Monday May 28 2018
Sarri enters Abramovich trap

In some ways, Maurizio Sarri is the ideal Coach for Roman Abramovich's Chelsea, but Daryl Hammond worries he won't get the time to prove it.

Since buying Chelsea in 2003, Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich has longed for three things. Success in England, success in Europe, and to do it all playing attractive football.

Several millions later, he cracked the code to the Premier League title in two years, and has won 15 domestic trophies during his tenure. And they conquered Europe against all odds, beating Bayern to win the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League a year later. But through all that success, his sides have never been the most stylish.

Their two most recent managers, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, are famed for a defensive approach. Left behind this season by sides like Manchester City and Liverpool, who play exciting attacking football, Chelsea have targeted a man who does this brand better than most in Maurizio Sarri. His patented ‘Sarriball’ has turned Napoli into a force to be admired for their football and their achievements. It’s quick, it’s incisive and it’s entertaining.

Pep Guardiola, both an admirer and exhibiter of attacking football, paid Sarri perhaps the greatest compliment to his Napoli side after a win with Manchester City. “They are one of the best teams I think in Europe – probably the best team I've faced in my career.”

After a toxic season on and off the pitch, they need a change, and Sarri can be that breath of fresh air. Chelsea’s squad has as much quality as Napoli’s and is certainly deeper. One would envision Eden Hazard to be the main beneficiary of his management, freed up to play his game in a system geared to giving him the ball in advantageous positions like it does for Lorenzo Insigne or Dries Mertens. Willian and Pedro also can run in behind from wide positions.

He may look to a new right-back, and getting the right pieces in midfield will be a priority. With one or two additions, maybe he can get them playing the way he wants before too long.

Not that the 59-year-old will swagger in on the first day with a particularly long list of world class player demands, like his predecessor. After Higuain’s record €90m move to Juventus, the tactician didn’t want a big-money replacement. In fact he once called the transfer market “something that bad Coaches seek refuge in.” He prefers to improve players, which could breathe new life into the likes of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Ross Barkley and Alvaro Morata, whose quality has been called into question.

Sarri will do everything in his power to make his system work. Which might be his undoing.

The only Coach to truly try and break the mould at Chelsea under Abramovich was Andre-Villas Boas. Young and ambitious, but his attempts at playing a high line with an ageing John Terry saw him out of a job before the season was through. The players were not comfortable with it, but more importantly they stopped winning. As flashy as Chelsea’s football may be under Sarri, if results don’t follow, he won’t be there too long.

Napoli picked things up quickly in their first season with him. After one win in five, they then only lost once in the next 19. But coming off the back of a World Cup, and with most of his staff staying behind at Napoli, pre-season won’t be the smoothest.

Sarri won’t fight transfers like Conte did, but God forbid if you try to tell him how to play football. Some managers are more malleable, but Chelsea always go for the best. And the best are more often than not dead set on doing things their way.

Moreover, for a club where success is everything, Sarri’s CV is a little lacking in silverware. He has won a few personal accolades, but little else in his 13 years as a Coach. In the bubble of Serie A, finishing runners up to Juventus is an achievement, but no silverware casts doubts.

Far more decorated managers have been forced to clear out their office at Cobham for very little. Even an FA Cup win this year could not save Conte.

If anything, the last of Abramovich’s three objectives is a trap. Attractive football or any sort of progress towards it will always be a distant second to immediate success. Sarri needs to hit the ground running at Chelsea, or his stint at Stamford Bridge will be short-lived.

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Have your say...
Theo, maybe you need a little education? Sarri has not walked away, he was replaced as Manager. He is in fact still employed by Napoli. Chelsea can beg all they like but unless they splash the cash, they get nothing. Serie A is a far better run league than the rabble which is the EPL. Money does not make you smart.
on the 13th June, 2018 at 11:55pm
Since the day he arrived people have been saying that Roman is going to sell Chelsea. This based on facts but just pure hate and jealousy.Roman loves Chelsea to his core and it will remain in his ownership until the day he dies, and so sorry to all you haters but we will keep on winning Trophies even in so called bad seasons.Liverpool once again win nothing and get praised to the hilt, Chelsea win yet another trophy and we have had a bad season. Laughable
on the 30th May, 2018 at 12:47am
Haha @Theo Serie A in the ashes? Roma knocked out on bad refereeing against Liverpool, Juventus 2 finals in 3 years. Napoli toe to toe with Manchester City with a 10th of the budget. In the ashes? On the contrary. New TV deal plus 4 teams qualify for CL I see a resurgence in Serie A not decline. We still boast the best tactics and passion, compiled with additional revenue we will rise and better players will be arrive. Your observation is poorly routed.
on the 29th May, 2018 at 12:49pm
The EPL was done and dusted months before the end!

Such was Manchester City dominance of the League.

A team with several top international players + manager and 2 good, but nowhere near top, English players.......

That a third, not first 11, only above average player then is selected by England to go to Russia, says it all!
on the 29th May, 2018 at 1:43am

you are so wrong it is scary serie a in trouble no one denies that but to think england is the future is absurd.

The top league can't players or managers 68% of the players in the premier league are foreign. The coaching situation isn't much better with 4 out of the 20 being English.

It is a league which lives on vast amounts of money being splurged into it where foreign players and coaches provide most of the quality and new ideas in the league.
on the 28th May, 2018 at 10:52pm
It is a job where time is limited even for the their successful coaches. Still sarri potentially gets his hand on a club with real top quality players and a budget to match that.
on the 28th May, 2018 at 10:41pm
It is a job where time is limited even for the their successful coaches. Still sarri potentially gets his hand on a club with real top quality players and a budget to match that.
on the 28th May, 2018 at 10:41pm
Anything is better than sinking and drowning in the corpse of the dead league known as Serie A.

Good for Sarri abandoning this sinking ship of a league as fast as he could.

The future is England, the future is Spain, the future is France. The ashes is Italy.
on the 28th May, 2018 at 6:24pm
Conte is not getting sacked because of this so called 'trap'

Look at what he did, he went from 2nd to 5th in 2 months, how is that acceptable for any manager? and he did it while complaining that his players suck and nothing is his fault. Yeah right

If Sarri keeps a good relationship with the board and players and they communicate well he wont be sacked that easily but it depends on himself
on the 28th May, 2018 at 12:31pm
Sarri is NOT yet the Chelsea manager so this article is rubbish. They have to pay the clause and ADL won't haggle. Chelsea still need to tell Conte he's being let go. It will cost Chelsea in the region of at least £30 million to get Sarri if you include what they have to pay Conte and with no Champions League too. Even though they have the money I cannot see it happenning as Abromovich has his own personal problems even getting into the UK! My guess he will sell Chelsea!
on the 28th May, 2018 at 12:15pm

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