Pressure is once again mounting on Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri after his side lost 2-0 to an Everton team whose own performances this season have been called into question.
It had all doomed for the Italian in the wake of his side’s 6-0 defeat to Manchester City in February only for the Blues to bounce back to reach the quarter finals of the Europa League, beating Malmo and then Dynamo Kiev, with victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham.
However, the loss to the Toffees has soured the mood with reports of urgent meetings to discuss the former Napoli head coach’s future at Stamford Bridge – and there is a precedent to suggest that the Blues should make the call soon to relieve Sarri of command.
After losing to Manchester United in the FA Cup, following their collapse against City, Chelsea only have the Europa League to play for this season, with the Premier League out of reach and the Carabao Cup final already lost.
Of the last five European finals contested by the Blues, four came in seasons that saw the manager sacked, as revealed by Twitter account Chelsea Youth.
In 1998, Ruud Gullit was replaced by Gianluca Vialli as the club reached the final of the now defunct UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. They defeated Stuttgart in the decider in Stockholm with Gianfranco Zola scoring the only goal of the game.
Then in 2008, Jose Mourinho’s first reign at Stamford Bridge was brought to an end with Avram Grant picking up the reins in the dugout as he guided Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Co. to the Champions League final against Manchester United.
Unfortunately, the Blues lost on penalties to their Premier League opponents in Moscow.
Only four years later, Chelsea were back in the final of the same competition after Andre Villas Boas was sacked in March. He had presided over a 3-1 defeat to Napoli in the round of 16.
In came Roberto Di Matteo, the Blues won 4-1 at home, and on they went, showing their grit and getting their luck to beat Benfica, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to lift the greatest prize in European club football against all the odds.
The following season, fate swung the other way for Di Matteo as he was replaced by Rafael Benitez. An unpopular figure for many supporters, the ex-Liverpool manager still delivered the Europa League.
In doing so, Chelsea became one of the select few clubs to have won every UEFA comepetition alongside Ajax, Bayern, Juventus and United.
With the draw for the quarter-finals of the Europa League pitching the Blues up against Slavia Prague, the giant killers who knocked out Sevilla in the round of 16, fans may be confident of progressing further in the competition this season.
A win would seal qualification to the Champions League for 2019/20. No small prize.
Do they need to dispatch Sarri in order to keep the pattern going?
The Italian’s performance in first few games back from the international break could be decisive.