'What happens if Guardiola had no time in City?' – Sarri calls for patience from Chelsea

The Blues boss revealed details from his June meeting with his fellow manager, as he called for patience after a decline in results

Maurizio Sarri has called for Chelsea’s board to be patient with him as he draws on the example of Pep Guardiola’s first season, when the Spaniard failed to win any trophies at Manchester City.

Chelsea prepare to face Man City on Saturday for the first time with Sarri as their coach, with the Italian’s side under increased pressure after back-to-back away defeats to Tottenham and Wolves.

The Blues are now on the brink of dropping out of the Champions League places ahead of the match against undefeated City, with Sarri’s men in fourth thanks to a superior goal difference over Arsenal.

Sarri thinks it was inevitable that Chelsea would suffer a blip as he overhauled their style of play and has called upon the club’s board to have patience with him. 

“You’ll have to ask the club,” Sarri said when asked if he will still be Chelsea manager at the end of the season. “I don’t know what to answer. I don’t know. What happens if Guardiola had no time in City?

“Maybe the best team in the world wasn’t City in the last year. I don’t know. It’s not my problem. My problem is to improve my players, to solve the situation, to solve problems, to try to gain a lot of points. Then there is the club that will decide what is better for them.”

Guardiola spent part of his summer holiday in Italy, where he went for dinner with Sarri and AC Milan’s legendary former manager Arrigo Sacchi.

Sarri had yet to join Chelsea as negotiations were ongoing, but the 59-year-old revealed the advice that the Man City manager gave him as they sat down at a hotel restaurant in Milan.

“He told me the first season in England is really very difficult. For him, it’s impossible to improve the first season 20 players. 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 really very difficult.

“But every history is different. You learn, of course, that the Premier League is a fantastic championship, but it’s really very difficult. Every match is difficult. Every match, also, if you are able to win, is very expensive from the mental and physical point of view.

“You have to play every three days. You have no time to work or improve the team, so it’s really a very difficult situation. You need a season just to understand the real situation here.”

Guardiola’s success has not just been built on his coaching methods, as he has also been backed by his club to the tune of around £350 million ($446m) in the transfer market while at Man City. 

However, Sarri says he isn’t pushing his club to dip into the transfer window, even as his strikers struggle to hit the same heights as those at other top-six clubs.

“At the end of the day, I can tell you the position [where I would sign a player],” Sarri added. “But, before, we need the improvement of every player in the team and then, maybe, you are able to know the right position for changing the team.

“At the moment, we have Hazard with eight goals. We have Morata with seven goals, I think in the season, not the Premier League. Giroud with four goals. Pedro with five goals. It’s important to score, of course.

“If you have a player who is able to score every match, it’s really important, but I think that’s impossible. I was really very lucky three years ago in Naples because Higuain scored 36 goals in 34 matches, but that was something exceptional.

“It’s very difficult for a striker to score in every match. Every two is possible. In every match, it’s difficult for everybody. Also for [Mohamed] Salah, but last year he scored 32 goals. So it’s very difficult. If you have a player like this, you are lucky. But if you haven’t a player able to score in every match, you have to do something else.”

That other option for Chelsea could be a tactical adjustment, but Sarri said that he is a believer in his system and is planning on sticking with it. 

“It’s very easy to change [tactics] when you have to face a difficulty. But, at the end, if you believe in a style of play, you have to improve and you have to arrive to do very well this way of football. So the target is this, not to change in every match. To change the style of football, system, players … that’s not the right solution, I think.

“We need to work, we need to improve, we need to understand very well the style of playing. We need to change the mentality, not because the old mentality was bad. But it’s not suitable with the new way of playing. Then, after all this, maybe you do need one player.

“But the market is really very important when you understand that you need only one player in one position for changing the team. But you cannot think that you can buy 11 new players without problems. If you do, the problems will be the same.

“You have to create a new mentality and a new style of playing. We need to improve. We need to arrive at 95 per cent of our potential. And then we can get the last five per cent with a new player. With a new player, not 11 new players.”

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