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  • By Paul Lagan

Sarri: I don’t think it is risky to criticise my players

Maurizio Sarri Photo by Paul Lagan

Maurizio Sarri is unrepentant about the stinging criticism he levelled at his players regarding their lack of a tough mentality.

The Blues succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hand of chasing Arsenal on Saturday, and he admitted that he is not for changing.

So, was it a risky strategy to be so outspoken?

“I don’t know,” he said. “It is my character, though. I don’t think it is risky. These guys have a sensible head on their shoulders, so I don’t think I am risking anything. I said the players are difficult to motivate but by the same token there are players who are sensible, who will listen and won’t take it the wrong way.

“There might be a slight risk, but I don’t think there is. This is my character - I am a straight talker. This is how I speak. Yes, sometimes when you speak in that way it might cause some upset or some conflict, but it doesn’t cause any lingering bitterness.”

The fear of a dressing room revolt means that Sarri will be looking to his experience players - the leaders - to come to the fore and show their character.

“I think we probably do have leaders,” said the Italian.

“I think we might even have someone who is capable of embodying the characteristics I have talked about.

“Of course there is always a danger a leader emerges who is a bad leader - who doesn’t necessarily do the kind of things that I want the team to do. Nevertheless I do think we need to change the mentality and I do think within the group of players we do have that ability and the characteristics to change.”

Chelsea’s previous head coach Antonio Conte lost 3-0 at the Emirates but immediately changed tactics, will he do the same.

“I can remember exactly what happened,” said Sarri.

“But with my team I think it is different because with Conte at the time was using a three-man defence and changed to a four-man defence. But he was used to doing that anyway, so it wasn’t quite the same, whereas this is the football I have.

“I am a good teacher of this football. I don’t think it would be a good idea if I try to teach my players a different type of football.

“There will be some changes perhaps but there will be no massive upheaval.”

So what can the players expect in training this week as they prepare for Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Spurs.

“I am pretty consistent in my approach in that I like there to be a good atmosphere,” he said.

“I like it when the players are enjoying themselves because if they are enjoying themselves out on the pitch there is more chance that they are going to be winning and that is an enjoyable experience as well.

“Nevertheless I am demanding in the sense that we need to have the right attitude and approach and we need to be able to show exactly the same or even better level of determination than our opponents.

“When I came here certainly I realised the group had a huge amount of potential.

“There is no doubt about that. I don’t think it would be correct for me to talk about being disappointed with what I found when I arrived.

“When I arrived, of course, I knew the team was coming off the back of a pretty disappointing season. Over the last couple of years they have a lost some really important points of reference for the club. But certainly the team has a lot of potential.”

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