The saga that went on for nearly three months finally came to an end on Saturday when Maurizio Sarri was announced as Chelsea’s new head coach.
Since deciding to become a full-time coach at age 40, Sarri has worked his way up methodically form the lower reaches of Italian semi-pro and amateur football, to now reach the best league in the world in charge of one of the biggest clubs in the world. It’s taken him a while, almost 20 years, but that only underlines his staunch adherence to his own methods and ways of life. The Chelsea move is a culmination of that process and one that will hopefully validate it.
As part of his arrival, and as is tradition for all new players and coaches, he sat down with Chelsea TV for a series of easy questions. You can video of this for free on the official Chelsea website of the official Chelsea App (The 5th Stand), which you should probably download if you haven’t yet.
“First of all, I have to say thank you to the people of Naples because they have helped me in every way for three years. I love them very much. I love them forever.
“And then it’s very easy to answer your question as five years ago I was in Italy in Serie B.
“Chelsea is one of the most important clubs in the most important championship in Europe. So it’s easy to answer to the first question.”
That question may be easy, but the Premier Leagues is anything but. However, that challenge was actually part of the attraction of the job for Sarri, who’s looking forward to testing his mettle against the best of the best.
“In the Premier League there are all the most important coaches in Europe, maybe in the world.”
‘It will be for me very exciting to play against Guardiola, to play against Pochettino, to play against Mourinho, to play against Klopp, and all the others.”
The four coaches mentioned all have very distinctive styles, and Sarri is no different — that was one of the main reasons Chelsea went after him. But what about all the players needing to adjust? Either way, it’s Sarri-ball or bust!
“I think it’s very difficult. I want to say first of all, I love the game, I love football and all the rest is a consequence.”
“I think at Naples I was very lucky to find my players adapted to my way of football. They were strong as players, and strong from a human point of view. So I think I was lucky to transport my way of football, my idea of football on the pitch for the quality essentially of these players.
“Chelsea is a good team, the problem is that in England there is another five or six very good teams.
“I think with one or two adjustments, we can try to play my football. I want to enjoy myself first of all, the players have to enjoy themselves and most of all I hope that the fans can enjoy the team.
“Jorginho is not a physical player. He is a technical player but the most important quality is that he is very quick in the mind. So he has the ability to move the ball very quickly.”
Reminding everyone that there are six contenders is tradition for all Chelsea head coaches these days (from Mourinho on down), and it will test Sarri’s resolve to stick to his attacking football ways.
Sarri is said to lead a quiet, reclusive, almost hermetic life, in which he fills any moment not spent thinking about football by thinking some more about football. And reading books, apparently, such as the works of Nobel Prize-winning Mario Vargas Llosa.
Sarri’s command of English is certainly better than the “basic” level at which it was advertised, which should help him as he settles in to his work at Cobham. He’s taking lessons to improve as well.
“My English is not very good. I started English more than 30 years ago so in this long time unfortunately I have lost [forgot] everything.”
Last but not the least, Sarri has a message for Chelsea fans and what we should be expecting.
“100% hard work and 90% fun.
“It is impossible in my job to promise something else but I will surely give all in my possession to win something with Chelsea.”
-Maurizio Sarri; Source: Chelsea TV
Here’s hoping that the 100% work and 90% fun leaves a solid percentage for winning as well.