It’s a critical time in Maurizio Sarri’s brief Chelsea career. Humbling losses to Bournemouth, Manchester City and United have created the feeling that the sack is imminent.
One of the key things to come from his recent post-match debriefs, was the admittance that he wasn’t motivating his players.
This is enough to get alarm bells ringing. Motivation is the oil that turns the wheels of the success machine. Without it, things quickly grind to a halt. Players start to look disinterested and lacking in energy and vibrancy. Defeats come easily.
Motivation can work on an individual and collective level. At the highest level, players need stimulation. Training sessions that take them out of their comfort zone, or challenge their current skill set. Learning, development and improvement is king.
If players are simply following orders, or training sessions revolve around repetitive drills, players become bored and under-stimulated. See Jose Mourinho’s final days at Old Trafford for a prime example of this.
Systems thinking is fine. But if it limits player development than you are certain to arrive at under-performance sooner or later. The best managers can change course as needed and not be limted by their fixed and rigid ways of thinking.
Maurizio Sarri’s past success is no guarantee of future success. In fact it can be the trap that prevents him from seeing other ways of doing things. When the pressure is building, it can be hard to think with a clear mind. Fresh thinking becomes negated by results thinking.
But when your job is on the line, sometimes you have to clean the board, put away your fixed ideas, and re-imagine a way of playing that matches the skill set of your players. For it is your players that will keep you in your job. Not your system.