Maurizio Sarri believes he would’ve been “overwhelmed” by Chelsea critics, but has higher ambitions than the Europa League Final. “If we don’t win, it’ll be a huge disappointment.”
The Blues beat German side Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties on Thursday night, and set up a final showdown with Arsenal in Baku on May 29.
“Five years ago, when I was still at Empoli, if someone told me I would be playing in the final of the Europa League, I would have dismissed the idea because my goal was to reach the Champions League Final and maybe win it.
“Now if we go to Baku for the final and don’t lift the cup, I would see it as a huge disappointment,” the technician told the Corriere dello Sport and Gazzetta dello Sport.
“So much work for nothing. We want to bring the trophy home, but against Arsenal, it won’t be easy.”
Fans of the London club had been venting their frustration with the 60-year-old former Napoli tactician by calling for his dismissal earlier in the season.
“If I wasn’t strong, they would have overwhelmed me. In England it is really tough, look at the level of the top teams in the Premier League. It is the best league in Europe and therefore the World.
“We were good at not losing ourselves on the road three months ago. When we slipped down the table, they were highly critical, but the team reacted well. The players never gave up, and for me, it was a positive season.”
Sarri again shrugged off reports of an imminent return to Serie A, despite interest from Milan, Roma and perhaps even Juventus.
"In England, I feel good and I want to stay here. I don’t even miss the sun. For me, life is the same in both countries. I work 14 hours a day, and when I'm not at work, I’m thinking of work.
“It’s like a different planet here when it comes to organisation, infrastructure and atmosphere in the stadiums. They don’t snub anything, as even the cup competitions are given so much value.
“Now we are in the Europa League Final. It was really exhausting with Eintracht Frankfurt, as we should have killed off the game in the first half. I didn’t want to watch the last two penalties in the shoot-out.
“Reaching the final stirred up some emotions, yes, but the ones I felt in Napoli will never be repeated. It was this powerful, essential wave of emotion sweeping everyone up and that feeling remains.
“Maybe I don’t know what happiness is yet. If we should win the Europa League, I might be able to taste that sensation, but this win did nonetheless give me a strong emotional response.”