MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri again vowed to stick with his style of football despite the Londoners suffering their worst defeat since 1991 in Sunday’s hammering at Manchester City as woeful away form threatens to ruin their season.
The statistics do not make pleasant reading for the under-pressure Sarri. Chelsea’s 6-0 Premier League drubbing at the Etihad Stadium was alarming but it is the frequency of defeats away from Stamford Bridge that is causing the most concern.
Four away losses in a row in all competitions without scoring equals Chelsea’s club record. Their last away goal was N’Golo Kante’s winner at Crystal Palace on Dec. 30.
The City reverse was Chelsea’s third away league defeat in a row in which they have conceded 12 goals, piling the pressure on a manager whose insistence on adhering to his philosophy of possession football is frustrating the Chelsea fans.
However, the Italian remains unmoved.
“My target is to play my football, and not to change to other football (styles), Sarri said. “Today I didn’t see my football. At the beginning it worked, so now we need to understand the reason why at the moment it isn’t working.
“I am worried about my team and the performance - my job is always at risk.”
Things have unraveled very quickly for Sarri and his side.
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho at Manchester United in December, it appeared Chelsea were in a straight tussle with Arsenal for fourth spot, with Sarri’s side three points ahead of their London rivals and 11 above United.
But after Sunday’s humiliation at the Etihad, United are in fourth place, one point ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea.
To show how things have turned around, United now have a better goal difference than Chelsea, having been 21 goals worse off before Solskjaer’s first game against Cardiff on Dec. 22.
Sarri’s tactical approach will be further tested should Chelsea’s poor form continue and they fall further behind in the race for the top four and Champions League qualification.
Sarri, though, has an ally in Pep Guardiola.
“I know what he wants to do,” the City manager said. “They want to try to do it, they beat us at Stamford Bridge. The people don’t understand how difficult it is to do something.
“The people expect that it immediately comes, it needs time. It only is the belief of the owners.”
Time, though, is not something usually afforded to the man in the hot seat at Chelsea, who have had eight different permanent managers in less than eight years. Sarri has yet to convince anyone that he will be treated any differently.
Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris