A solid performance in a high-profile game, some subtle alterations to one aspect of the team play, and a dressing room that does not cause difficulties are reasons why there has been an upturn in fortunes in recent weeks.
Those were thoughts shared by Maurizio Sarri when talking to the media today. The boss discounted a suggestion that a significant change in tactics has been behind good results against Tottenham and Fulham, as well as a credible showing in the Carabao Cup final, but he does think that game at Wembley where we kept a clean sheet and were only defeated on penalties against Man City was crucial for belief.
‘Tactically we changed only the line of pressing sometimes, but we are trying to play in the same way,’ Sarri explained. ‘Mentally the final was very important for us because we lost 6-0 in Manchester two weeks before and then in the final we were able to play at the same level as them. It was very important for our minds and our confidence.’
It was also put to Sarri that the way he subsequently handled the incident with Kepa towards the end of that match has helped his standing with his players.
‘I was lucky because I have two very good goalkeepers, and I was lucky because Caballero did well in the match versus Tottenham and Kepa did well versus Fulham. So you can see the situation as well managed but I was lucky I think!
‘The players respected me also before that. It was not a problem for me, the dressing room. We had some problems with the mentality because we did very badly in two or three matches, not because of the dressing room.
‘This is not a tough group to manage. Not at all. Of course the situation is not easy because we are at Chelsea, we need to win something, but the players are not very difficult to manager at all. Of course we have to improve our mentality because we cannot miss [playing well] in three or four matches.’
Sarri confirmed he has been talking with the club about arrangements for the pre-season and reiterated that his own situation is not a priority.
‘It is not important if next season I will be here. At the moment it is important only the results. I am confident of course or I am not able to do my work. I have to think this [I will be here next season] if I want to do my job in the best way.’