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Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea coaching staff finally confirmed

Three of the “four wizards” join from Napoli to continue their work with Sarri

Fittingly, given the slow burn of the rest of the summer, it took Chelsea almost three weeks to appoint and confirm Maurizio Sarri’s coaching staff. They didn’t all just arrive yesterday of course; videos from the training ground and from pre-season matches let the cat(s) out of the bag to a great extent already.

But now it’s official, so let’s run through the new faces, as well as the old and familiar ones. Unfortunately, the official website is lacking any information on the new faces at the time of this writing; hopefully that will be remedied soon.

Familiar/known faces:

HEAD COACH: Maurizio Sarri

ASSISTANT FIRST TEAM COACH: Gianfranco Zola — looks to be strictly a coaching role, and based on some interviews (e.g.: Hudson-Odoi, Barkley), already making an impact.

ASSISTANT TO THE HEAD COACH: Carlo Cudicini — interesting distinction in titles between Zola and Cudicini, the latter of whom also remains an official “Club Ambassador”. Cudicini was also “assistant to” Conte, so he basically continues in his old role.

FITNESS COACH: Paolo Bertelli — the lone holdover from the massive group that Conte brought in, the 57-year-old “fitness expert” is a near 30-year veteran of the industry. He ends a 7-year association with Conte that began at Juventus, continued with Italy, and then Chelsea.

ASSISTANT GOALKEEPER COACH: Henrique Hilário — the man, the myth, the legend himself. You have to go back to before 2006 to find a time when Hilário wasn’t a Chelsea goalkeeper or a Chelsea goalkeeper coach or the inspiration for our daily off-topic thread.

New faces:

ASSISTANT FIRST TEAM COACH: Luca Gotti reported but never confirmed a couple weeks ago. The 50-year-old is new to Sarri, like Zola, but comes with a good reputation after working with Roberto Donadoni for the past seven years.

SECOND ASSISTANT FIRST TEAM COACH: Marco Ianni — like secondary assists, this seems like a tough role to define, but 32-year-old Ianni is one of Sarri’s “four wizards” (the brains behind Sarri-ball) generally responsible for the tactical side of things.

ASSISTANT FITNESS COACHES: Davide Ranzato & Davide Losi — the second and third of Sarri’s four wizards, they share a name (quality name, obviously) and a role. Their titles make it sound like Bertelli is the head fitness coach, but judging by training ground pictures, there are new routines in place from the last couple years (kettle bells made an appearance yesterday!). Sarri may have brought in several fitness coaches, but the medical and physio staff looks unchanged, with Paco Biosca continuing to head up that department just as he has since 2011.

GOALKEEPER COACH: Massimo Nenci — the replacement for Spinelli, who stayed behind after Conte but then left for PSG soon after. Spelled “Nensi” on Chelsea official, Nenci joined Napoli in 2015. Sarri and Nenci have worked together, a few breaks aside, since the very beginning, from the depths of Serie D and non-league Faellese, rising now all the way to Chelsea. It’s a friendship that goes beyond the professional aspect, as Di Marzio’s report from 2015 puts it. Nenci is not the fourth “wizard”; that’s Luigi Nocentini, “computer wizard” who appears to not have joined Chelsea despite leaving Napoli this summer.

“A SCOUT”: Gianni Picchioni — unhelpfully described as “a scout” on the official website, Picchioni was seen in the dugout during pre-season matches (not exactly an obvious place for a scout), and was previously described as an “observer”. So he’s probably the opposition scout, the AVB to Sarri. (Scott McLachlan retains the role of head scout, as per Chelsea official; with Granovskaia presumably continuing in her role as acting director of football.)

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