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Wednesday July 18 2018
Sarri a real departure for Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri is Italian like Antonio Conte, but Chelsea fans will learn the similarities largely end there, writes Nick Valerio.

Averaging a trophy a year in his time in charge, Antonio Conte was the latest in a long line of high-profile Coaches to receive his marching orders from the Stamford Bridge hot seat.

Successor Maurizio Sarri, who has finally taken his place in the dugout after his will-he-won’t-he saga, will be charged with bringing a sense of stability to a pre-season that has descended in to chaos.

Star forward Eden Hazard, one of the best performers in Russia, continues to attract the eye of Real Madrid and the feeling is the reigning Champions League holders will finally make their move for the talented Belgian. Elsewhere, stopper Thibaut Courtois could also be following his compatriot to the Santiago Bernabeu, as Sarri adapts to life in London.

Nevertheless, the 59-year-old will embark on his biggest test to date and the Chelsea fanbase should be excited. Sarri’s career highlight is taking Napoli from fifth spot under Rafa Benitez, to pushing Juventus all the way in the race for the Scudetto, and while the Partenopei ultimately fell short, this shouldn’t discredit the immense transformation Sarri made to not just the likes of Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens, but the club as whole. Carlo Ancelotti has big shoes to fill.

Conte wasn’t afraid to make his presence known, particularly on the touchline, and Sarri is not dissimilar. The former banker certainly made his mark in his homeland and can be described as charismatic, controversial, passionate, a genius, but undoubtedly deserving of his big chance in the Premier League.

The immediate question aimed at Sarri is his ability to win silverware. Is this fierce Italian cut out for the rigours of English football and capable of winning major honours? With all due respect to Napoli, Sarri can forget about prioritising one competition over another, as he did last term, and Chelsea are expected to advance far in the 2018-19 Europa League. Squad rotation is something he always baulked at, but it has to be part of the modern game.

Sarri is famed for his free-flowing, swashbuckling style of football and this stylistic difference between predecessor and current Italian will be immediately obvious for Blues supporters once Chelsea take to the field. The 2016-17 league champions are expected to line up in the tried and tested 4-3-3 formation which has served the former Empoli boss so well and in Jorginho, Sarri has a general and on-field conductor to aid the process from 3-4-3.

Despite his reputation, Sarri is no tactical dogmatist. His Empoli played with a trequartista in the hole behind the strikers and he only adapted to 4-3-3 after finding Lorenzo Insigne didn’t fit the system. The biggest problem he may encounter at Stamford Bridge is the lack of pre-season training time, essential for someone whose whole philosophy is built on well-drilled routines, movements and runs.

Unlike Conte’s often counter-attacking approach, Sarri’s sides will always take the initiative, try to dominate possession and complete multiple passes. It’s a more Italianised version of tiki-taka, and therefore no wonder Sarri is praised by Pep Guardiola.

In Italy, Sarri had his share of controversy, notably in post-match interviews, and for the last season avoided giving pre-game Press conferences at all. He tends to grasp for excuses and is entirely lacking in tact, but perhaps the switch to English will prevent his slip into somewhat salty language. But if you ask any player he managed at Napoli, they will only speak fondly of their chain-smoking chief.

Gonzalo Higuain, a reported target for Chelsea at the request of Sarri, hit a record 36 Serie A goals and his Coach inadvertently played a huge role in the Argentine’s £75m move to the Bianconeri. Meanwhile, fan favourite Kalidou Koulibaly went from error prone defender to £80m target and is one of many players to benefit under Sarri’s tutelage.

Sarri is unwavering in his philosophy and the results were spectacular. In 114 matches in charge of the Azzurri, Napoli won 79 times and only lost 13, a record which should have secured at least one league triumph if it wasn’t for Max Allegri’s relentless machine.

Equally, but admirably, this brand of play has gone the other way, with the 4-2 defeat against Roma in March a huge turning point in the title race. The Partenopei never truly recovered from the crushing defeat and Juventus inevitably assumed full control in the title race.

Under Sarri, it promises to be a captivating watch in South-West London. The Italian knows no other way of approaching the sport, but he is sure to make his mark on the English game and will relish the opportunity he has worked his whole life for. 

