MAURIZIO SARRI has told his vocal Chelsea critics: You’re not helping us fight for a Champions League spot.
Sarri has become the target of brutal criticism from the club’s fans unhappy at the football the Blues have been producing this season.
But the Italian is refusing to cower under chants of “f** Sarri ball* and “you don’t know what you’re doing” – and instead hit back by claiming all the supporters are doing is harming the team.
Only Manchester City have won more than Chelsea’s 33 games in all competitions this season, and Sarri admits he is puzzled at what he and his side have done wrong to deserve such stick from the stands.
The 60-year-old said: “They have to help the players during the match. After the match, they can say anything, but during the match, I hope they will be able to help my players.
“It’s not helpful for my players. For me, it’s not a big problem. I’m not happy, but it’s not a big problem.
“I am 60, so I can understand. But when I was 25, probably it was different.
“We did something wrong. I don’t know what. Probably we have to win more matches, I don’t know.
“In the end, we are not doing so badly. During this season, we have won 33 matches. In England, only Manchester City did better than us.
“Of course, we know very well we need to improve our performances. But we have the chance to take our target.
“We can arrive at the end of the season in the top four. We can try to take the final in the Europa League. And so, at the end, our season can become a very good season.”
Hudson-Odoi to start first Prem game
Victory against Brighton could see the Chelsea move back into the top four, yet for some of the club’s fans the former bank manager can do no right – even though he is planning to throw Callum Hudson-Odoi in for his first Premier League start.
Sarri believes much of the problem is unrealistic expectation after a decade of success, not helped by the fact his side made such an impressive start to the season which saw them go unbeaten until mid-November.
Now he is fighting for his job while still being in with a shout of a top three finish and glory in the Europa League.
He added: “We started very well, and so our fans thought everything was really very easy for us. But it’s not true.
“As I said in every press conference, we had to face difficulties.
“We started very well, a bit lucky in some matches with a very great level of enthusiasm. But I knew very well that it wasn’t easy and, sooner or later, we’d have to face big difficulties.”
“Probably, in the last seasons, they were used to winning. They thought that it was normal to continue to win. But it’s not normal.
“The other teams, in the last seasons, have improved a lot from all points of view. So now, the Premier League is really, really very difficult, even for a big club like Chelsea.
“We have to work, to improve. If you take a coach with my characteristics, you have to work, improve day by day and week by week. I think that, in the future, we will be able to fight for the top.
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“At the moment, we are not playing very well our football. We need to improve playing our way of football. So we are trying to do this, but it’s not easy.
“It’s not easy, especially in the first season because we started to work only in the middle of July. At the beginning of August, we played the first official match.
“Then we worked for a couple of weeks and then we started to play every three days. So it’s not easy for me to play my football.”