Premier League

Gianfranco Zola plays good cop to Maurizio Sarri’s bad cop

Gianfranco Zola plays good cop to Maurizio Sarri’s bad cop as Chelsea assistant looks to instil positivity after Bournemouth and Man City thrashings

  • Maurizio Sarri and Gianfranco Zola seem to have a good cop, bad cop routine
  • Chelsea boss Sarri is the direct disciplinarian while Zola comforts the players
  • Sarri spoke with brutal honesty after back-to-back away league thrashings
  • While his managerial assistant tried to instil a sense of positivity in the aftermath 

Kieran Gill for the Daily Mail

Maurizio Sarri rips his players apart, then Gianfranco Zola picks up the pieces. It has become the Chelsea way — the old good cop, bad cop routine.

Head coach Sarri is the direct, no-nonsense disciplinarian. His assistant Zola is the nice guy who puts arms around shoulders and remembers what it was like to be a player. 

In the aftermath of Chelsea’s 4-0 and 6-0 Premier League defeats by Bournemouth and Manchester City, Sarri spoke with brutal honesty. Zola then tried to instil a sense of positivity.

Maurizio Sarri (left) and Gianfranco Zola (right) seem to have a good cop, bad cop routine

Maurizio Sarri (left) and Gianfranco Zola (right) seem to have a good cop, bad cop routine

Chelsea bounced back with a 2-1 win over Swedish side Malmo in the Europa League on Thursday, but the real test awaits at Stamford Bridge on Monday against Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round.

‘You know Maurizio,’ Zola said. ‘He’s very straightforward. You can see through him. He says what he thinks. He feels better when it’s like that.

‘Sometimes he’s strong in what he says, but always very honest.’

Asked if Sarri is short-tempered, Zola paused, smiling as he looked up and searched for the right words. ‘He’s very passionate,’ he answered. 

Zola shakes Pep Guardiola's hand while Sarri snubs the Spaniard after Chelsea's 6-0 thrashing

Zola shakes Pep Guardiola's hand while Sarri snubs the Spaniard after Chelsea's 6-0 thrashing

Zola shakes Pep Guardiola’s hand while Sarri snubs the Spaniard after Chelsea’s 6-0 thrashing

‘When he’s at work, he’s at work. The more you know him, the more you like it. Sometimes he’s strong and doesn’t go round the corner — he goes straight to the point.

‘I speak to the players but I don’t make it too complicated. I know that when things aren’t going the way you want, a lot of things come to mind, negative things.

‘But this is not the moment to doubt it. What we’re trying to do is ambitious in a competitive league and it’s not easy. But we believe it’s the right way and we carry on.’

Sarri has been accused of stubbornness when it comes to his ‘Sarriball’ system. ‘How do you know we are not making changes?’ said Zola. ‘We are adjusting a few things.

‘Two years ago, you were probably asking the same questions to (Manchester City boss) Pep Guardiola.

‘You were asking if he’d keep playing from the back all the time. He said this was not in discussion and part of his game, even in the difficult moments.

‘There are questions about what we are doing, a lot of doubts. We are adapting to the league but we don’t change what we believe is good for this club because otherwise we are nothing.

‘Not everything comes together straight away.’

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