If Maurizio Sarri makes it through his first season in England unscathed, his first order of business will be to do next preseason differently. After all, no coach would wish for themselves to arrive at a new team in a new country with just a few weeks left to prepare a globe-trotting squad missing most of its key players for most of that time. But that’s exactly what Sarri has been dealing with for the past month, and will continue to deal with for the foreseeable future.
“Will I change pre-season next year? Completely, I think. I arrived in the middle of July, so the problem was there. I have to accept it completely, but I think, for the future, it will be better to change it.
”I think that my perfect programme of pre-season is not completely in line with the programme of the club. So we have to arrive at a compromise.”
In the off-cameras portion of his pre-match press conference on Friday, Sarri assured that the Chelsea powers that be know the situation “very well”, but Conte used to claim that the Board know the situation well, as well (his thing was transfers rather than scheduling or expectations), yet that situation still resulted in his eventual downfall, despite all the supposed knowledge and understanding.
“For sure, in this moment, we are not at the top of our potential. We did a preseason... what can I say... unusual, maybe. So now we are not at the top.
”I hope to be at the top of the potential of the squad in one or two months, but I don’t know. I hope that the second part of the season, for us, will be very good with a lot of points. But I expect in the first part of the season some problems.
“What kind of problems? On the results. Maybe the performances in the first part of the season will not be in line with the potential of the squad. Maybe, in the first part.
“They (the board) know it. They know it very well.”
Sounds ominous already.
Still, the only thing we can do is work hard and play hard and then hopefully have some fun, too, at some point.
“I think you have to wait for a couple of months (to see Sarri-ball). You have to wait.
“In Naples we played at great speed, ball forward, ball back, with continuity, with great speed with the strikers. So it was fun for the supporters. And useful for the results, I think. [...] Can you play the same way in England? I don’t know. It depends on the characteristics of the Premier League and of my players. I have to adapt myself on the characteristics of the players, and not vice versa.”
With plenty of expected problems and growing pains in the first part of the season, the usual pressure will not be far behind. Sarri will of course always claim that he’s used to pressure — imagine if he ever said otherwise! — but Napoli pressure is not quite the same as he’s likely to experience here.
“I am used to being under pressure. So I think it’s not a problem. The only pressure that I feel is my pressure, is inside, more than outside. So the pressure was very strong, also, in Naples. So, for me, it’s normal.”
Sarri may be used to pressure, which is good, but the vast majority of his players are also used to something, which is less than good. In fact, it’s detrimental and still needs to be unlearned.
“If we are able to play at another speed, maybe scoring will not be a problem for us. But at this moment, at this current speed, it may be a problem. Conte plays another football. The players in this moment need to think what to do too much, and so the ball is not moved at the right speed.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Evening Standard
The one thing that we’re all used to and that will not and should not change is the expectation of winning. Fun or no fun, Sarri-ball or Conte-ball, proactive or reaction, the titles must continue to flow.
If all that makes it sound like we need (another) miracle like two years ago, you might be right.
Good luck to us all.