As one of the best attacking football players to ever grace our planet, Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola knows a thing or two about beautiful football.
Now second-in-command to Maurizio Sarri, he is going to have a key role in bringing (at least aesthetically) beautiful football back to Stamford Bridge, helping the new head coach implement the playing style that became known as “Sarrismo” at Empoli and Napoli. The possession-based system, heavy on one-touch passing, fluid movement and compact lines in all phases, is unquestionably easy on the eyes.
But it’s not something that can be learned and implemented in a day or a week or even a month. In his introductory press conference, Sarri said he needed “a long time” to do so in his previous experiences, and that translated to roughly three months at Napoli before things started clicking.
Three months is an eternity in football, especially at Chelsea. Jose Mourinho went from champion to sacked in barely four months; Champions League-winner Di Matteo lasted even shorter from the start of his non-interim season.
Patience will be needed, but that’s not always in great supply around these parts (be that from the owner, from the board members, or even the fans). That’s why Zola’s urging patience in his first official interview since his appointment, even if this attempt to head-off any discord in the near future is unlikely to make that much of a difference (just as it made no difference when he urged Conte and Chelsea to settle their differences amicably).
“It was very important [sharing the same football philosophy]. This is the type of philosophy that this club is looking for at the moment, so I think it can be a very good marriage. Maurizio can give the club what they are looking for and I believe at the beginning, everybody, the environment will have to be a little bit patient.”
”It is an odd year with the World Cup and Maurizio coming one week later, his philosophy and the way he plays it will need a little bit of time to settle.”
“As long as the people at the club supports the club and will have a little bit of patience with him I am sure they will get what they are expecting.”
But before things turn indubitably sour — in three months or three years — we just might have some fun. Conte’s word was “work”, Sarri’s word is “fun”.
“First of all I like from Maurizio the way that his teams play football. They are very organised, very good defensively but also play very good football. I always like coaches that promote this type of football.”
“Then the more I am spending time with him the more I am appreciating the man, the person. He is a really good guy. He looks very serious, but in reality he is good fun, he likes to have a laugh even when we are working. This is a very good thing.”
-Gianfranco Zola; Source: Chelsea TV via football.london
Fun or not, Sarri’s fate will of course be determined by how many games Chelsea win. Will he be fun like Ancelotti (first season) or will he be [funned] like AVB or Scolari?
We probably won’t have to be too patient to find out.