Europa League win eases pressure on Maurizio Sarri


Chelsea manager, who has come under increasing pressure, Monday’s FA Cup defeat by Manchester United was a nadir.

Blues fans criticised his tactics, jeered his predictable substitutions and even joined in with the visiting supporters’ chorus of “you’re getting sacked in the morning”.

Thankfully for Sarri, the 3,500 Malmo followers who were otherwise raucous and knew a few choice English phrases, didn’t know that particular ditty.

On a night when it felt like Sarri’s changes to the team owed more to Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City than actually taking on board any criticism, he did start crowd favourite Callum Hudson-Odoi – and praised the teenager afterwards.

The 60-year-old Italian, who has denied a report in his home country that he has held talks about taking charge of Roma next season, could also use Olivier Giroud’s breakthrough goal as ‘exhibit A’ in defence of his methods.

And he might like to highlight that he has a better record at Chelsea than Pep Guardiola had in his first season at Manchester City. Sarri has won 28 of his first 43 matches in England; the Spaniard had won 27 at the same stage.

But it seems there is still disagreement over Jorginho, who has become a lightning rod for criticism of his ‘Sarri-ball’ tactics, and was booed when he came on as a substitute.

Sarri, though, said his team’s poor start was down to the Brazilian not being on the pitch.

Asked what would happen if his side started in the same fashion against Manchester City on Sunday, opponents who beat them 6-0 in the Premier League earlier this month, he said: “Disaster.”

He added: “In the first 30 minutes we understood why Jorginho is very important for our team. We were in trouble exiting from our half. We played without confidence, we were nervous and we were unable to move the ball very fast. I hope that our fans will understand that he is a very important player.”

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