Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola believes that Maurizio Sarri can keep his job at the end of the season, even if he does not steer the Blues to a major trophy.

The Blues have played an impressive brand of football so far under the guidance of the Italian tactician, but most pundits believe that the Premier League title race this season will be a contest between Manchester City and Liverpool, leaving Chelsea to have to challenge for a Champions League qualification spot for next season.

The Blues’ board is one that is known for being harsh. In the past, the club has sacked managers who performed well but failed to win a trophy. This was seen in 2008 when Avram Grant was sacked as manager despite having led the club to the final of the Champions League, where they lost against Manchester United on penalties. It was also seen last term as Antonio Conte was sacked even though the Blues won the FA Cup.

Conte ultimately paid the price as the club finished in fifth place in the league standings and failed to secure a place in this season’s Champions League. Chelsea are currently in a rebuilding phase and it would be unrealistic to expect Sarri to guide the club to the Premier League and major trophies this season as the club is still adapting to his style of play, known as Sarri-ball.

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However, it would be realistic to expect the 59-year-old to steer the club back into the Champions League and to have sustained runs in the Cup tournaments. Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s EFL Cup tie against Bournemouth, Zola suggested that Sarri does not necessarily need to win things this season to keep his job.

As reported by Football.London, Zola said: “We want to win things, it is a quarter-final. He doesn’t really [need to win something in first season], he has to build up. Last year they won and we want to achieve something, but we are not in a urge for that.

“We want to be competitive in this league and Europe. We need to think in a short term and long term. This team plays in the way he wants to play, not consistently yet, but it is coming. It is demanding what the coach wants.

“I can understand it is difficult. As much as we try to play offensive there are a lot of ways you need to be defensive. This is what the players need to achieve.”