first_imgBLUES MONDAYAs an ice-cool fizzy drink would say, what’s the worst that can happen? By airing his grievances after Chelsea’s tepid defeat at Arsenal and throwing his players under the nearest King’s Road bus service, Maurizio Sarri has opened up a box-fresh can of worms. It is a move that has ruffled feathers before, one that has all of the decorum and coup de grace of José Mourinho’s attritional public dressing-room wars. It will not affect his players, the Italian says, but it’s hardly going to galvanise an infamously brittle squad. Cue player power revolt part VI? They may have not quite reached the realms of full-blown crisis mode just yet, but losing consecutive games to London rivals hardly gets the juices flowing. Enter Gonzalo Higuaín.Fed up with coaxing the same old faces to the giddy heights of fourth in the Premier League, cigarette-filter-chewing Sarri has booked Higuaín, the striker who he polished at Napoli, in for a medical before completing his worst-kept-secret loan move from Milan, with the Serie A club’s €35m acquisition of Krzysztof Piatek from Genoa greasing the wheels. Chelsea are now just three tiny points in front of Arsenal, so hopefully Higuaín can summon the appetite for a good-old fashioned Big Cup place race to finish. Well, more hunger than his current lot. “It is my character,” Sarri stressed, presumably stroking his chin. “I don’t think it is risky. These guys have a sensible head on their shoulders, so I don’t think I am risking anything. I said the players are difficult to motivate but by the same token there are players who are sensible, who listen and won’t take it the wrong way.” Durham Women after their recent win over Manchester United. Photograph: George Ledger Pinterest Pinterest David Luiz must be one of the players who can do no wrong, making notes at Sarri’s every word, first one in, last one out and all that. Club captain Gary Cahill and title-winner Victor Moses are both in the bad books, while Cesc Fàbregas and now Álvaro Morata have been politely shown the Stamford Bridge exit. “What Sarri has done until now is unbelievable,” David Luiz cheered, “because normally a team to understand this philosophy needs one or two years, like Man City and Liverpool, who are playing very well with the ball now. What he has done has been amazing, so we have to try to improve the details. Everybody is with him.”What happens next is the fun part. There will inevitably be an opportunity to – in unison – shout the words “down tools” from the rooftops when Willian frowns, Ross Barkley shakes his head or Olivier Giroud ambles out of the blocks. With his players stuck in staccato, maybe Sarri could lean on Mourinho, who has been busy trousering a reported £60,000 to analyse Watford v Burnley in a shiny Doha studio. Mourinho has got the T-shirt when it comes to infighting and in-house spats, after all. “I think we might even have someone who is capable of embodying the characteristics I have talked about,” Sarri stumbled. “Of course there is always a danger a leader emerges who is a bad leader – who doesn’t necessarily do the kind of things that I want the team to do. Nevertheless I think we need to change the mentality. I think we have that ability and the characteristics to change.” Bring on Spurs this Thursday.QUOTE OF THE DAY“I just think he was trying to deflect that they’d drawn 2-2 at home to Preston when they were leading 2-0. Which is fair enough, but it’s just everything since then has made me change my mind a little bit. It’s been a bit of a shambles to be honest but that’s football. I’ve seen it happen to a number of players who just get frozen out and don’t get a look in. They are training on their own in the morning, they get no days off. Basically what happens, the club just want them out, they want them off the wage bill and that’s essentially what happened” – Ross McCormack’s riposte to Steve Bruce on that old electric gates tale.RECOMMENDED LISTENINGFootball Weekly is in the house. Twitter Share on LinkedIn Pod peeps in the wild, earlier. Photograph: James Drew Turner/The Guardian Share on WhatsApp Facebook features Share on Facebook SUPPORT THE GUARDIANProducing the Guardian’s thoughtful, in-depth journalism [the stuff not normally found in this email, obviously – Fiver Ed] is expensive, but supporting us isn’t. If you value our journalism, please support us. In return we can hopefully arm you with the kind of knowledge that makes you sound slightly less uninformed during those hot reactive gegenpress chats you so enjoy. And if you think what we do is enjoyable [again, etc and so on – Fiver Ed], please help us keep coming back here to give you more of the same.FIVER LETTERS“Re: Friday’s Fiver: my extensive research (Wikipedia) suggests the average person picks their nose up to four times per day. If you accept therefore that, from 1-18 January, he had done so 72 times, it really is not surprising that Unai Emery has picked his nose more times this year than has picked Mezut Özil” – Daniel Whipp.“Obviously Jamie Vardy couldn’t turn into either The Flash or Superman (Friday’s Fiver letters) because Spider-Man is from the Marvel Universe not DC and hey, where are you going?” – Christopher Smith.Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Daniel Whipp.BITS AND BOBSBarcelona have dug out their random signing wheel, given it a spin and seen it land on … former Portsmouth forward Kevin-Prince Boateng. Yes! Photograph: Carlos Díaz-Recio/The Guardian Share via Email Twitter Share on Twitter Maurizio Sarri says slamming Chelsea’s players was not a risky move Read more Pinterest Share on Pinterest Facebook Twitter Serie A returned from its winter break with a reminder that it can still be beautiful, writes Paolo Bandini.Peter Bosz is boss again. Andy Brassell on a new start at Leverkusen.Daniel Taylor’s column looks at Po’ José.John Scales gets his chat on with Michael Butler.Why the transfer window shakes things up for Premier League youngsters. By Gavin Willacy.Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!TO DUBLIN! Facebook The Fiver Share on Messenger Topics Football Arsenal head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will leave the club next month. “I am excited about what the future holds for the club and am looking forward to new challenges for myself,” he cheered.Eric Dier reckons Fernando Llorente can fill the Harry Kane-shaped hole currently occupying Tottenham’s forward line. “We need to give him the service he needs to demonstrate his qualities,” whooped Dier.Huddersfield have appointed Martin from Wakefield Jan Siewert as their new manager.Yannick Bolasie has cut short his loan at Aston Villa so he can try and win back a starting spot with Everton. And Japan are through to the Asian Cup quarter-finals after a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, while Australia’s chances are – at the time of writing – still up in the flamin’ air against Uzbekistan. Follow it here.STILL WANT MORE?Sid Lowe on Jorge Molina’s remarkable journey.Speaking of remarkable journeys … how about Strasbourg?Get your 10 Premier League talking points while they’re lukewarm.Durham’s accidental manager has his sights on the Women’s Super League. Reuse this contentlast_img read more