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Chelsea, Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, David Luiz pay tribute to Maurizio Sarri

Leaving on good terms

Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

We’re certainly used to new managers and managerial changes at Chelsea. In the Abramovich Era, starting with the first season in 2003-04 under Claudio Ranieri, Chelsea have switched managers every 71 games*. Sarri lasted 63. Standard.

What made Sarri’s departure unique among the 13 that have now occurred since 2003 is that he ... left. He didn’t get sacked, he just left. He wanted to leave, or least preferred an option other than staying. And so he just left (with Juventus footing the bill), for what is the biggest job back in Italy and one of the few in world football that’s bigger than the Chelsea job.

We’ve had sackings labeled as “mutual agreements” before, but this might have actually been one in reality, too, with both sides accepting that the best way forward is to go our separate ways. Worlds apart.

Accordingly, Chelsea sent Sarri on his way with a lovely tribute, in both words and moving pictures. Certainly a drastic change from 52-word statement that Conte got last summer (which turned out to be just the start of those separation shenanigans)!

“In talks we had following the Europa League final, Maurizio made it clear how strongly he desired to return to his native country, explaining that his reasons for wanting to return to work in Italy were significant. He also believed it important to be nearer his family, and for the well-being of his elderly parents he felt he needed to live closer to them at this point.

“Maurizio leaves Chelsea with thanks from us all for the work he and his assistants did during the season he spent as our head coach, and for winning the Europa League, guiding us to another cup final and a third-place finish in the Premier League. We would also like to congratulate him on securing the role as big as any in Serie A and to wish him the best of luck for the future.”

-Marina Granovskaia; source: Chelsea FC

Things may not have worked out as we had hoped, for whatever reason, but at least we’re doing right by each other here, at the very end. And that’s certainly nice to see, especially if we want to continue believing that football is more than just business.

With the sacking — whoops, autopilot — departure happening on a Sunday in the middle of the offseason, player reactions have not exactly been pouring in. I’m sure they’ll catch up to the news soon.

Until then, here’s Captain Dave wishing Sarri good luck and thanking him for all his hard work that culminated in the club’s fifth European trophy.

And here’s Toni, who just got married but still managed to squeeze in a tribute. Good man!

UPDATE: David Luiz is awake! Sarri’s No.1 fan added a lovely message as well.

Boss, Maurizio Sarri, you deserve all my respect as a coach and as a person!! I would like to say thank you for everything and wish you all the best luck ever!! You will keep your great story in football!!! And also say thank you for all your staff, they know how I love them!!! Big hug, see u soon!!

Life goals: get a big hug from David Luiz.

*i.e.: not including the single-match tenures of Ray Wilkins (2009) and Steve Holland (2015), but including all interim managers.

Here’s the list and number of games in charge: Ranieri (59), Mourinho Mk.I (185), Grant (54), Scolari (36), Hiddink (22), Ancelotti (109), AVB (40), RDM (42), Benítez (48), Mourinho Mk.II (136), Hiddink (27), Conte (106), Sarri (63)

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