It's a rather poorly kept secret that there's a fair amount of ongoing palpable discord between Chelsea's first team coach Antonio Conte and the club's hierarchy, the situation having worsened continuously since the start of the current season. Due to these circumstances and the largely disappointing season thus far, there are a lot of signs that seem to be pointing towards an exit of the Italian coach.
While the fan base is largely divided in its opinion regarding the matter whether or not Conte should stay, European media outlets have constantly been linking Chelsea with various different candidates, Thomas Tuchel, Luis Enrique, and Carlo Ancelotti representing a few possibilities. Most of these potential coaches haven't necessarily filled supporters with confidence as each of them brings certain risks with them, though this will be the case for more or less any incoming manager. Among all these mentioned names, one stands out for me: Maurizio Sarri.
You might be asking yourself why specifically Sarri. Last week, I noticed an article by Alex McGovern (a writer for 'Bleacher Report' and 'TheseFootballTimes') on Twitter which was being heftily retweeted by several 'big' Chelsea based accounts and decided to give it a read. The topic was the mentioned Napoli coach and I can honestly say that I've rarely ever been so impressed and easily swayed by a piece of writing concerning possible coaching successors at Chelsea as I have after reading McGovern's article.
I must confess that, while I've watched the odd Napoli game in recent history, I hadn't really ever dealt with the 59-year old Italian coach in detail and prior links regarding Chelsea setting out to activate his €8 Million release clause had been met with quite some scepticism. However, Alex eloquently and convincingly explains why Sarri would make perfect sense as our next head coach.
The position as Chelsea manager has been a very demanding one since Roman Abramovich took over in 2003, not only due to the owner himself but also due to the fans' constantly growing expectations. Chelsea's ascendancy to a European powerhouse has led to the idea that a coach needs to combine all the necessary qualities in order to be a long term success and Alex McGovern addresses exactly why Maurizio Sarri offers the perfect mix.
Next to providing some great quotes made by the Italian coach, the article can be divided into two main parts, namely a look at Sarri's historical record and impressive climb to the top of professional football, on the one hand, and, on the other, why the current Chelsea board would love the 59 year old and why they'd most certainly deem him a perfect fit.
The latter part is especially intriguing as Alex illustrates Sarri's strength of developing players, transforming them from under performers to key players who continuously put in fantastic displays. The comparison of players' individual records pre and post Sarri is quite stunning and Alex's part on how Sarri integrates young players is something which will be especially appealing for some of our fans. Consequently, the Italian coach's preference to utilize the squad to its best extent instead of being active in the transfer market (which he reportedly despises) will be music to the ears of the Chelsea board.
While there is an apparent necessity for decisive transfers in the upcoming summer, I personally perceive it as reassuring that Sarri tries to work with what he's got and does so to the greatest extent possible, doing a fantastic job in the process. Next to his ability regarding player development and man management, this is something I hold in high regard and gives me the impression that he'd be a great fit here.
I won't go into greater detail about Alex's historical account of Sarri's ascendancy, as well as his explanation why one must distinguish between the Italian and other coaches in regard to not having won trophies yet, as you should go and give it a read yourself. All I can say is that it paints a very exciting picture of what Chelsea could be in store for if we decide to bring in the Italian.
Delighted to debut for @thesefootytimes, a publication I'm a big fan of. I've laid out the argument why Chelsea should replace Conte with Napoli's Maurizio Sarri. In researching this I've become convinced he's the right man for the job.— Alex McGovern (@AlexMcGovern11) March 22, 2018
RTs appreciated!→https://t.co/yp64Sx1nkL pic.twitter.com/Z8INk2IFwV
For me, the main reasons why I'd like to see Maurizio Sarri replace Conte are that the former's philosophy of football is completely different, being more expansive and attacking in style compared to Antonio's rather conservative approach to the game. The same can be said for the twos' handling of the press as Conte consistently criticizing everyone at the club combined with his pessimistic talk regarding our squad and players isn't helping our cause. Sarri, on the other hand, is the complete opposite and Alex illustrates this well.
Of course, I'm aware that a fair bit of the critique Conte aims towards the board is reasonable and something most fans, including myself, are also criticizing; however, there's no use doing so on a permanent basis outside of the transfer window as quotes, such as those right before the Barcelona away game, are just ludicrous and won't do our players any favours confidence-wise.
As already mentioned above, the major plus point that speaks for Sarri, and is primarily why I'd love him to come to Chelsea, is his tendency to use the players/youth he has around him, rather developing them successfully than dip extensively into the transfer market. The Italian would most probably do very well being able to choose from such a big pool of players such as our loan army and this would give us enough depth (at the very least) in order to concentrate on qualitative instead of quantitative signings. Sarri's reluctance in transfer dealings wouldn't really prove to be stumbling block, either, as we all know who's really in charge of that area anyway.
The only two reasons I can think of which speak against an appointment of the 59 year old are that he hasn't really taken his chances and proven himself on an international level (though Conte hadn't really done so, either), as well as Sarri's ongoing contract talks with Napoli. If he signs a new contract and the release clause disappears then I'm pretty sure he won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
I'd like to state that this article isn't intended to be disrespectful towards current Chelsea boss Antonio Conte as he's naturally still our first team coach. Conte is part of Chelsea and we should therefore support him until the end, despite being entitled to leveling critique against him. I merely intended to underline the strong arguments Alex's piece illustrates and any potential move is completely hypothetical at this point. Nevertheless, we have to be realistic and accept that a departure of Conte is a very possible scenario.
Finally, I want to thank Alex McGovern for his great piece of work and would like to encourage everyone who hasn't given the original article a go yet to do so as even if you're not convinced by Sarri it's a fantastic read and gives a lot of food for thought!