Joe Cole reckons Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has “steadied the ship” following the Blues’ victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Reportedly close to the sack following the club’s alarming dip in form at the start of the year, Sarri bounced back by guiding the west Londoners to a deserved 2-0 win over their city rivals Spurs. Against Tottenham, the Blues significantly improved their defensive display, holding Mauricio Pochettino’s men without a shot on target, while a Pedro strike and a Kieran Trippier own goal proved the difference for the west Londoners.
The success at Stamford Bridge has eased the pressure on the ex-Napoli boss as the three precious points they earned meant they remain very much in contention for a place in the top four. Currently, they lie sixth in the league table with 53 points, two points behind Manchester United and a further point behind Arsenal, who hold the fourth and final Champions League spot, although the Blues do have a game in hand.
Cole, who was speaking as a pundit on television, has reflected on the impressive work the 60-year-old Italian has done since arriving at west London last summer, when the club was at the height of a protracted exit saga involving former head coach Antonio Conte. The 37-year-old insists Sarri has brought stability to Chelsea and has taken them to a promising position to return to the Champions League next season.
“I think things are sitting very well,” said the ex-Blues midfielder, who is now part of the club’s coaching staff. “I think he could have been sitting here after defeat and we could have been having a very different conversation.
“But when you consider the situation the club were in last year he’s come in and steadied the ship, he’s got a great opportunity to make the Champions League and I believe would have been his mandate at the start of the season.
“For a club like Chelsea to slip to the position they were in and have the furore that has happened for the last six months I think he’s steadied the ship. I think he’s done well. I think there’s still more to come.
“There was an opportunity today, you’ve just beaten your closest rivals, the fans were jumping, the players were celebrating with the fans, he should have been on the pitch with the players because then you can use that for the next game.
“There’s another level for him once he realises the culture and how important this game is for the club. On the front of it, there’s 10, 11 games and the Europa League so it’ll be important to balance the squads to make sure we win a place in the Champions League for next year.”