Maurizio Sarri does not think it was a risky move to accuse his Chelsea players of being "extremely difficult to motivate" and lacked "ferocity" in their game after the tame defeat at Arsenal.
Sarri fought to contain his anger after a result that means fourth-placed Chelsea leader Arsenal and Manchester United have been cut to three points, and the Italian made it clear that he sees the problem as mentally rather than tactical, saying that there will be no drastic changes for the second place of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday.
The head coach was not in the mood to step cautiously after his team's hopes of returning to the Champions League were beaten by Arsenal, who won thanks to the goals of Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny. Sarri spoke in Italian rather than English "because I want my message very clear" and although the player's power has worked against former Chelsea leaders, the 60-year-old insisted he is not worried about bruised egos.
"It's my character," he said. "I don't think it's risky. These guys have a sensible head on their shoulders, so I don't think I'm risking anything. I said players are hard to motivate, but in the same way there are players who are sensible, who is listening and not taking it in the wrong way.
"There may be a small risk, but I don't think there is. This is my character – I'm a straight talker. That's how I speak. Yes, sometimes when you talk that way, it can cause disturbance or some conflict, but it does not cause bad bitterness. "
Sarri tried to sound positive after being asked if Chelsea has leaders." I think we probably do, "he said." I think we might have someone who is capable of embody the characteristics I have spoken of. Of course, there is always a danger, a leader emerges who is a bad leader – who does not necessarily do the kind of things I want the team to do. Nonetheless, I think we need to change the mentality and I believe within the group of players that we have this ability and capabilities to change. "
But the former Napoli leader, who arrived at Stamford Bridge, also made references to Chelsea struggling in recent years to replace senior players such as Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry.
" When I came here, I understood that the group had great potential, "he said." I don't think it would be right for me to talk about being disappointed with what I found when I arrived. When I arrived, I knew that the team was returning to a rather disappointing season. Over the past few years, they have lost some really important references for the club. "
While the discussion focused on Chelsea playing with the wrong attitude to Unai Emery's side, it was hard not to think back to Antonio Conte's reaction to a chastening defeat of Arsenal at the start of the 2016-17 season. Sarri's predecessor made changes and continued to win the league, yet the prospect of a similar tactical revolution seems unlikely.Sarri is also married to coaching his possession game. His hope is that Gonzalo Higuain's upcoming arrival on Juventus loans "I think it's different because Conte used a four-man defense and changed to a three-man defense," said Sarri. "But he was used to doing it anyway, so it wasn't quite the same, while this is the football I have. I'm a good teacher in this football. I don't think it would be a good idea if I try to teach my players another type of football. There may be some changes, but there will be no massive upheaval. "
David Luiz, who had a bad game in Chelsea's center defense, insisted that there is faith in Sarri's play style." Because of the results, if you start to change and change, you don't go anywhere , "said the Brazilian." So this is our philosophy. I believe in what I trust.
"What Sarri has done so far is unbelievable because usually a team to understand this philosophy needs one or two years, like Man City and Liverpool, who play very well with the ball now. What he has done has been great so we should try to improve the details now. Everyone is with him. "