By 90Min
February 24, 2019

The wheels on the Maurizio Sarri Express have certainly come off the rails. What seemed to be a dream hiring for Chelsea has turned into a nightmare sooner than many expected, and it has been nothing short of atrocious.

The man who is credited with creating the tactic known as Sarri-ball has found himself forced to answer questions about his flexibility, his rotation and his overall management, and he seems utterly incapable of passing the test.

There is, perhaps, an overwhelming sense of irony in all this, as Sarri's top-flight career only exists because of his willingness to change in the past. Grab a cup of tea, it's time for a story.

Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

After 20 years of anonymity in management, Sarri rose to fame with Empoli. Employing a 4-3-1-2 formation which revolved around deep lying playmaker Mirko Valdifiori, Sarri carried the side to the Serie A and succeeded in keeping the minnows in the top tier.


His three years of hard work were rewarded with the job at Napoli. As Sarri moved to Naples, so did Valdifiori and the 4-3-1-2 formation. He forced his new squad to conform to his preferred style of play and revolve their game around the tempo-dictating Valdifiori, regardless of whether the players felt they could adapt. Sound familiar? Spoiler alert - they did not.

Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages

The first three games of the 2015/16 Serie A season saw Napoli pick up just two points, including a draw with Sarri's former side Empoli. They conceded two goals in each game, and they struggled offensively. Jose Callejon was wasted as a second striker, whilst Lorenzo Insigne was incapable of starring as a central attacking midfielder. 

Sarri's answer to this crisis was to meet with his players. They spoke openly about the side's problems with the formation and style, and all parties agreed that a move to the 4-3-3 would be beneficial. Valdifiori, who many felt lacked the quality to succeed at the highest level, was dropped for Jorginho, and Callejon and Insigne returned to the wings.

Results were immediate, as Napoli picked up a 5-0 win over Lazio. The rest, as they say, is history. It took just three matches for Sarri to see that his ideas were failing, and he quickly changed his ways and created a fabulous Napoli team.

Paolo Bruno/GettyImages

Sarri became so enamoured with what is undoubtedly a stunning style of play, that everything else was deemed unsatisfactory. This mindset bears a striking similarity to Chelsea legend Jose Mourinho.


During the early years of his career, Mourinho enjoyed an unparalleled level of success. He knew he was great, and rarely hesitates to remind you of his previous glory days. Times changed, but Mourinho refused to, and he now finds himself losing his reputation at a remarkable rate.

Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

Now, back to Sarri. When he first questioned the mentality of his squad, most fans were behind him. Mourinho and Antonio Conte had done the same, and fans wanted to see Sarri bring about change at the club. However, he refused. 


Sticking with his same style and his same 14 players, Sarri's frustrations continued, as did his public criticisms of his squad. 

Why would he not change something, even the slightest detail? You wouldn't keep going back to the same restaurant if the food was consistently atrocious, but it seems as though Sarri just might do that.

The answer seems simple. Change something. Change anything (apart from Davide Zappacosta for Cesar Azpilicueta when you're 2-0 down). He's done it before, why won't he do it again? He risks turning into a trophy-less version of Mourinho - a man stuck in his old ways who watches the world pass him by. The clock is ticking. It's over to you, Mr Sarri. 

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)