Thursday September 7 2017
Sarri the hipsters' choice

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli merges style and substance to devastating effect, writes Jack Stevens, challenging Pep Guardiola's approach.

Maurizio Sarri, a former banker born in the city of Naples, is single-handedly revolutionising Calcio and has turned Napoli into one of the most attractive football sides on the planet.

#SarriFootball, as it is affectionately referred to by fans on social media, is more than just a signal of admiration for Napoli’s easy-on-the-eye football, it is an appreciation of the tactical revolution which has reintroduced the real possibility of Naples becoming the epicentre of Serie A.

Napoli finished the 2016-17 season with a total of 86 points, a tally big enough to clinch the league in most other countries, however this stat alone does not do Sarri’s Napoli justice. Behind the puffs of cigarette smoke and tracksuits lies a remarkable tactical brain, one which has given a whole region hope lost since the days of Diego Maradona in the 1980s.

Pep Guardiola, the hipsters’ long-standing manager of choice, may well have been ousted by the Italian in bullish, unfaltering, typical Sarri style. It'll be fascinating to see them go head-to-head in the Champions League when Manchester City face the Partenopei.

Napoli is a team laden with talent, however such this alone does not develop the level of style and swagger Sarri’s side possesses. One of Napoli’s understated strengths is their symmetry and design. The term ‘methodical’ in the sporting circle would commonly be used to describe a process considered mundane, but Sarri’s Napoli explore an approach that encourages freedom, fluid movement and interchangeability. Common patterns and movements typify Sarri’s incredibly successful system, with overlaps and overloads down the left flank being a critical part of how Napoli play.

The excellent Faouzi Ghoulam’s balance with his opposite counterpart Elseid Hysaj allows him to break free infield, with Marek Hamsik overlapping him in wide positions. This symbiotic movement creates panic and confusion amongst the opposition defence, and this, coupled with the free rein talisman Lorenzo Insigne has to drift wherever he pleases, helps to create a chaotic attacking system comfortable within its tactical parameters.

However, to accuse Sarri’s football of being one-dimensional would be wrong, as last season’s emergence of Dries Mertens as one of the finest centre-forwards in European football disproves this notion. The diminutive Belgian’s relationship with Insigne is nothing short of mesmerising, and the individual quality of such players coupled with the excellent framework around them propels Napoli to an elite level.

Where Sarri differs from his now dethroned peer Guardiola is that his brand excels in its simplicity. The Spaniard is often critiqued for his teams lacking defensive performances and choppy team selection, all of which alters the balance of his sides, giving them a sometimes-unwanted unpredictability. Conversely, Napoli’s continuity and balance is testament to the way in which they are still so successful, even with a familiar tactical framework. There is no confusion or disorganisation in Sarri’s system: everybody has their role and it combines style and substance, making Neapolitans hopeful.

Critics may question the lack of silverware to show for Sarri’s reign at Napoli, however Serie A over the past few years has been like no other league. Juventus’ near freakish brilliance has hamstrung their competitors, but should the Old Lady endure a season of inconsistency, Napoli will be ready to pounce.

The sky is the limit for this current Napoli team. It is evidently close knit, and with them all united under the umbrella of #SarriFootball, it is not surprising to see why they are the hipsters’ preferred choice.

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Have your say...
No, Dimitri. You are the idiot. Concentrate on your own (4-1) defence, and stop waxing lyricals about coaches who have won nothing, and hurling insults at supporters of a team who has actually won something (lots of things), in the past 6 years....
on the 10th September, 2017 at 9:06pm
Only real haters could talk shit about Sarri & Napoli! Usually Juve fans, and we all know what kinda idiots we're talkin about! I, as a Milan fan, have never hidden my admiration for Napoli overall, let alone after this genius had come. There's no other team that deserves the Scudetto as much as Napoli & Sarri! The ones who say "What has he won so far?", well, let me see some of the other coaches leading Napoli, what will they win!
Thus, I really hope Sarri stays in Napoli after this season too
on the 9th September, 2017 at 2:40pm
"Sarri, Sarri, Sarri".....bla bla bla...... what exactly has he won....???????? The man is 58 years old and has won DIDDLY SQUAT. Coaches in their early forties have won more than him. Am SO tired of this trendy admiration for him. All he is is a sour old washed out banker who couldn't cut it in the financial world, and has been hyped up by that other fool De Laurentiis. I may be proved wrong and he may win this season, but up to now, I firmly believe all this credit is unwarranted.
on the 9th September, 2017 at 9:01am
In a way Sarri's calcio could benefit the Azzurri no end, but as a dark horse, I would consider Jesus of Sporting Lisbon.
on the 8th September, 2017 at 2:50pm
Will win Serie A and do some damage in CL.
on the 8th September, 2017 at 1:43pm
@linton houston


How are you enjoying the MLS???
on the 8th September, 2017 at 9:36am
all that poster does is talk about Milik... who would you replace him for in the lineup? This isn't Milik FC
on the 8th September, 2017 at 1:16am
Don't you believe A. Milik is clasic 9 ?
on the 7th September, 2017 at 10:09pm
Can't wait for him to supersede ventura... u read it here first lol...
on the 7th September, 2017 at 9:58pm
Guardiola - winner
Sarri- loser

Major difference.
on the 7th September, 2017 at 8:53pm
Easily the neutrals favorite Serie A team. The only negative, they have a solid squad with a strong 11 and depth on the bench after years with same team and coach(unlike Milan(s), roma, Lazio). I understand that they didn't want to make too many changes to maintain chemistry and etc. BUT they could've seriously closed the gap to juve this summer with 2-3 big buys. A strong full back, seasoned gk and a classic 9. They wont win the scudetto but a 2nd place finish and good c league run for sure.
on the 7th September, 2017 at 6:52pm
Napoli's football is so easy on the eyes. Kudos to Sarri, and the ADL for rejecting offers and retaining his stars.

I do hope Napoli continue to be a dominant top-3 force in Serie A and if not for Milan(which is still ways away) - knock off Juve off their repeated calcio conquests.
on the 7th September, 2017 at 4:44pm
Terrible title, don't know what editor forced that one on you. Good article though.

Point is: Doesn't amount to much if Sarri doesn't win something.
on the 7th September, 2017 at 3:01pm
Napoli are a joy to watch and Sarri is a brilliant manager. I can see them finally winning Serie A this season.
on the 7th September, 2017 at 2:28pm
Gi-Al-Lorossi !00% with you
on the 7th September, 2017 at 1:56pm
As a Roma I am jealous of the continuity within the Napoli squad. Retaining most of their key players every summer allows them to anticipate each others movements far more readily, resulting in the fluid football and intricate patterns described above it also maintains morale and trust within the squad. Roma rip it up and start again each summer, both with coaches and playing staff, meaning by the time players are familiar with their new tactics & teammates its almost time to start again.
on the 7th September, 2017 at 9:36am

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