Maurizio Sarri

AP Photo/Antonio Calanni

Sarri meets with Ronaldo about center forward role at Juve

Leave a comment

In theory, Maurizio Sarri won’t have to do much work to convince Cristiano Ronaldo to buy into his tactical plan.

“Cristiano, buddy, wanna lead a third league in scoring?”

We’re guessing he’ll sign up.

[ REPORT: De Ligt chooses Juve ]

Sarri reportedly has flown to meet with his new player, hoping to convince him to play as a center forward and take a run at the Serie A Capocannoniere. Ronaldo has played the role sparingly over the year, but operated on the left side for most of 2018-19.

Ronaldo finished five goals shy of the league lead last season playing his most league games since 2015-16. He’s led La Liga in scoring and the Premier League. From Football-Italia:

“Multiple sources including La Stampa, Corriere della Sera, Gazzetta dello Sport and more all state that Sarri and director of sport Fabio Paratici flew out to the Cote d’Azur on Friday for a face-to-face meeting with Ronaldo on his yacht. … He intends to speak to the players and adapt his tactics to fit their characteristics, starting with the MVP Ronaldo.”

The goal besides a good relationship was to convince Ronaldo to score all the goals, more or less.

Of course it’s a little less straight-forward than that. Sarri wants to win a scudetto, sure, but that’s the second target right now at Juve. We’re guessing if most fans would welcome Sarri saying the goal is the UEFA Champions League, and we know Ronaldo loves that competition.

There’s no guarantee CR7 will be able to reach the heights of 30 goals as a 35-year-old when the season ends, nor that he’ll play enough minutes in Serie A to tempt any sort of records, but most would expect him to rival anyone in the league should he play a central role in the attack.

Sarri introduced at Juve: ‘Crowning achievement of a very long career’

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maurizio Sarri feels like he’s just been named CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

He’s home in Italy, atop his game, and leading the champions into a new season.

“Juventus, the biggest club in Italy at the moment, gave me an opportunity to return to Italy,” he said in his introductory press conference.

“It’s the crowning achievement of a very long career. I have never seen such determination from a club when it came to hiring a coach like me. They showed a great attitude which convinced me.”

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]

Sarri spent one season at Chelsea, and some say his Europa League title and League Cup Final appearance flattered to deceive.

But his arrival at Stamford Bridge was a stop on a long journey through football. He managed 15 years before reaching Serie B with Pescara, getting Empoli promoted to Serie A in 2014, and gave his new club a scare for two seasons at Napoli.

He was asked what he expects from his time at Juve?

“I expect to wake up each morning and study each possible way of winning the matches. It’s not a mechanism: to win again and again is always harder than winning. Juventus have an obligation to always win straight away. There is a need to have clear ideas over two or three players who can make the difference and put them in an environment to express themselves to the maximum. Then the formation will be dictated by that. It’s been a long journey for me made up of gradual steps. I’m happy to be at the most important team in Italy and this is a further step forward after the experience at Chelsea.”

Can he be the man to push over the top in the UEFA Champions League?

How does Sarri’s exit impact Chelsea, Pulisic?

Twitter/Chelsea FC
Leave a comment

USMNT fans will have been thinking about one thing after Maurizio Sarri left as Chelsea’s manager to take charge of Juventus on Sunday.

How does this impact Christian Pulisic?

Pulisic, 20, signed for Chelsea in January for $73 million and was then loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of last season. He is now officially a Blues player and even though Sarri was initially a little bemused about the signing, he had recently spoken positively about Pulisic’s arrival.

But now those words do not matter. Sarri is out.

Chelsea legend and a member of their coaching staff, Carlo Cudicini, has also been speaking about the high hopes Chelsea have for Pulisic as they hope he fill the considerable void after Eden Hazard departed for Real Madrid, but it all hinges on who the new manager is.

If, as expected, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard arrives as their new manager in the next few weeks, this could change things drastically for Pulisic at Chelsea.

On the face of it, Pulisic working under Lampard day in, day out would be wonderful for his development. Having one of the best attacking midfielders in history to learn from would be the perfect fit. Who better to teach Pulisic about timing runs into the box and when to shoot and pass in the final third?

