Gianfranco Zola Compares Maurizio Sarri Chelsea Woes with Pep Guardiola at City

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2019

FILE PHOTO (EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF IMAGES - Image numbers 1089388290,1040951906 - GRADIENT ADDED) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City (L) and Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea.  Manchester City and Chelsea FC meet in a Premier League fixture on February 10, 2019 at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.  ***LEFT IMAGE*** SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City looks on before the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Manchester City at St Mary's Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)  ***RIGHT IMAGE*** LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea looks on ahead of the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on September 26, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

Maurizio Sarri deserves more time to make good on his Chelsea tenure, says assistant manager Gianfranco Zola, who has compared the Italian's tough start at the club with Pep Guardiola's beginnings at Manchester City

Guardiola arrived at the Etihad Stadium in 2016 but failed to win a trophy during his first season at the club as City finished third in the Premier League. Zola says Sarri is in the midst of his own revolution at Stamford Bridge and needs the same trust from his club, per ESPN FC's Liam Twomey:

"Two years ago, you were probably asking the same questions to Pep Guardiola.

"You were asking if he'd keep playing from the back all the time. He said this was not in discussion and is part of my game, even in the difficult moments.

"Maybe he adapted. He has improved a lot in that, because he got his team defending better and pressing better, attacking better. He has adjusted something but not the way he saw football.

"You admire what Pep has done. Certainly he's a good inspiration. Not everything comes together straight away."

Guardiola won the Premier League and Carabao Cup in his second season with City, but Chelsea's faith is being tested after they recently suffered a club-record 6-0 defeat at Manchester City, their third loss in four league games. The west Londoners sit sixth in the standings after going unbeaten under Sarri until late November.

The pressure appeared to be telling on Sarri immediately after that defeat, with the former Napoli chief avoiding the handshake of his City counterpart, via Soccer AM:

Soccer AM @SoccerAM

FROSTY! Maurizio Sarri wasn’t for shaking Pep Guardiola’s hand after that defeat 😬😬 https://t.co/Ozh1CAHf3a

However, Guardiola voiced a similar sentiment to Zola in the wake of that one-sided win and underlined time is needed to cultivate projects like his, via Goal's Sam Lee:

Sam Lee @Sammy_Goal

Guardiola on Sarri's situation at Chelsea: "People don't understand how difficult it is to do something. People expect a manager to arrive, or to buy players and immediately it comes. It needs time." https://t.co/Sfap0p0LYp

Granted, the City manager was afforded resources at the Etihad most managers would envy and was permitted to bring in top talents.

MailSport's Charlie Skillen commented in December that it would be folly to believe the Blues board had all of a sudden changed their approach to endure short-term pain in pursuit of long-term gain:

Charlie Skillen @charlieskillen

Unless something drastically changes, we won’t finish in the top 4. And we know what that means. You can’t pretend we’ve bought into some kind of 5-year Sarri ‘project’ when we have 15 years of evidence to the contrary

Chelsea have garnered a reputation for their fast managerial turnover during the reign of owner Roman Abramovich, who took over in 2003 and has appointed 13 new managers (for 10 games or more) since then.

Zola may liken Sarri and Guardiola with one another, but journalist Vaishali Bhardwaj looked at some ways in which Chelsea's defeat at City may have exposed some key differences:

Vaishali Bhardwaj @VaiBhardwaj

He has also alienated young players such as Hudson-Odoi and Christensen - players who are the future for #CFC - by placing far too much trust in and showing patience with players such as Alonso even when they haven't been consistent enough to warrant starting every game. (Cont)

Chelsea's next chance to prove Sarri's methods are working comes at home to Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday evening.