According to a report by English tabloid The Daily Mail, Maurizio Sarri never truly fit in at Chelsea, with his smoking habits, training sessions, and distaste for media obligations all contributing to his lack of acceptance by both supporters and club officials alike.
The report details a number of smaller issues with his personality and mannerisms that combined to create an air of distaste that surrounded the Italian at Stamford Bridge. The report made sure to note that Sarri was not exactly disliked at the club, and his sense of humor was one of his strongest personality traits, but ultimately the two parties were clearly a world apart.
Most notable is Sarri’s constant smoking habit that was jarring when placed at a venue full of professional athletes hoping to keep their bodies in perfect health and shape. While other Italian managers recently to take charge of the Blues were known smokers, Sarri lit up far more frequent than his countrymates such as Roberto Di Matteo and Gianluca Vialli.
Also a source of frustration for club officials was Sarri’s distaste for media opportunities and promotional events. The reports Sarri’s absence from team visits to public appearances and tourist destinations, as well as his desire not to attend charity events or commercial obligations.
Sarri was apparently superstitious enough that he avoided stepping onto the playing field at all costs, even to the point where it kept him from applauding the fans during road matches. He apparently had to be convinced to walk the team out for his first match in charge at the Community Shield.
Finally, his drab training sessions were another point of contention, also not something that alone would have turned heads but in conjunction with everything else added to the separation. Italian training sessions are often heavy in focus on team shape and tactical theories, something Antonio Conte also brought with him to the Blues, but Conte was a far more mercurial character who endeared himself to fans far more than the less emotionally exuberant Sarri. His training tantrum prior to the Europa League final seemed to encapsulate his behind-the-scenes personality, unable to control his frustrations with the players and booting his hat captured in video that went public before the start of the big match.
In addition, his superstition apparently bled into training sessions to the point where he insisted on playing training matches with the same 16 players each week, leaving fringe players to do their own work on the sidelines again and again, something which made those not in his plans feel completely cast aside.
With constant reports of Sarri’s imminent departure to Juventus, the report lists the Kepa Arrizabalaga episode as the final straw for the Italian, frustrated by the club’s failure to back the manager in fear of another Diego Costa incident that cost the club financially in the open market. While nothing listed here by itself is a serious issue to cause a rift between club and manager, everything combined seems to have pushed the former Napoli boss back to his home country soon after arriving.