But with Lampard and his assistant coach Jody Morris (former U-18 head coach in Chelsea’s academy) eager to give other youngsters from the academy the chance to shine, Pulisic could be the odd man out in some regards.

With a heavy emphasis to play youngsters next season, whoever the manager is, here’s what a Chelsea ‘young XI’ could look like post-Sarri and maybe under Lampard.


Chelsea’s young starting XI, 2019-20 season

—– Kepa —–

— Ampadu — Timori — Rudiger — 

—- James —- Loftus-Cheek —- Mount —- Emerson —-

—- Pulisic —- Abraham —- Hudson-Odoi —-


The team above would have 10 players 24 years old or younger in the starting lineup, with Rudiger the eldest at 26. The lineup above is drastic and leaves out experienced players like Cesar Apzilicueta, David Luiz and N'Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud and Jorginho, but it shows you what the future could look like at Chelsea. Not bad, right?

Of course, Pulisic’s quality on the pitch will be the determining factor of whether or not he plays regularly. But there’s a sense that if Lampard and Morris are in charge, they could favor the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek (when they are back fit) in attacking midfield positions over Pulisic. There is also the case that neither Willian or Pedro seem likely to move on this summer now that the transfer ban, barring a last-minute reprieve from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), will be confirmed.

Throw in the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount returning from hugely successful loan spells at Aston Villa and Derby County last season, and there’s even more competition for places in the attacking lineup for Pulisic to get past.

Look, he’s been in this situation before at Borussia Dortmund and handled it pretty well. His quality is undoubted and Chelsea will give him plenty of chances to prove his worth over the next 12 months as they have to work with the squad of players they have and cannot add any new faces.

But Sarri’s possession-based style suited Pulisic’s game well. Now, that will change, and Lampard’s more direct, counter-attacking will take over if he takes charge. Pulisic can certainly launch counters and thrive on the break with his pace, trickery and direct running, but some of Chelsea’s other wide attacking midfielders have more out-and-out pace than he does. That could be a problem for him.

Regardless of what happens with Chelsea’s transfer ban this summer, just look at this lineup below and what is their strongest XI, in our opinion, for next season. Plus, the players they can have on the bench is pretty mind boggling.

Not a bad 35-man roster for a club in the middle of a managerial and transfer crisis…


Chelsea’s strongest possible XI, 2019-20 season

—– Kepa —–

—- Azpilicueta — Rudiger — Luiz — Emerson —-

—– Jorginho —– Kante —-

—- Hudson-Odoi —- Barkley —- Pulisic —-

—– Giroud —–

Rest of the squad
Willy Caballero
Reece James
Davide Zappacosta
Ethan Ampadu
Matt Miazga
Jay Dasilva
Fikayo Timori
Kurt Zouma
Andreas Christensen
Marcos Alonso
Trevoh Chalobah
Tiemoue Bakayoko
Danny Drinkwater
Lewis Baker
Marco Van Ginkel
Charly Musonda
Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Kasey Palmer
Kenedy
Willian
Pedro
Tammy Abraham
Michy Batshuayi
Izzy Brown


Juve, Chelsea announce Sarri agreement

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The white smoke coming out of Italy isn’t a new pope, it’s Maurizio Sarri setting up shop in Turin.

Juventus and Chelsea confirmed the long-anticipated news: Sarri is returning to Serie A and will manage The Old Lady’s quest for a UEFA Champions League crown.

[ MORE: Pogba says he could leave Man Utd ]

Chelsea executive Marina Granovskaia says an agreement was reached and that the Blues wanted to allow Sarri the chance to be closer to home. From ChelseaFC.com:

“He also believed it important to be nearer his family, and for the well-being of his elderly parents he felt he needed to live closer to them at this point.”

If it took Sarri some time to understand the personality of Eden Hazard, just wait until he gets a load of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sky Sports says the move will net Chelsea around $6 million, and that Gianfranco Zola will also leave Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard has been widely expected to get a shot at the Chelsea gig, though Derby County is trying to lock him down with a new deal.

Report: Maurizio Sarri never fit in at Chelsea

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.