Former Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola has revealed that some of the Blues’ top stars ended up feeling bored by Maurizio Sarri’s training methods.
Sarri’s Chelsea enjoyed a fantastic start to the 2018/19 campaign, and after avoiding defeat in their first 12 games, they were seen as outsiders in the Premier League title race. However, that form did not last, and Chelsea ended up narrowly coming out on top in a battle for a spot in the top four.
Chelsea v Arsenal – UEFA Europa League Final
Famous 4-0 and 6-0 losses to Bournemouth and Manchester City respectively were prime examples of how the mood at Stamford Bridge had soured, and Zola told beIN Sports‘ Keys & Gray Show that Sarri’s repetitive training methods ultimately left the squad struggling for motivation.
“At the beginning the players were very much behind everything that we were saying, they were brilliant,” Zola said.
“They were following everything, but then as the weeks passed due to the repetition and the amount of games they were playing, the players got tired and they also got bored in a way.
“But boring is part of our job. Sometimes you need to get bored but when you get bored you persist in what you’re doing and you get better.
“They were talented players, like [Eden] Hazard and Willian, players who know how to win games on their own, but they were suffering from the type of exercises and type of training we were doing – but it was necessary for the others.
“I’ll be honest, they were brilliant because they got bored, but they kept doing it throughout and that was the reason why when everyone was dropping we were going up towards the end.”
Not only did player performances drop, but fan support also began to waiver and supporters could be heard voicing their frustration towards Sarri’s tactics during games. Zola added that it eventually became obvious that the current Juventus boss would not see another season as the club.
Chelsea fans loudly sing “F*** Sarri-ball” as Hazard comes on for Pedro.
— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) March 31, 2019
“When we played away in Cardiff [on 31 March], it was the first time that the supporters turned against us,” Zola explained. “It’s the first time I’ve heard the supporters turning against a coach.
“We were losing 1-0 and it was going very bad, and that’s the moment I felt we were in danger, because the situation wasn’t good at that moment and the supporters were against us.”