Knives are out for under-fire Blues boss Sarri

Chelsea

His name was bound to come up, sooner rather than later. We’re talking Frank Lampard. And, yes, we’re also talking about the manager’s job at Chelsea. For it hasn’t taken long for reports to emerge suggesting the Blues’ legendary midfielder Lampard, currently boss at Championship Derby County, is in the frame for the role should Maurizio Sarri be axed.

Sarri, who switched from Italian giants Napoli to Stamford Bridge in the summer replacing Antonio Conte, seems to be running out of time to convince those who walk the corridors of power at the Bridge that he is indeed the man for the job.

The coach did his chances of retaining his position no favours at all last time of asking when Chelsea suffered a 2-0 reverse at Everton, despite being on top in the first half at Goodison Park. After that loss he said: “I don’t know and the players don’t know what happened in the second half. I cannot explain it. We played the best first half in the season and we could have scored four or five and then suddenly we stopped playing.

“We were in control of the match and we played very well so we needed continue but we didn’t defend at the start of the second half. We changed the system but it was the same.
The problem was mental on the pitch, so the system and the tactics are not important. It wasn’t about motivation because we started very well. We have to play eight matches now and we have to fight for our possibilities.”

The international break may well have given the under-fire coach some breathing space in that he doesn’t have a game to oversee, but it has also allowed critics to sharpen their pens; the verdict very much seems to be that if Sarri and Chelsea lose next week at Cardiff City when the Premier League action resumes then it could be curtains.

And it doesn’t necessarily help that the Bluebirds are fighting for their top-flight lives. Their resolve has been redoubled of late and they will be fighting tooth and nail to gain a win to ease their drop fears.

But even if the Blues win and strengthen their league standing, and progress into the semi-final of the Europa League should they overcome Slavia Prague in the next round, it is likely Sarri will be shown the exit at the end of the campaign.

So, aside from Lampard, who else would be in the running for the job if Sarri was given the boot? Nuno Espirito Santo, the current Wolves manager, is said to be another possible replacement, reports suggest. It is said that billionaire Blues owner Roman Abramovich is keen on Molineux chief Espirito Santo after steering his charges to an impressive season so far in both the league and the FA Cup.

Portuguese manager Espirito Santo heads up a team that is seventh in the standings and they have also booked a first FA Cup semi-final appearance in 21 years; they face Watford for the right to reach the final. Apparently, Abramovich had hoped to give the job to either Zinedine Zidane or Max Allegri as manager for next term. But Juventus chief Allegri has backed away from the role — and Zidane made a shock return to former club Real Madrid after Santiago Solari was axed.