Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri admits his team has a 'mental problem' but insists he is comfortable with his relationship with the owner Roman Abramovich.
Sarri revealed that he and his beleaguered team held one hour of crisis talks on Monday morning after the 6-0 defeat at Manchester City.
Sarri is under-fire after his side slumped to sixth in the Premier League table following three consecutive away defeats in which his team have conceded twelve goals and failed to score. Marcos Alonso, who was hooked in the second-half against City, has been left at home despite being fit.
Arriving in Sweden on Wednesday evening ahead of the Europa League knockout tie against Malmo, Sarri was further under the microscope as chairman Bruce Buck took a seat beside journalists in the press conference to observe proceedings. Buck has attended press conferences before but in the current context it felt significant.
Sarri moved to clarify comments he was reported to have made to Italian media after the defeat at City, in which he was alleged to have said that he 'never' hears from Abramovich.
'I never said never. Not very often, but not never,' Sarri said.
Asked if he has spoken to Abramovich this season, Sarri said: 'Yes of course. Not in this week. Not in the last three weeks. I'd like to speak to somebody at the club, not necessarily with the owner. I usually speak with Marina Granovskaia [club director], and that is enough.'
Sarri revealed his team talked through the City defeat but insists the problem is in the mind for his players.
'We talked all together for one hour the day after the match. We arrived at the match with the right level of motivation. After the first goal, we were not able to react or do anything. So the problem is different. But it's always a mind problem, a mental problem, so we need to solve them.'
Winger Pedro insisted the team remain behind Sarri but admitted certain games such as City make it difficult to impose Sarri-ball. 'All the team follow the idea of Maurizio. We can do this. But sometimes it's so difficult to play in this way. It depends upon the opponents.
'City played very well, so it was so difficult to press. To create between the lines, and to defend. But it's Maurizio's idea, and I prefer to press high when we recover the ball to create chances. Not to wait for 90 minutes to recover the ball and run 60m to score the goal.'
Meanwhile, Malmo boss Uwe Rosler warned Sarri that current results are not up to scratch and the former Manchester City player said he was 'delighted' to see Pep Guardiola's side demolish Chelsea.
Rosler, who scored 50 goals for Manchester City in the 1990's, is a cult hero at the club and the German, who previously managed Molde, has also exchanged good luck text messages with Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose own team face Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday evening.
Rosler said: 'I was delighted [by the City win]. It's no secret, my connection and feelings for Manchester City.'
Malmo finished 3rd in the Swedish top-flight last season and the season finished in November. As such, Malmo have had only a training camp in Marbella and a handful of pre-season fixtures as preparation.
Rosler said: 'Chelsea started the season in an impressive manner. Obviously results lately have not been to the standard of Chelsea. When you are at that level with the squad they have at their disposal, criticism and unhappiness come to the surface.
'The odds are against us...£18m turnover to 450m turnover. But who thought Leicester would win the Premier League? The stadium will be cooking.'