Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri may have to win the Europa League this season in order to save his job at Stamford Bridge after what has so far been a difficult first year at the club.
The Blues have been thrashed by an aggregate score of 10-0 in their last two away games and have failed to even score a goal away from home in the Premier League this calendar year.
After being caught by Manchester United and overtaken by Arsenal, sixth place Chelsea may struggle to finish in the Premier League top four this season. It puts Champions League qualification in jeopardy for the second year in a row unless they can qualify by other means.
And according to the Daily Telegraph, Sarri is ‘under pressure to win the Europa League’, with the prize for winning the competition automatic qualification for the Champions League – a route exploited by Manchester United in 2016/17 when they finished sixth domestically
Chelsea are set to face Swedish club Malmo in the last 32 first leg of the Europa League on Thursday night and Sarri has admitted that he, the staff and the players talked for ‘one hour’ the day after being thumped 6-0 by Manchester City last weekend, which the report labels as ‘crisis talks’.
“We talked all together for one hour the day after the match. I think that it’s better to work, better to react on the pitch,” the Italian is quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“It’s not easy to play on Thursday after a 6-0, but we have to play and we have to play well. We want to win. In my opinion, the last game was not a problem of motivation.
Chelsea will return from Sweden and then have three days to prepare for an FA Cup fifth round tie against Manchester United on Monday night, followed a week later by the final of the Carabao Cup in what will be a quick reunion with Manchester City.
“We need to have short-term targets. [Thursday], the target is to qualify or have a good result,” Sarri said. “On Monday, the target will be to get into the quarter-finals. Then to win the League Cup. We need short-term targets and then a dream in the long-term.”