“F**k Sarri-ball, f**k Sarri-ball…”
We’ve heard Chelsea fans chant in protest of their manager’s uncompromising belief in his philosophy several times this season.
Certainly, the Italian tactician’s first season at Stamford Bridge has stuttered at times, but the problem is not the effectiveness of ‘Sarri-ball’.
The issue has been Sarri’s inability to implement his desired strategy.
To say it another way, the problem is not ‘Sarri-ball’, it’s that we haven’t seen it.
The Blues burst out of the gate at Stamford Bridge in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague, scoring four goals in the first 27 minutes.
The first, finished by Pedro, was evidence of what ‘Sarri-ball’ could be if Chelsea fully adopt their coach’s teachings.
A familiar sight for those who watched Napoli last season.
Critics have accused Chelsea of lacking imagination and incisiveness at times this season.
Indeed, they have been frustratingly ponderous at their worst.
But while Sarri wants his players to keep possession, he also demands quick transitions and advancements.
It may only be Slavia Prague, but neat one-twos and clever movement like that exhibited for Pedro’s opener is capable of carving open even the most resolute Premier League defences.
Optimists could make a case for the mild success of Sarri’s first season in England.
But for the penalty shootout gods, he would have a League Cup medal already.
Chelsea’s place in the last four of the Europa League is all but guaranteed.
And they could yet edge out two of Spurs, Arsenal and Man United to secure Champions League qualification via top four.
Coaches like Sarri, who believe wholeheartedly in an all-encompassing philosophy, need time to impose their grand plan.
If the club grant him patience, he could yet win over the Stamford Bridge faithful.