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Why Maurizio Sarri is the right man for Chelsea

ANALYST
Feature
13 Sep 2018, 23:56 IST

Newcastle United v Chelsea FC - Premier League
The players' manager- Maurizio Sarri

Chelsea acquired former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri as their manager this season and he has given them some instant results. They have won the first four games of the Premier League thus far, keeping two clean sheets, with one of them away at Huddersfield.

Sarri encountered a defeat in the first game of the season in the Community Shield match against Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City, but bounced back very quickly. That club star Eden Hazard started only in two of the four games is further proof that Chelsea are no longer a one-man team.

What has been new this season is the fresh life given to striker Pedro, who struggled to get game time under Antonio Conte. Sarri has shown that a little faith and belief in one’s players can go a long way.

He has unleashed Marcos Alonso, who has looked hungry and menacing after his World Cup snub. Alonso is probably the best wing-back in the Premier League now and Chelsea are indeed fortunate to have him.

Sarri has played with a regular back-four this season, doing away with Victor Moses at wing-back and playing Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta as full-backs. He has shown faith in Antonio Rudiger while keeping England star Gary Cahill on the bench. David Luiz’s return from injury has indeed been a boon as Chelsea rely heavily on their number 30 in thwarting the opposition’s attacking build-ups.

The magic of Maurizio Sarri is not limited to only building up play from the back and attacking through the wings in a high possession-based style of football. He has a lot of other tricks up his sleeves too.

Former Chelsea man Nathaniel Chalobah says that when he went to Napoli on loan in 2015, he was amazed to learn about ten different ways to make a throw-in when the ball went out. Chalobah had never practiced a throw-in his entire life and now was told by his generous Napoli teammates that he needs to study and understand them because the midfielders are involved, and these throw-ins noticeably have an impact on the tempo of the game.

Sarri is also known to swear by his unique methods for set-pieces although it hasn’t quite been on display in the Premier League yet. Though he doesn’t look like it, Sarri is regarded to be an astute technician and a brilliant thinker of the game.

He had a fantastic 2017-18 season with Napoli, challenging for the title throughout, but losing it by a mere four points thanks to a late Juventus surge in April. Belgian Dries Mertens thrived under Sarri and became the club’s leading goal-scorer of the year both in the Serie A and all competitions combined. Fans were astonished and astounded by the lovely brand of attacking football played by Napoli; it was a miniscule improvement in the league place of third they achieved in the 2016-17 season. Mertens shone that year too.

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Sarri achieved the positions of second, third and second in the Serie A in the three years he was with Napoli, all mightily impressive and fascinating.

Sarri brought midfield maestro Jorginho along with him to Stamford Bridge when he arrived this summer and, though the latter had a difficult start to the season, he has adjusted quite well and showed the fans why he is rated so highly. Sarri wanted a lieutenant with him when he took the flight to London from Naples and Jorginho has proved to be one.

The question on most Chelsea fans' lips was whether Sarri would be able to get the best out of struggling striker Alvaro Morata this season and it has remained largely untested. Morata has scored a goal this season and would like to get many more if he doesn’t want disappoint the Stamford Bridge faithful. If Morata goes on to have a stellar season, there would be no prizes for guessing who would have been behind the scenes inspiring him.

Victor Moses, Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill have struggled to make the first XI under Sarri but nothing can be said about their future at the club yet, because it is too early in the season. Maybe Sarri wants a certain kind of player around the club who signifies the ‘True Blue’ mentality of Chelsea and believes in his philosophy completely.

Maurizio Sarri is the right man to lead Chelsea in these tumultuous times, with the club being relegated to play the Europa League this season. If temperamental, moody and indecisive club owner Roman Abramovich has settled on this Italian who quit his banker’s job to start coaching in professional football, then Chelsea fans can be sure that there must be something about him.

Chelsea need to come out of the Europa League and having Sarri at the helm will surely do their chances no harm. As he has done that before with Napoli, he probably knows a thing or two about how to take a team from the second tier of Europe to the Champions League. Fans and football enthusiasts can look forward to big things from the former Premier League champions this season.

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