Jorginho role at heart of growing scrutiny of Sarri tactics

Under pressure: Chelsea midfielder Jorginho is pressed by David Brook’s during Bournemouth’s impressive victory on Wednesday night. Photo: Getty Images

 Maurizio Sarri's over-reliance on midfielder Jorginho is under scrutiny and fears are growing that the head coach's position at Chelsea will come under threat if he does not quickly find a Plan B.

The Italian has told his players that they have not even picked up the basics of his "Sarriball" philosophy and pointed the finger at, among others, Eden Hazard for failing to follow instructions.

Sarri also questioned himself during the post-match dressing-room inquest that lasted almost an hour after the humiliating 4-0 thrashing at Bournemouth, which was the club's worst Premier League defeat of the Roman Abramovich era.

Rather than ranting and raving at his squad, he picked apart their woeful performance in a measured and composed manner, demonstrating his anger with his no-holds-barred assessment.

Hazard is understood to be among the players Sarri singled out for criticism, as he accused the Belgian of playing how he wanted to, rather than doing what he had been asked.

Sarri requested observations from his players and asked whether they thought he could be doing anything better.

There is a belief inside the dressing room that Sarri's approach is too dependent on summer-signing Jorginho and that opposition teams have worked them out.

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said as much. When asked what he told his team at half-time, he replied: "If we don't have the ball, don't worry. I don't think I have said that many times while managing Bournemouth."

Despite the fact his talent is widely recognised, Jorginho is in danger of becoming viewed as something of a teacher's pet to Sarri, such is the 60-year-old's obsession with him.

Sarri successfully based his approach around the Italy international at Napoli, but the tactic has become too easy for Premier League opponents to pick apart.


Following the defeat at Arsenal, Sarri insisted that he would not change and that he would continue to teach his way of playing football.

He has also claimed that he would not alter the formation until his players could operate at 100 per cent in his 4-3-3.

Chelsea owner Abramovich talked tactics with Sarri before appointing him and is acutely aware of his philosophy, but he will expect the Premier League campaign to get back on track against Huddersfield Town tomorrow.

The fact Sarri has admitted that his players are yet even to pick up the basics of his Sarriball methods would suggest that he could run out of time if he continues to stick stubbornly to his Plan A. Asked why Sarriball was not working, he replied: "We haven't even learnt the most basic moves yet. We need to work on the basics, the primary foundations of my football, and only then will we try to change a few things."

Sarri also suggested that his record-breaking 12-game unbeaten start in the Premier League with Chelsea papered over cracks by adding: "We had assumed that we learnt a certain style of football, but the truth is we never did learn it and are paying the consequences."

Other than worrying about his tactics and team selections, some players believe Sarri's training is too repetitive as he attempts to drill his style of play into them.

Those who have rarely been used this season have also felt ignored at the Cobham training ground, with Sarri admitting that he was following the advice of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola by only working to improve 14 of his players during his first 12 months.

"For him [Guardiola], it's impossible to improve, in the first season, 20 players," said Sarri in December.

"He told me, in the first season, you have to work only on 14 players, otherwise you are in trouble.

"You need too much time to improve all the squad. In England, it's difficult."

Sarri certainly seems to be working by that theory as only 14 of his players have played more than 500 minutes in the Premier League this season, with seven of those playing more than 2,000 minutes already.

Chelsea have backed Sarri by signing striker Gonzalo Higuain, who excelled under him at Napoli, on loan until the end of the season with the option of a 12-month extension or permanent move.

The success or failure of Higuain could go a long way to determining Sarri's own future and yet, worryingly, he has admitted the 31-year-old is not fit. "He can improve a great deal," said Sarri.

"At this moment, he is not in good shape, probably because he has played very little recently between transfer market distractions and back pain. He can grow a great deal over the next few weeks."

That leaves a question mark over why Sarri started with Higuain over Olivier Giroud - who brought out the best in Hazard in the Carabao Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur - against Bournemouth.

Sarri travelled back from Bournemouth in a car with one of his coaches, away from the squad, so he could get straight to work on yesterday's training session.

He met with the players ahead of afternoon training, in which the mood was said to be businesslike.

Asked what happened in the dressing room at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday night, captain Cesar Azpilicueta said: "We spoke as men between the manager and the players, We are very angry. It is unacceptable for Chelsea and we have to find the solutions.

"We have to be more consistent because 10 days ago we lost against Arsenal, we had a bad game there, then we played two good games in the cup. To drop back again is really frustrating."