Opinion: Can The Maurizio Sarri Project Work At Chelsea?
For such a long time, Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich has wanted a brand of football that could bewitch him, the fans and the rest of the football world alike. The Russian businessman had bought the club from Ken Bates in 2003 and had overseen the most successful era in the club’s history with trophy after trophy calling Stamford Bridge home. For all of his success, one thing was still missing; playing football the eye-catching way and winning with it.
Abramovich had seen many managers in the Chelsea dugout win trophies, but one name that always managed to elude him was Pep Guardiola. The former Barcelona man was the perfect example of a manager that could combine winning with aesthetics, but the man decided not to manage Chelsea as he knew how volatile the job could be.
When Chelsea announced the appointment of Maurizio Sarri as manager following the sack of Antonio Conte, it was supposed to herald the start of something new at the club. The Italian had earned a reputation for the beautiful way his Napoli side played in the Serie A, with many people agreeing that he couldn’t have won the league with the might of Juventus in the Italian league.
He started late as Chelsea manager as talks swirled about the future of Antonio Conte, who was still the manager at the beginning of the campaign. He had little time to implement his favoured style of football, but in the few weeks of the season, his Chelsea side started showing signs of a new dawn. The possession stats started racking up, with summer signing, Jorginho proving to be an astute signing.
Things have started to unravel at Stamford Bridge, with the Blues somewhat in crisis mode, looking bereft of ideas and struggling to implement the demands of their manager. Can SarriBall really become successful in England?
The club and owner may not be patient
Like all good things, Maurizio Sarri will need time to make a mark in West London. The Italian’s methods need time to be implemented as it would need players that are suited to the system. Chelsea fans and the manager are so used to winning that it would need time for SarriBall to start delivering trophies. For a team that has been used to competing for major trophies, there is a need to be very patient and back the manager in the transfer window.
Just like Manchester City who backed Pep Guardiola with funds and players who helped improve the squad and shaped the team in the manager’s Image, Chelsea must be ready to do the same. Chelsea must also review their transfer policy, loan system and the non-involvement of managers in their player acquisitions.
He’s not a serial winner
One thing that may work against Sarri is that he is not a serial winner, used to the experience of guiding a team to winning trophies at different clubs. The managers that have managed Chelsea in the past have all had trophy-winning experience, which they transmitted to the players and helped guide them over the line in the business end of the season.
Chelsea play Tottenham shortly in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinals, while they are still in the running for both the Europa League and FA Cup. With so many top-class managers in the Premier League, it will be hard for Sarri, who has never won a trophy in his career to suddenly make a mark on the division.
Player power must be extinguished
For Sarri to succeed at Chelsea, player power must be extinguished as for so many years, the players have always had a say in who the manager is, especially if they fall out with him. Sarri is starting to take on some players in his squad, accusing some of self-motivation and lack of intensity. Sarri must be backed by the club in all spheres, especially against player mutiny.
Sarri is a man that will be defined by his time in Chelsea when the season ends. It will be interesting to see how the cookie will crumble. We will be waiting.