Less than twelve months after arriving, Maurizio Sarri is heading back home to Italy. For once, it’s not a sacking, at least not an explicit one.
For him, it’s an opportunity to manage the most famous club in his homeland, surely a pinnacle of achievement for a one-time banker and amateur-level player who worked his way up, step by step, from the muck and mire of provincial football over the last three decades.
For Chelsea, it’s an opportunity to reset in the face of era-defining changes at the club, a growing discontent in the stands, and a drastically changing narrative around the head coach himself.
Arrivaderci Maurizio Sarri.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) June 13, 2019
Credit for what he achieved. But despite all the effort, Chelsea's worst two defeats in PL history, plus a season of unwatchable football, and no effort to engage fans, ensured he was never going to be the right man.
What started as a “fun” fling — Sarri’s operative word in his introductory press conference — has turned into a doomed marriage. That turn of phrase has popped up repeatedly in recent media reports, and appears to be the final narrative. We were simply not right for each other.
These things happen, I suppose.
Wrote this ahead of the Europa League final on why Sarri and Chelsea were football's odd couple. He did a very decent job in many respects but just never felt like the right fit #cfchttps://t.co/IAXHCBloGX— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) June 14, 2019
The Mail’s Matt Barlow condenses that changing narrative into a special “stick the boot in” report, as is tradition for all departing coaches. Some of it is hilariously Conte-esque in its accusations, from the “boring” and “repetitive” training sessions (follow @SebC__ for more content on “circuits” and patterns than you can handle), through the growing discontent among some players (despite public declarations to the contrary), to the ostracization of certain elements (is that actually a word, Gary Cahill?). Others are decidedly unique to Sarri himself, from his numerous superstitions and outsized smoking habit, to his shunning of any sort of public engagement, be that with fans, media, or club functions.
A doomed marriage: Chelsea players bored by training and Maurizio Sarri refused lie-ins, he alienated fringe players, his smoking jarred with club, fans never warmed to dull football and he hated media duties | @Matt_Barlow_DM https://t.co/sLF5nyzQGM— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) June 14, 2019
We of course knew going in that Sarri was a bit of a ... well, for lack of a better term ... weirdo, someone who lived and breathed football as if he were a workaholic hermit living in the dungeons of Cobham (which may or may not have actually happened). And when we were winning, things were good. Winning makes everything better. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. Not winning makes everything worse, be that for Sarri or Conte or Mourinho or Lampard (SPOILERS) or whoever.
The Mail’s hit-piece (possibly briefed by the club given Barlow’s name in the byline) doesn’t really contain any massive revelations, certainly if you’ve been paying attention in the last few months.
But here’s the part that I think illustrates best how the narrative has shifted. It concerns the scheduling of Sarri’s training sessions, which were generally held in the afternoon.
At the start of the season, they were the greatest thing ever. (Along with Sarri relaxing the dietary restrictions of the Conte regime. Brown sauce back on the menu, boys!)
The new Chelsea manager [has] introduced late-starting training sessions to allow his players to spend some quality time with their families during mornings.
Now, not so much.
He preferred to train in the afternoons, which disrupted players’ lifestyle patterns, and those with children suddenly found they had much less family time.
Who’d ever want to be a football manager?