“I want my Chelsea back”: Anguished open letter as Sarri fails to win over fans

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is seen in the stand prior to the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge on December 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is seen in the stand prior to the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge on December 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

Chelsea still have two roads open to next year’s Champions League, but with Maurizio Sarri in charge, the best days well and truly belong to the past.

I am not a fan of Maurizio Sarri, the man. I am not particularly enamored by Maurizio Sarri, the manager, either. I did not waste hours of my valuable time on this earth watching clips of Napoli on YouTube, with one hand in my trousers. I do not claim to understand what a regista is or what a player in that position is supposed to do. Even now, I have no clue what Sarrismo or Sarriball actually is, even though I have read various fanatical Sarritologists offer their own interpretations of the “philosophy”. But what I do know is Maurizio Sarri has sucked the joy out of watching Chelsea play.

With the misfortune of being born a few thousand miles from where “real supporters” live, the only way I can follow Chelsea is on television. So, of course, my opinion may not hold as much sway as those who follow Chelsea over land and sea, get drunk, start brawls, do a teensy bit of racism, shame the club, and get the book thrown at them. But I’ll go ahead and offer it anyway.

Maurizio Sarri has puffed away everything Chelsea used to stand for. The fighting spirit is gone, turned to ashes.

The favoritism in team selection is nauseating. The reluctance to use Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi, unless forced, smacks of reverse ageism and utter carelessness.

N’Golo Kante, a World Cup winner and two-time Premier League champion, finds himself thrown under the bus every so often because he is not Jorginho. The Blues have £100 million worth of strikers out on loan while Sarri’s second-favourite, Gonzalo Higuain, stinks the place up.

There is unrest and anger in the stands. Match-going fans (i.e., supporters) have, more than once, implored Sarriball to go forth and multiply. It’s a good thing Sarri doesn’t care about the fans’ opinions, otherwise he’d be defecating bricks right about now. Maybe it’s because Sarri knows about the card-carrying Sarritologists who will fight anyone who dares to question the guru or his principles.

Remember the story about three blind men being asked to describe an elephant? All three touch different parts of the animal, which shapes their beliefs about what an elephant must look like. They are all wrong, of course. Sarritologists are like those three blind men. None of them has a clue what Sarrismo actually means, and yet they protect it with an almost religious fervor. One can only hope that, deep down, even they must know the emperor has no clothes.

The excuses in defence of Sarri and Sarrismo are drying up, and they’re drying up fast. With Sarri admitting Chelsea suffered against Slavia Praha, the Sarritologists’ favorite insult – Antonio Conte’s “Sufferball” – has come back to bite them in the butt.

If it weren’t so tragic, it would be hilarious. But hey, that’s what trusting a faulty process gets you.

As for me, I no longer look forward to a game and that is because I already know how it will unfold. I’ve watched the same story told many times over the course of this season, I can write it on my own, off the top of my head. As can most of those who have watched Chelsea for more than a couple of seasons.

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Most of us can predict the first substitution, right down to the minute it will happen. Some of us can even lay down the opposition’s plan to handle Jorginho, even if Sarri finds himself unable to do so. A lot of us can see where the game is going within the first 15 minutes, when Chelsea keep the ball but do nothing with it. While they seem to spend ages mapping a route to the opposition’s goal, the opposition can get to Chelsea’s box with one long-ball, launched straight as the crow flies. That usually results in Kepa Arrizabalaga bailing the side out, or picking the ball out of his net. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And yet, we come back next week to go through all of it, all over again. It is a joyless experience, a force of habit, a blood pact that cannot be broken. A loss is disheartening, but no longer shocking. A win is pleasing, but no longer thrilling.

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There is a general sense of apathy surrounding the club and amongst saner supporters at the moment. I do not want to wallow in this apathy. I do not want to suffer with the ball. I especially do not want to trust the process. I just want my Chelsea back.