‘Sacked In The Morning’ – Chelsea Fans Turn On Sarri

Maurizio Sarri expresses his frustration during Chelsea's FA Cup clash vs. Manchester United. PICTURE: Getty Images

Maurizio Sarri felt the familiar ­refrains for a beleaguered manager as Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup.

This was a brilliant away performance from Manchester United and another, dare it be said, a throwback of a display in which they defended resolutely and counter-attacked ruthlessly to emphatically earn their place in the last eight.

They were driven on by Paul Pogba with yet another goal and yet another assist and yet another dominant display. Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over in December the reborn, rejuvenated midfielder has had a hand in 15 goals, scoring nine of them, in 12 games.

Against this Sarri was met with chants of “you don’t know what you are doing” and “sacked in the morning” and an even angrier one emanating from the Matthew Harding Stand of “f— Sarri-ball”. Not one for the purists.

These are intensely difficult times for the Italian as he heads ­towards Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, who whipped his team 6-0 little over a week ago. How much longer will he last? Every predictable substitution, every usual change Sarri made was met with an open rebellion by the supporters. He is the first Chelsea manager for a long time to lose the fans like this and it appears unsustainable. It feels like the fag end, already, of the chain smoker’s tenure.

Off went Pedro and Mateo Kovacic. On came Willian and Ross Barkley, while the final change, which saw full-back Davide Zappacosta used while winger Callum Hudson-Odoi kicked his heels on the bench, tipped some fans over the edge. The boos at the end were long and full of fury and it was also telling that a large number stayed behind to express that anger.

At the same time, Solskjaer gave his chances of earning a permanent contract another significant boost, bouncing back from the Champions League defeat by Paris St-Germain, in which Pogba was sent off, with the 11th win in 13 games.

Solskjaer became the first United manager since Sir Alex Ferguson, who was here, to win at Stamford Bridge. It was also the first time in five meetings in this competition that United had prevailed against Chelsea – including Solskjaer’s last game for United, the 2007 final – and that will be noted. As will the incredible, high-energy support he again received from his club’s travelling fans, who raised the decibels and did not relent.

Before the goals Chelsea had chances. After them, they had none. Gonzalo Higuain should have done better than steering a header wide, while Romero unconvincingly beat away a Luiz free-kick and just about repelled Pedro’s follow-up.

But that was it. Their only other gripe was their former midfielder Nemanja Matic was fortunate to escape a dismissal for a second yellow card as he tripped Kante. 

Yes, Chelsea had the majority of possession, the majority of crosses, but this was an emphatically deserved victory for United and a familiar sense of the end approaching for another Chelsea manager.