After striking out with his former Empoli sidekick Giovanni Martusciello and apparently unable to bring his Napoli staff with him, Maurizio Sarri wasted no time in finding himself a new man to be his primary on-field assistant coach.
Per multiple reports, including Gianluca Di Marzio, it’s veteran Italian assistant Luca Gotti, who spent the last seven years and three jobs as Roberto Donadoni’s chief lieutenant at Cagliari, Parma and Bologna (where the two were sacked in May, after two-and-a-half seasons at the club.)
Gotti, who’s 50 years old, coached Italy’s U-17 team from 2006 to 2008. He’s a bit of a journeyman manager, having held a series of manager’s jobs in Italy’s lower divisions before pairing up with Donadoni at Cagliari in 2011.
In the ensuing seven years he’s been coaching the same 4-3-3 that Sarri employs, and in Donadino he worked for a coach who, like Sarri, rejected Italian football’s pragmatism in favor of attacking play. The lone drawback is that he and Sarri have never worked together, so he’s going to have to learn the intricacies of Sarrismo before he can impart them to the players.
Given the new system, a new coaching staff unfamiliar with it, late transfers, late-arriving World Cup players and the uncertainty surrounding Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois, it’s easy to visualize Chelsea getting off to a slow start this season.
As for how this affects another incoming coach, Gianfranco Zola, it doesn’t. According to Di Marzio, Zola’s role won’t be as Sarri’s right-hand on the training ground. His thing will be to act as a facilitator between the head coach and the players, and the coach and upper management. It’s a savvy move by Sarri, who probably noticed that things might have gone better for Conte if he’d had a similar boardroom wheel-greaser after Michael Emenalo decamped for the French Riviera.
So things are starting to come together at Cobham, after an agonizing two months of inaction. Praise be.