Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri stuck in no-win situation

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri gestures on the touchline during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri gestures on the touchline during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images) /

A number of factors have Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri stuck between a rock and a hard place with no feasible solution in sight.

Chelsea’s loss in the Carabao Cup against Manchester City was a microcosm of their season so far. With all their issues, both inside and outside the pitch, the club find themselves in an unenviable position with the fate of their manager, Maurizio Sarri, up in the air. But problems with their manager may be the least of their worries.

Kepa refusing to subbed off in the dying minutes of extra-time and Sarri going ballistic encapsulated the turmoil currently going on at Chelsea and the club have themselves to blame. During the whole dust-up, as Sarri was making his way down the Wembley tunnel, it seemed that he was quitting on the spot. While that probably would have made a certain section of Chelsea fans happy, it would have been a blow to Chelsea.

Chelsea are no strangers to firing managers but with money seemingly drying up at Chelsea and Roman Abramovich nowhere in sight, having to pay out the rest of Sarri’s contract is something the club can’t afford to do. They did it with Jose Mourinho and faced a lawsuit from Antonio Conte after the Italian manager was fired. The merry-go-round at the club can no longer go on if they want to build some sort of stable culture.

Also, the argument could be made that the higher-ups at the club are responsible for where they find themselves. They are the ones who appointed Sarri a few weeks prior to the season giving the former Napoli manager little time to prepare for the season with a squad who despite showing positive signs at the beginning of the season, look unable to adapt to the style of play the manager wants.

Even if they do pull the trigger and fire Sarri, which manager in their right mind would want to take that job?

The market for big name managers is scarce and Chelsea find themselves as in a situation where they are not an attractive option at the moment. The transfer ban handed down by FIFA means that they cannot register a player for the next two transfer windows meaning if Sarri remains in charge, he’s stuck with the same squad and Christian Pulisic once he comes back from his loan at Borussia Dortmund.

In addition to not being able to sign players, there are questions about players in the squad like Eden Hazard and Callum Hudson-Odoi with the former looking to make a move to Real Madrid and the latter being pursued by Bayern Munich. They have a large number of players out on loan and it’s uncertain how much of an upgrade they would be compared to what they already have.

Why this is a no-win situation for Chelsea is that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they ultimately decide to fire Sarri, it’s an example of their failure in terms of planning after firing Conte who they knew they were going to get rid of long before they actually made their decision. If they don’t fire him then they have to back him amidst the fallout of the Kepa incident. If a player who is new at the club can disregard the manager’s orders, it does not bode well for the manager and has the potential of causing a rift in the dressing room with players taking sides. It also means that it may be unlikely that they improve if Sarri stays on because it will roughly be the same squad of players and they’ve already proven that they can’t cut it.

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It is a situation that Chelsea really have not found themselves in since Abramovich took over. Chelsea have already appealed the transfer ban and with proceedings taking a long time like it did in the cases against Barcelona and Real Madrid, they may be able to skirt their ban and push it to the winter transfer window rather than in the summer. With Manchester City and Liverpool establishing themselves at the top for years to come, Tottenham close to getting there, and Manchester United and Arsenal taking steps in the right direction, it may be some dark times ahead for Chelsea.