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Why Chelsea shouldn't hire Maurizio Sarri

Saturday 26th May 2018

On paper, Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri seem a match made in heaven. Far too long, Stamford Bridge has been starved of entertaining, high-octane football. Are the Blues, though, prepared to meet the requisite by trading accolades for pleasure?

Sarri's Napoli could only follow the 2015/16 Champions League from the screen, yet the Italian coach was critical of Diego Simeone’s tactics. The Argentine reached the final. To get there, Atletico Madrid edged out Bayern Munich 2-2 on aggregate. Carrying an away goal from Germany, Los Rojiblancos sat on their slender cushion in the return leg, showing no interest in crossing the halfway line.  

Sarri wasn't impressed. 

If I saw my team defending and counter-attacking after 30 minutes, I would get up and return to the bank because I would not be having fun.

Sarri meant every word. He had ditched a highly-prosperous banking career to seat on football dugouts. Returning wouldn’t be a problem should he choose.

These days, Antonio Conte’s approach shares a striking similarity to Simeone’s. A far cry from his debut, the Chelsea boss has become extremely defensive, provoking and unnecessarily cautious. Judging by his stance, Sarri must have been irked by his compatriot’s setup in last Saturday's FA Cup final. In defeating Manchester United, the Blues retreated in the second half.

To Sarri, it's attack or nothing. He exposed his unique philosophy to the continent last season. Napoli flaunted an exhilarating attacking force. Even though Juventus and AS Roma finished ahead in the standings, Gli Azzurri amassed a record 94 goals.

Sarri's reputation has surged even further this campaign. Napoli appealed to the hipsters: unafraid to launch offensives irrespective of the opposition. As well as working on a low budget, he achieved success with the same crop inherited from Rafael Benitez

For all Maurizio Sarri's tactical mastery and super man-management, Napoli have bottled it at crucial times. Twice in three years, the Scudetto was there for the taking. Particularly the just-concluded campaign. A more adaptable manager would have known when to seal things up. Having never previously tasted success, Sarri was bereft of ideas.

While Juve's domestic stronghold could be blamed for the slump, Sarri had no excuse during his Empoli stint. He lost the play-off final in his first year. When promotion eventually came, the side were promptly banished to the Serie B.

At a competitive club like Chelsea, striving for every single honour, patience isn't afforded.

If that’s not reason enough to turn the Blues off, then Sarri's personal demeanour should be. He is a well-known chain smoker, who turns to cigarettes during games for comfort. It would be breaking the law attempting to indulge his hobby in England's enclosed public places.    

Considering his theatrics, Sarri may struggle to win over the Chelsea fans. Stamford Bridge's home dugout has been graced by some of the game's most charismatic managers in recent times. Jose Mourinho, Conte, and Benitez among others. The 59-year-old maverick bucks this trend due to his inexplicable dislike for press conferences and the media. He once verbally attacked a female journalist: “you're a woman, you're nice, so I won't tell you to f*ck off."

Conte has obviously lost his magic touch. A change at Chelsea's helm is imminent. Sarri, however, isn't the answer.   

Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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