Maurizio Sarri has endured a bumpy ride throughout winter.
The Chelsea boss - who started his debut Premier League season with an unbeaten run of 18 matches - can’t have expected the good work of his first three months in charge would unravel so quickly.
Given the Blues have slipped from third to sixth position since December, it’s easy to forget they were very much involved in a three-horse title race with Liverpool and Manchester City.
With no obvious catalyst for their rapid decline, fingers have been pointed at Sarri, his squad and individual players in search of who’s to blame.
But rather than something specific being the cause of the Blues’ woes, there’s an argument it could simply be a teething period under the guidance the current manager.
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Sarri was hired to copy and paste his philosophy from Napoli to Chelsea, with a view to playing the elusive beautiful yet formidable football that Roman Abramovich craves.
While the early signs of his tenure indicated the Premier League title could return to west London in style in his first campaign, Liverpool and City have since pulled away at the top.
So, with only the Europa League left to fight for this season, is it simply a case of Sarri-ball being an ineffective strategy to implement week in, week out on English soil?
Well, this question was put to Sarri in a recent interview with Sky Sports.
And despite expressing a determination to stick by his favourite system, the Italian admitted it’s “impossible” to know when it will fully click with the Chelsea squad.
“Sometimes three months is enough, sometimes you need one season or one season and a half. I think if you change country, change football, it is longer,” he said.
“Now I am in the first season in England, and I started to understand some things, not everything at the moment, so now I realise that here it [takes] longer, more difficult. Because the mentality is different.
“For example with an English player it is very easy to have a very good intensity during the training, but it is very difficult to have a session only about tactics.
“In Italy, it is the opposite; it is very easy to work in tactics, and very difficult to have a very great intensity during the training. It's different, not worse, not better, just different.”
The characteristics of English football took Sarri by surprise, it seems.
But, barring another knee-jerk decision from the Chelsea hierarchy, the 60-year-old should have sufficient time to make his mark on the Premier League.News Now - Sport News