It took over five months for Chelsea to go from the idea of Maurizio Sarri to the reality of Maurizio Sarri. Five long, agonising months.
Nothing about this hire has come easily so far. So there’s no reason to change horses in midstream. Transfers will be rushed. Pre-season with Sarri will start in Australia in ten days and our best players, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kanté, won’t be there as they recover from the World Cup.
Also, he’ll be installing a completely new system which will take players extensive time to learn and make instinctive, and which process usually requires coaches who know it to the core. (Ed.note: When Antonio Conte arrived two years ago, he brought a whole clown car of support staff along with him for precisely that reason.)
So, as custom, Sarri attempted to bring his staff to his new venture. But is it any surprise that he is also running into trouble as he tries to assemble his coaching staff? We know about Gianfranco Zola, although his role has yet to be defined and he hasn’t worked with Sarri before.
But what about the rest? Around a month ago it was reported that Sarri would bring four of his Napoli staff with him to London: Marco Ianni, Davide Losi, Massimo Nenci and Davide Ranzato.
‘Sarri has instructed members of his staff to learn English. He’s off to Chelsea.’ [La Gazzetta dello Sport.] pic.twitter.com/s2Y4qYmI30— Uber Chelsea FC (@UberCheIseaFC) May 3, 2018
But that is contradicted by the most recent report in Gazzetta dello Sport (via Inside Futbol) which claims the Napoli staff are all staying put. According to a May report from less than trustworthy Tuttosport (via Football Italia), when Sarri signed a new four-year deal this summer, the coaches only got shorter contracts. Now, they’re peeved at him.
Ianni (tactics), Losi (fitness), and Ranzato (fitness) were three of the four “wizards” credited with being the brains behind Sarri’s Napoli operation. The fourth, Luigi Nocentini might actually be coming along, though his cryptic Instagram post just says he’s leaving Napoli.
It should be noted that other reports, including claims from the voice of Napoli, the legendary Raffaele Auriemma, say that while several are staying behind, all four of the “wizards” are coming along, as well as goalkeeping coach Massimo Nenci — even though the current Chelsea goalkeeping staff, including Spinelli and Hilario and even Lollichon are set to stay on as of right now. Opposition scout Gianni Picchioni would round out Sarri’s initial coaching staff.
Still, even if that last rumor is true, it’s not all smooth sailing for Sarri. It had been widely reported that he would bring aboard his right-hand man from Empoli, Giovanni Martusciello. When Sarri left them for Napoli in 2015, he recommended Martusciello as his replacement. It took another season as an assistant, under Marco Giampaolo, before Empoli tagged him the big job. A year and a relegation later, they axed him.
Now Martusciello is on Inter Milan’s backroom staff in charge of long-term strategy and youth development for Luciano Spalletti.
Apparently it’s such a sweet gig that he turned down Sarri’s offer to be his top coaching assistant at Chelsea, as per a report from Sky Sport Italia (via Calciomercato).
So here we are, ten days away from a friendly, under a month away from the Premier League kickoff and with the manager we just hired scrambling to put together a staff of coaches who are most familiar with his unique system.
It goes without saying that this isn’t the ideal way to go into battle in the toughest league in the world. Chelsea have a relatively rocky early-season schedule, with encounters against Arsenal at home and Newcastle away right after opening weekendaway at Huddersfield Town. With the added hindrance of not having the best coaches to help implement his system, the first months under Sarri could be rather bumpy.
Fasten your seatbelts!