Maurizio Sarri’s time at Chelsea came to an end last week as he put pen to paper on a three-year contract at Juventus. His rise through the lower ranks of football has been an inspirational one making his appointment at the Italian giants look even more impressive; but how will his time in London be remembered and will Chelsea regret losing the Italian?
Whilst Chelsea will be paid a £5m compensation package from the Serie A outfit, it seemed that the relationship between club and manager had run its course. Similarly to most Italian managers, Sarri’s strong desire to join The Old Lady meant he snapped up the offer without much hesitation, and with his work at Napoli and success whilst at Chelsea, he seemed the perfect candidate to take over from Massimiliano Allegri.
It’s fair to say that his spell at Chelsea was rather turbulent – a fantastic start to the season was followed by a dip in form which led to vast criticisms of ‘Sarri ball’, regarding the style that the Italian had been implementing.
Ultimately his departure does not seem to concern Chelsea fans at all, but should it? Despite the poor run mid-season, Chelsea reached the Champions League spots and beat Arsenal in Baku to win the Europa League – a successful season many would say.
When we look at the stats, should Chelsea have put up a bigger fight to keep hold of Sarri? With Frank Lampard favourite to take over at Chelsea, fans seem to be quickly forgetting about the Sarri era and excitement of the potential homecoming of a club legend leaves Sarri’s reign nothing but a distant memory.
With this in mind, 90MAAT ask the question – should Sarri be forgotten, or remembered as a man who won Chelsea one of the most prestigious club competitions in world football?
In his season in charge, Sarri mustered up a 63% win rate which places him amongst some of the highest managerial Premier League win rates – especially of those who only served a club for a single season. Interestingly Antonio Conte’s win rate was around 70% which says something about the club.
Chelsea are not a team that solely rely on a successful win rate; there has to be confidence from the fans and the board which Sarri never seemed to have. Bizarrely, a high win rate does not seem to guarantee this vital assurance that managers at the club need.
That leaves us asking the question – what do you actually need to do to see out your contract as Chelsea manager? Few men have done so in recent years and few have even had contract extensions. Sarri proved he was a capable manager and by the end of the season his philosophy was taking shape. However, it was clear that this relationship never truly clicked and an offer from Juventus was enough to lure Sarri away and for his tenure to be cut short.
Will Sarri be missed?
As much as Chelsea’s fanbase have not been phased by Sarri’s departure, it feels slightly like a missed opportunity from the club. Sarri had not always been the most popular nor held the same glamorous allure of previous managers such as Jose Mourinho, Conte or Ruud Gullit and sometimes his style of play did not seem to be taking shape.
His decision to advance Ngolo Kante to install Jorginho into the deeper midfield role seemed to cost Chelsea some of that defensive protection that won them the league under Conte. While this may have been the cause of some of their poorer performances this season, the Italian manager did everything that was asked of him in his one season in charge.
This comes in the form of a Europa League win and a top-four spot in the league, yet he also created a well-functioning team by the end of the season – which after Conte’s departure looked an incredibly difficult challenge. He was also actively searching for a striker to spearhead the at times blunt attack and the loan of Gonzalo Higuain appeared to fulfill this requirement.
Chelsea are one of the big-six that have drifted away from the high standards that Manchester City and Liverpool set this season. However, unlike a team such as Arsenal who are committing to a rebuilding job under Unai Emery, Chelsea do not seem to share that willingness.
There appears to be no commitment to a direction that the club is going in. As we have learned in recent years, a change of manager every year or so can bring short term success but it does not provide stability or a clear vision for the club. Liverpool and Manchester City hired Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola and have backed them both into periods of success. Chelsea and Manchester United have frequently changed managers and this has been the reason why they have drifted from the standards they have set in the Premier League era.
When Maurizio Sarri was hired there was support and anticipation as to what he could bring to Chelsea. His style of play at Napoli was hailed as some of the most attractive football around and there appeared to be a desire from the Chelsea board to allow him to implement that same style of play. However, Chelsea’s board seem to have done what they always do and got rid of a manager who has not fit in immediately. Yes, Sarri wanted to go to Juventus but if he was supported for finishing in the top four and winning the Europa League perhaps he would have viewed his latest job offer with more circumspection.
What next for Chelsea?
With Frank Lampard waiting for an offer, perhaps a club legend will earn the long term and much-needed backing of the board at Chelsea and he appears to be the right man for the job. He has played a young, exciting and attacking team at Derby and with a two-window transfer ban, the club needs a manager who will back youth. While fans will be happy with Lampard, they should also be upset after letting a man go who seemed to be steering the club in the right direction – but that could all be forgotten with a successful campaign next year.