It’s just mental, reckoned Morrie Sarri after Chelsea slipped to a 2-0 defeat up at Everton at the weekend – and few would disagree with him.
“It’s probably a mental block, I think,” said the great soothsayer after the Blues had bossed a goalless first half, only to fall apart in a disappointing second half.
“If we are able to play like in the first half with consistency, then we are in another position in the league table, but we have this problem,” said the coach at Goodison Park. “It is a big limit for us, because we lost a similar match away at Wolverhampton and today in the same way.”
Yet there is no explanation for his verdict – no accompanying reason for the inability to convert chances, as Eden Hazard hit the post, Olivier Giroud misfired and Gonzalo Higuain squandered opportunities.
We played probably the best 45 minutes of the season and then suddenly at the beginning of the second half we stopped playing, without defending, so we were in trouble.”
Why, Morrie, Why? Why does it keep happening. Every time the team seems to be building a good head of steam and stringing together promising results, they collapse to Man City, throw in the towel against Wolves or succumb to Everton.
“It is difficult for the players to explain to me the change and difficult for me to explain the change, but it is probably a mental block I think,” he added, reinforcing the view of a watching chairman Bruce Buck that ‘the change’ is going to be sooner rather than later.
If there’s one thing oligarch owners can’t stand it’s indecision, and Sarri’s regular displays of bewildered hand-wringing after poor results can only hasten his departure.
Yes, Sarri will be given time and space to defeat Slavia Prague over two legs in April, but (even if the manager succeeds in solving his mental block issue and Chelsea get to the Europa final at the end of May) expect a fairly rapid desk clearance immediately after that.
The alternative, if the Blues don’t make it to the Europa semis in the first week of May, is likely to be a warm goodbye after Leicester v Chelsea on the last day of the domestic league season.