Chelsea winger Pedro has said he and his team-mates are struggling to implement the tactics of manager Maurizio Sarri as the Blues continue their slide.
The west London team has lost three of its last four Premier League matches, including an embarrassing 6-0 defeat at Manchester City. Criticism has been fierce, with many questioning the "Sarri-ball" tactics.
Pedro told The Independent (h/t Football Italia) in an interview published on Thursday the tactics are difficult to work with but added it's normal for new coaches to struggle:
"All the team follows the idea of Maurizio: press really high, stay compact, and to create chances.
"With good possession, a lot of the ball. We can do this as a team. But sometimes it's so difficult to play in this way. It depends upon the opponents. [...]
"I think it is always difficult for every manager, when you arrive with good motivation and ambition.
"It's not just in the Chelsea dressing room. For all coaches, it's difficult. It's not good for [Sarri] and the team because the results have not been good, but it's good for us to change this dynamic now."
Sarri left Napoli for Chelsea in the summer after guiding the Partenopei to three consecutive top-three finishes, including a 2017-18 season that saw his side compile 91 points in second place behind Juventus. A lack of silverware had some fans concerned he wouldn't be able to replicate his feats at Stamford Bridge, and things have turned sour after a promising start.
The Blues have slid to sixth place in the standings, and their bad run of form has led to speculation Sarri could already be on the way out:
With 45 goals scored in the Premier League so far, the Blues' attack has been significantly worse than those of their main rivals. A lack of creativity and penetration have been among the main points of criticism.
It hasn't been all bad, and Sarri appears to have the full backing of the players. Star winger Eden Hazard enjoys the brand of football that the Italian preaches:
Kristof Terreur 📰🎥 @HLNinEngeland
Eden Hazard: “All the managers I’ve played for have given me something. Jose Mourinho was special, but the way Maurizio Sarri and Rudi Garcia like to play is more like my philosophy of football, but they’ve all given me a lot.” (@chelseafc) #CFC https://t.co/ggEEhcm5vY
While the run of poor results was unexpected, on-pitch struggles were always likely. Sarri's style is unlike anything the players have experienced before, and it was always going to take time for the Italian to fully implement his philosophy.
City manager Pep Guardiola remains a fan and believes he needs more time:
Top clubs in the Premier League who vie for silverware every season tend not to be patient. The Blues have never been afraid to pull the plug on a project early; they sacked Antonio Conte just one season after winning the title in his debut campaign to make room for Sarri.
The Blues are in Sweden to face Malmo in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday in what looks to be a crucial fixture for Sarri's future.