Maurizio Sarri Once Again Criticises Chelsea's Mentality After Everton Defeat

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 17, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: Chelsea manager \ head coach Maurizio Sarri during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 First Leg match between Chelsea and Dynamo Kyiv at Stamford Bridge on March 7, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Maurizio Sarri has again questioned the mentality of his players following their 2-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday, a loss that left them sixth in the Premier League.

The Blues boss said after Chelsea's record 6-0 defeat to Manchester City in February that he felt his players' problems were "mental," a phrase he repeated Sunday to Sky Sports following their first loss in six games.

When asked if he could have done anything different tactically in the second half to change the result, Sarri replied, "Tactically, if you don't play, you don't play! With every system. We changed the system, but it was the same. It's very difficult. I think that the problem was mental. So, if you have a mental problem, suddenly on the pitch the system, the tactics is not enough."

“I’m worried about our mentality,” Sarri also told Sam Lovett of the Independent. “I think the situation is clear. We played probably the best 45 minutes of the season then, suddenly, at the beginning of the second half, we stopped playing. I don’t know why."

Chelsea were dominant during the opening 45 minutes at Goodison Park, which Sarri referred to as their best first half of the season so far. The visitors were unlucky not to boast a two- or three-goal lead at the interval, with Eden Hazard hitting the woodwork. 

Marco Silva's Everton gained in confidence toward the end of the period, however, and second-half strikes from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson—a penalty—left Chelsea stranded in their bid for a top-four finish.

Sarri said in his post-match press conference that he thought his team had reached the limit, via Hayters TV:

Hayters TV @HaytersTV

"At the moment, this is our limit!" 😳 Maurizio Sarri launches stinging attack on the mentality of his @ChelseaFC players after defeat at @Everton further dents top-four hopes 😡🚫 #EVECHE #CFC 🔵⚽️ Full press conference 👉 https://t.co/wRPn5ZuNik https://t.co/KKiZbMYl3W

Chelsea beat Dynamo Kiev 5-0 on Thursday (8-0 on aggregate) to advance to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, where they'll face Slavia Prague. The continental competition now looks like the west Londoners' best chance of qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League.

The club had only two days off before Sunday's trip, but Marcos Alonso, N'Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger were the only players retained in their XI.

The Italian chief went into finer detail regarding his theory over Chelsea's second-half collapse on Merseyside, via ESPN FC's Liam Twomey:

Liam Twomey @liam_twomey

Sarri: "It's impossible that the problem is a physical problem. if it is you go down gradually, not in one second. It's difficult for the players to explain to me the change & it's difficult for me to explain to you" #cfc

It was only three weeks ago that goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga heaped unwanted attention on his manager by refusing to come off in extra time during Chelsea's Carabao Cup final loss to Manchester City.

Sarri had a short pre-season after litigation was required to execute his departure from Napoli last summer. One Chelsea fan told BBC 5 Live Sport he had sympathy for the tactician: 

BBC 5 Live Sport @5liveSport

"I actually feel sorry for Sarri - he doesn't really seem to know what's going on." Beaten 2-0 at Everton this afternoon to further damage their chances of securing a top four spot. Is it Europa League or bust for #CFC? #BBC606 https://t.co/sAN4psWDXe

Any sense of unrest among the players at Stamford Bridge may not be improved by another public critique of their mentality.

Chelsea have a fortnight until they're scheduled to return to action away to Cardiff City on March 31.