you like it. Sometimes he’s strong and doesn’t go round the corner. He goes straight to the point.”