Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has rushed to defend old friend Maurizio Sarri and urged Chelsea to “trust” the Italian tactician.
The pair have long been in a mutual appreciation society for some time, as Guardiola keeps a close eye on Italian football, even more so after City met Napoli in the Champions League last season.
With reports continuing to suggest Sarri is on the verge of the sack and struggling to get his Chelsea team to enact the ‘Sarriball’ tactics, Guardiola ran to his defence.
“The situation is a little bit different. In my first year, never the club doubted me,” said Guardiola ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final against Chelsea.
“It was never in the media that I'd be sacked if they lose this game or the other game. It never happened. I was surprised that when Antonio Conte won the title and they lost one or two games at the beginning of the season, people start to say he was going to be sacked. I said: 'Wow, but two or three months ago they won the Premier League.'
“I came here to work with Ferran (Soriano) and Txiki (Begiristain). They trust me and I trust them. In the first season when it was difficult, I said we needed time and they supported me.
“The players knew who was the manager and who would be the manager, it was stable, that's the best way to do something for a long time, not just a short period.”
Manchester City destroyed Chelsea 6-0 earlier this month, but Guardiola maintains it was not an accurate reflection of their quality.
“When we lost there and when we won here, my opinion of Sarri and his teams is always high. When we reviewed the game against us here, maybe people don't believe me but they did incredible things.
“They did many, many good things. That was my feeling. I've spoken to my staff and they had the same opinion.
“The pressure they had was quite good. They played good, but we were so clinical in that game. With our four or five chances, we scored three or four goals.”