LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is planning for the long-term despite the club’s fans booing his side during Monday’s FA Cup defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge which has fanned media speculation about his future.
“I have to think that I will be the manager of Chelsea for a long time, otherwise I cannot work… I’m not sure but I have to think this,” Sarri told a news conference ahead of the League Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.
Chelsea had looked like title contenders when the Italian guided them to a 12-game unbeaten Premier League run but six defeats in their last 14 league games — including a 6-0 reverse at champions City — has seen the club drop out of the top four.
The 2-0 defeat by United that saw holders Chelsea exit the FA Cup in the fifth round led some supporters to chant that their coach faced being “sacked in the morning” just seven months after Sarri arrived at the club.
“As you know it’s not easy as we have no time, we are trying to solve our problems. It’s not easy because we have to play every three days so we have no time on the pitch,” said Sarri who has not had any talks with the club’s owners this week.
Sarri has refused to tweak his 4-3-3 system and possession-based style known as ‘Sarri-ball’, which has come under scrutiny in recent weeks and on Monday saw the fans resort to expletives to voice their mounting disapproval of his tactical approach.
“The system is a false problem,” the 60-year-old added.
“I know very well that when we lose I have to put a striker on the pitch. When we win I have to put a defender on the pitch. But I want to see football in another way.”
When asked what he could do to restore the supporters’ faith in his tactical methods, Sarri said: “It’s very easy: we need to win three or four matches in a row.
“I can understand very well the frustration of our fans because they are used to winning.
“Of course, in this moment, it’s very difficult… But, in football, everything can change in one day.”
Chelsea host Malmo in a Europa League last 32 return game on Thursday, holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Sweden.
Italian full back Davide Zappacosta (illness) and winger Pedro (stomach problem) are unlikely to be involved, while goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has a hamstring problem.
Sarri is uncertain whether Kepa will recover in time to face City at Wembley this weekend, which could mean a chance for Willy Caballero to deputise against his former club.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Ken Ferris)