Maurizio Sarri should think twice before going public with criticism of his Chelsea players, Ruud Gullit has warned.
The Italian questioned his team’s mentality after last weekend’s 2-0 loss at Arsenal, but Thursday’s penalty shoot-out victory over Tottenham in the EFL Cup semi-final represented a telling response.
After that game, Hazard was asked about Sarri’s comments and insisted “I don’t care”, with Gullit suggesting it was a bad idea for a manager to speak negatively about their squad.
“It is very, very risky to criticise your players in public like Sarri did this week – even if you know you are right,” Gullit wrote in a BBC Match of the Day column.
“Sometimes as a manager you really want to be open about what you are thinking, good or bad, and for the right reasons. You are hoping your players respond in the right way.
“But if that openness is misinterpreted by them, then you have more problems.
“What you really don’t want is a situation that plays out in the media like the one we have just seen at Chelsea. The only people who benefit when that happens are the newspapers.”
On the subject of Sarri’s specific criticism of star man Hazard and the Belgian’s response, Gullit was unequivocal, telling Sarri to “shut up”.
“Sarri spoke about Hazard, calling him an individual and not a leader, and then Hazard responded by basically saying he does not care what his manager thinks, he is still going to do his thing – so shut up,” he said.
“That is already a sign of what can go wrong when you call your players out.
“I have never really felt like Sarri’s job was at risk through all this but, if they keep talking about each other then, as a manager, he is in trouble.
“That has nothing to do with the power of the player involved, either.
“Yes, Hazard is Chelsea’s best player, and they rely on him too much, but it is the whole dressing room that Sarri has to handle here and keep happy, not just an individual.”
Chelsea host Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday and will take on Manchester City in the EFL Cup final next month.