Ian Holloway has criticised the Chelsea squad for being ‘lazy’ and ‘lacklustre’, while defending Blues boss Maurizio Sarri for publicly criticising his players following the defeat to Arsenal.
Sarri said his players are “extremely difficult to motivate” following a dismal performance in the 2-0 loss at the Emirates on Saturday, which saw them register just one shot on target.
And speaking on the Jim White Show on talkSPORT, the former QPR and Blackpool boss pulled no punches in his assessment of the current Chelsea squad – insisting the problem continues to be the players and not the manager at Stamford Bridge.
“The fact is they almost look lacklustre. It’s always as if sometimes they need a William Wallace type talk,” he said.
“How many times have they done that? They’ve done it to (Jose) Mourinho, (Antonio) Conte.
“There’s something wrong with the group. I watched the game, and do I agree with him (Sarri)? Yes.
“But is it risky? Of course. But I go back to my ultimate hero Bill Shankly and what he says about lazy players and what should happen (the clip is played out live on air).”
Holloway believes the club have no leaders and a group of players who think about their individual needs ahead of what is collectively best for the team.
He continued: “Well this group of Chelsea players are lazy. They are not going about their work in the right way.
“(Roman) Abramovich should look at and think how many times has this happened? Where are the leaders in this group?
“The Graeme Souness’, the Roy Keanes’ and so forth.
“I was told years ago by senior players in that dressing room about what standards were expected from him.
“Everybody leaves it now at Chelsea and just thinks of themselves and not the team.”
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The 55-year-old, who is keen on a return to management himself, believes Sarri’s public outburst was a “beautiful, honest risk” and fully justified.
He explained: “No, Sarri is not out on a limb. He’s a very intelligent man and a mathematician.
“He cannot believe he’s had to come out and do this. Do this lot want to win as much as he does?
“You’ve got to be very careful how you dig people out. If it’s just personal on one player, a bit like Mourinho was on (Luke) Shaw – that was a bit personal – maybe that’s too much.
“(Pep) Guardiola had his problems with (Leroy) Sane earlier in the season, too.
“Both players have responded to that though and shown what they’re all about.
“Yes, Sarri’s taken a risk, but I think it was a beautiful, honest risk.
“He did it because he couldn’t believe the group of players he’s working with are not performing to the standards they are capable of.”
Sarri will be looking for a reaction from his side on Thursday night at Stamford Bridge when the Blues will be looking to seal a spot in the Carabao Cup final at the expense of London rivals Tottenham, a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT.