The Maurizio Sarri era at Stamford Bridge will always spark debate, did he deserve more time? Was he unfairly treated? Was he too stubborn? The questions go on.
Despite the split between the fan base last season, Sarri still managed to make the top four and win a trophy, which is usually what Roman Abramovich expects when he employs a head coach/manager.
So even though the Italian manager met the requirements of the people above him, including Marina Granovskaia (Director at Chelsea), the sacking has since deemed to be based on the relationship with his playing squad.
Kepa turned manager
A highlighting factor of this assumption occurred in February 2019, when Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, who eventually won on penalties. Sarri was furious and decided against storming down the tunnel, even though this was his initial thought.
After all was said and done, especially with Sarri now managing Juventus, the former Napoli boss has spoken out on his one season at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri made it very simple when he was asked on building a relationship with the players: “They do not change, but the surroundings do, and this means you need more time.”
It begs the question on what Sarri could’ve achieved at Chelsea, as the breaking in period still saw silverware and Champions League qualification.
It seems a simple equation, better players, means better success. Despite this partly being true, evidently, the underlying dominating factor lies elsewhere according to the Juve boss.
“Higher profile players make it more difficult to build relationships”, admitted Sarri, which is ironic because Cristiano Ronaldo has netted 25 goals in 32 games this season. “There were conflicting relationships between myself and the players in the first half of my tenure, but after the Europa League final I cried.”
Despite not seeing eye to eye with numerous players at Chelsea, it’s nice to see that there was emotion upon success. Even though Sarri won’t make it in the hall of fame at Stamford Bridge, sharing a trophy and emotion with the players is a nice touch, after Sarri confirmed: “a lot of the players also cried after the final.”
So why was there dispute between the staff at Chelsea?
In the defence of Sarri, he confirmed: “I am not the type of guy that puts an arm around the shoulder, if someone makes a mistake, they will know about it.”
Maybe this is a side effect of a revolving door policy at Stamford Bridge, maybe previous managers would’ve softened the blow with certain players after mistakes. But ultimately, it was a case of the players not being familiar with the way Sarri operated.
The previous manager at Stamford Bridge, Antonio Conte, was a very animated figure for Chelsea. His personality differs to Sarri in such way. Much of the current crop at Chelsea spent two years with the current Inter Milan manager, achieving Premier League and F.A. Cup glory.
So, is this the main factor between the conflict under Sarri?
Conte would celebrate with the players, offer a hug, his idea of congratulations is very extroverted. Sarri, the opposite, very much an introvert.
“If you do well, the most you will get is a “Bravo” as you walk past," said Sarri. This may have well been the issue with the players, maybe they were confused why there wasn’t an upbeat vibe in the dressing room after big victories.
Sarri joined Juventus in the summer of 2019, being replaced by Frank Lampard at the Bridge, who has opted for the emergence of Cobham academy products into the first team. Juventus sit top of the Serie A under Sarri, nine points ahead of Conte’s Inter Milan. The two have faced each other twice this season, both victories going to Sarri after a 2-0 home win in March, before travelling to the San Siro and coming away with a 1-2 win in August.