Maurizio Sarri insists there is no time to dwell on Saturday’s defeat at Arsenal as we prepare for the second leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final with Tottenham.
The Blues boss expressed his disappointment after the 2-0 defeat against the Gunners but, having made it clear what he expects from his players as a bare minimum, he will be doing all he can to ensure there is a feel-good environment at Cobham ahead of this key fixture.
‘I’m pretty consistent in my approach, in the sense that I like there to be a really good atmosphere,’ said the Italian. ‘I like it when the players are enjoying themselves because I think if they are enjoying themselves out on the pitch, there is more chance we’re going to be winning and that’s an enjoyable experience as well.
‘Nevertheless, I’m demanding in the sense that we need to have the right attitude and the right approach and most certainly we need to be able to show exactly the same if not better levels of determination as our opponents.’
Sarri explained how he has no doubts over the talent within this squad of players, despite the loss of some of our most experienced and successful individuals in recent times, and will do all he can to get the most out of them.
‘When I came here I realised the group has a huge amount of potential, there is no doubt about that whatsoever, so I certainly don’t think it would be correct to talk about me being disappointed with what I found when I arrived,’ he said.
‘I knew the team was coming off the back of a pretty disappointing season and over the last couple of years, they have lost a couple of really important what I could call points of reference for the club. Certainly, I think the team has a lot of potential and that’s what I need to work on.’
He went on to talk about the potential for new leaders to emerge from this squad, who can help him to instil his ideas in everyone else.
‘I think we have leaders,’ he said. ‘I think we may even have somebody who is capable of embodying the characteristics I’ve talked about. But I think we do need to change the mentality and I think that within the group of players we do have that ability and the characteristics to change.’
Referring back to the comments he made after Saturday’s defeat, Sarri explained how he will always speak his mind and hopes it brings the right response from the players as we look to overturn a one-goal deficit from the first leg against Spurs and throughout the remainder of the season.
‘I don’t think it’s risky because these guys have got a sensible head on their shoulders,’ he said. ‘First of all, I said the players are difficult to motivate, but by the same token, I think there are players who are sensible, who will listen and who won’t take it the wrong way. There might be a slight risk, but I don’t really think there is.
‘This is my character. I’m a straight talker and this is how I speak. Sometimes when you speak in this way, it might cause a bit of upset, but it doesn’t cause any lingering bitterness or anything like that.’
As for whether he foresees wholesale change, he added: ‘I’m a good teacher of this football and I don’t think it would necessarily be a good idea if I was to try and teach my players to play a different type of football. There will be some changes perhaps, but there will be no massive upheaval in the way we play.’