Have your say...
@ Italian in Canada and Beppe Rossi Why would I, you or anyone else be happy with a situation where a pretty average Juve have won 7 titles back to back because their rivals keep imploding each summer? At least next season they have Ronaldo. The key to Juve's success is stability. Every other time cannot hold onto managers or key players for more than a couple of seasons. It's embarrassing. The season's over before it's begun. Well done on your 37th title (I include the Calciopoli titles).
on the 20th July, 2018 at 12:58am
thanks FI for the brilliant 'mistaken one' video. made my day! haha
on the 19th July, 2018 at 11:13pm
I have seen many Chelsea fans delighted with the appointment due to Conte never playing any of their youngsters, well they're in for a treat with Sarri's rotation policy. If he keeps Hazard then I expect that attack to be a joy to watch next season and for Eden to finally be released.
on the 19th July, 2018 at 1:18pm
@Rosario compared to how one should behave in media, not compared to likes of Paul Gascoigne. If you need material on Sarri's statements look through Football Italia there is more then enough.
on the 19th July, 2018 at 11:46am
Off topic, but can someone tell me the logic behind ADL wanting to move Napoli - a one club city, with an official population of just under a million - into a stadium with a capacity of just 20,000? Bearing in mind that their average attendance is over 35,000, and surely, with a new stadium (and not a "public toilet" - ADL's words)they would many more fans to the ground.
on the 19th July, 2018 at 10:57am
On the plus side, Chelsea fans will see their attacking players released from their shackles and will be treated to some terrific football on a weekly basis. However, his appointment is terrible news for the many gifted young players that Chelsea's outstanding academy produces. It could be made redundant. Also, with his aversion towards rotation, Sarri will have a tough job keeping Chelsea's larger playing staff happy.
on the 19th July, 2018 at 10:39am
Nothing wrong with Serie A Maldini. You're all full of salt because your Milan is a shadow of it's old self. Broke, Sanctioned, and no real proper owner aside from a Hedge Fund who's going to sell as soon as they can turn a profit.
on the 18th July, 2018 at 10:58pm
I do find it comical that some commentators are blaming sarri for napoli failure you have a owner who rather than signing the players that sarri asked goes out and starts trolling juventus not to say i myself a lowly fan haven't done the same but still it is so unprofessional. You can only take a club so far without a ownership willing to sacrifice to back your chances for success.
on the 18th July, 2018 at 8:24pm
It is comical that the likes of ancelotti and conte had more job security in italian football than they ever had at chelsea. It is going to be the same old pattern even if they listen to sarri ideas than in a year time they lose interest and fail again. Style means nothing without silverware just look at poor old scolari was manager of the most talented technical Brazilian teams in the last 30 years they sacked him mid season. It really is a nest of vipers at chelsea good luck to sarri.
on the 18th July, 2018 at 8:20pm
@Maldini's Heir -- Serie A actually had a competitive season last season, compared to Spain or Germany, or even the EPL. The battle for first here wasn't replicated in any other league.
on the 18th July, 2018 at 6:47pm
That is not a Sarri problem, that is a Napoli problem!

I hope for them they listen to Ancelotti and he can show the whole Club how winners think!

As good as they were playing there mentality is an absolute joke!

For a good Serie A campaign, i hope they will learn from Ancelotti
on the 18th July, 2018 at 2:30pm
@mmmmmm. Uncultured swine? In comparison to who exactly? English and british football and ex footballers?
on the 18th July, 2018 at 1:19pm
Sarri will suit Arsenal more than Chelsea, also because of clubs' owners.
on the 18th July, 2018 at 12:15pm
YAAAAWN... All this "Sarri is this, Sarri is that" talk... "Beautiful football"...… The man has won NOTHING. At the ripe old age of 59. My bet is he will be gone by this time next year. All that "beautiful football" got Napoli diddly squat. And yes, he makes all sorts of stupid excuses.
on the 18th July, 2018 at 11:49am
Kalidou Koulibaly is still error prone, just as Bonucci revealed to be once he lost the cozy feeling of having Chiellini and Barzagli by his side.
Sarri needs to evolve or otherwise he will be mocked worldwide, no-rotation just cannot work and it generally doesn't make sense and it's bad for a team. He tends to be an uncultured swine but I do wish him all the best with Chelsea
on the 18th July, 2018 at 8:31am
Quiet a gamble for Chelsea to hire Sarri. Yeah, he made Napoli play beautiful football but how many trophies did he win?
If they want to get back on top, Abramovich should hire someone with winning mentality, someone who guarantees silverwares every season. Conte "failed" on his 2nd season coz Chelsea failed to sign his desired players.
If they fired successful coaches like Mourinho, DiMatteo, Ancelotti or Conte in the past .. I predict Sarri will only last a season.If he even made it.
on the 18th July, 2018 at 3:14am
Dear premier league fans,
Get ready for him to complain that he has to play before Man City, or after them, or at the same time as them, and that the refs favor them, and that the weather favors them, and that the economy favors them. This clown is full of nothing but excuses. Enjoy!
on the 18th July, 2018 at 2:51am
One of the rules of Serie A is that any team that challenges Juve must self-destruct the following summer so that Juve have a clear run to another boring title, in what is becoming the most boring league overtaking France and Scotland. I wish Sarri good luck at Chelsea but he's left a massive hole in Serie A which I'm not sure Ronaldo or Ancelotti will fill.
on the 18th July, 2018 at 2:47am
Sarri's excuses begin in 3....2.....1....
on the 18th July, 2018 at 12:48am

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