Chelsea thrashed Arsenal 4-1 in last night’s Europa League Final in Baku, with the atmosphere graveyard-like but the occasion the second biggest in European football. With jobs on the line and pressure mounting, Italian boss Maurizio Sarri pulled out the stops to win his first major trophy as a manager, and potentially keep his job.
After ex-Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud fired them ahead in the second half, goals from Pedro and a double from Eden Hazard saw the Gunners tremble without submission. They scored only a consolation through an Alex Iwobi wonder strike.
Reports linking him with Juventus are piling up. Hazard almost definitely leaving, a transfer ban looming, it looks an attractive prospect.
However, the Chelsea fans believe that the trophy might be papering over the cracks of failure in the season in which they finished 3rd and finished runners-up in the Carabao Cup.
It feels similar to the Claude Puel situation at Southampton a few years back. The manager achieves on paper but doesn’t have the majority of supporters on side, leading to sacking. But will Sarri last?
Rumours have swirled in recent weeks of Frank Lampard returning to the club in the job next season after his achievements with Derby County, but surely its too soon for the ex-Blue to tactically plan for a Premier League title challenge.
Other names linked include Nuno Espirito Santo, Max Allegri and Javi Gracia.
Sarri though has succeeded in his time at Stamford Bridge, and has returned them to Champions League football via the mediums of a 3rd place finish and a Europa League.
This has attracted the Old Lady, and if you were Sarri, for me, it is a no-brainer. Have a shot at winning the Champions League and play exciting football with Cristiano Ronaldo, or be constantly under pressure at Chelsea with a transfer ban and no Hazard. No brainer.
Can you morally sack a manager who’s just won you a major trophy? Or will he jump before he is pushed? It could develop into one of the major managerial sagas of the summer.