CHELSEA boss Maurizio Sarri could be sacked if he employs the same tactics against Manchester City again in the Carabao Cup final.
That is the view of Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, who says that the Italian must go against his principles and change.
The Blues suffered their heaviest Premier League defeat ever at the hands of the champions a couple of weeks ago – losing 6-0.
And the two teams are set to meet once more at Wembley on Sunday with the first domestic trophy of the season on offer.
Sarri has come under increased pressure in recent weeks after a string of poor performances, including a 4-0 loss to Bournemouth.
And former Arsenal and England player Merson thinks it’s now make-or-break time for Sarri.
“It comes down to Sunday,” he told Sky Sports. “He has to be flexible. If he plays the same way, the ‘Sarriball’, then Chelsea will get ripped to shreds by Manchester City and that will be the end.
“If we see another side and changes the way he plays and makes it difficult for Man City and tries to keep it tight, then maybe you would say ‘give him time, he has just come in and he is prepared to change for certain games and we will stick with him’.
“But if he goes out and plays the same way and Chelsea get ripped apart again by City then that will be it.
“You would like to think he will change things, because if he doesn’t then it’s madness at the highest level. You have just lost 6-0 to this team a few weeks ago and you are going to go out and play the same way?! That’s madness. I would go as far as to say that’s insanity.
“He needs to change, if he doesn’t and Chelsea lose by three or four that’s the end.”
Chelsea tried to press City in their most recent meeting at the Etihad but the tactic backfired in the heavy defeat.
“You have to give yourself a chance,” says Merson. “In my opinion they have three players who can defend – Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante. The rest can’t defend.
“Don’t go and ask them to play a closing-down game when none of them can defend. Just try and get them back into a shape and work from there and make it difficult for City.
“I am very interested in Sunday to see if he is prepared to change. If you are not prepared to change and it goes wrong I don’t see there’s any point in sticking with him as you are never going to gain on Manchester City.”
Chelsea have a Europa League last-32 second leg to contend with at home to Malmo before they take on City.
The Blues go into Thursday’s game with a 2-1 lead and should navigate their way into the last-16.