Sunday saw Cesar Azpilicueta score the goal that may have saved Maurizio Sarri's job, heading home a controversial late equaliser to spark the Blues' 2-1 revival against Cardiff City in the Welsh capital.
The potentially pivotal victory keeps Chelsea firmly in the hunt for a top four Premier League finish, Sarri's side currently sitting just one point behind fourth-place Tottenham. However, the victory was marred by increasing dissension between the traveling support and the under-fire manager.
After watching their side trail 1-0 for much of the second half, Chelsea supporters audibly vented their frustrations with the Italian, chanting: "
With time running out, Azpilicueta headed past Neil Etheridge from an offside position before Ruben Loftus-Cheek notched the winner in the first minute of stoppage to secure all three points and likely buy Sarri an ounce of breathing room, despite growing pressure from the media and supporters alike.
Has the Captain Cesar Azpilicueta just saved Sarri's job? #CARCHE— Shaun Richards (@notayesmansecon) March 31, 2019
Following the match, Azpilicueta, captain of Sarri's side this season, came out in defence of his maligned manager, pleading for a united front (as quoted by The Independent): "
"We are all in the same boat and will push in the same direction. I know the fans want us to win, and when the results are not there, we are all responsible.
"On Wednesday from the first minute, we have to create a good atmosphere on the pitch.
In February, Eden Hazard backed Sarri and his brand of football in an interview with The Times, saying: "He's an old man but the way he thinks is the same way I think about football.
"We are still learning about his concept. We are doing well. I like this kind of football."
Chelsea's leaders are going against the grain and backing their manager, publicly, and in the face of intense supporter and media scrutiny. This influx of player support points to a major cultural change within the entire football club and while it may come too late for Sarri, with his fate potentially a lost cause already, the next manager could be the benefactor of an atmosphere conducive to sustained, collective, success.
Despite the troubled campaign, Azpilicueta and his side could still end the season with a flourish as the ongoing battle for Premier League
If Chelsea finish in the top four or win the Europa League, does Maurizio Sarri deserve next season in charge? pic.twitter.com/sNuFzliHp6— Chelsea FC News (@Chelsea_FL) April 3, 2019
Sarri could also end his first season in England with a European trophy as Chelsea prepare to face Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-final stage, the first leg set for April 11, at the Sinobo Stadium in Prague.
Source : 90min