September 10, 2019 | News | No Comments
With the former Napoli coach’s contentious move from London to Turin now confirmed, Goal looks at the pros and cons for everyone involved
Last Saturday, a documentary based on Maurizio Sarri received its grand premiere in Bologna.
It should have been a joyous occasion for everyone involved, a celebration of one of the game’s more eccentric characters.
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However, the unveiling of Francesco Inglese’s ‘Maurizio, Il Sarrismo: A marvellous anomaly’ was overshadowed by the news that the revered Tuscan coach was poised to join Juventus.
“We ‘sarristi’ still can’t believe it,” actor Massimiliano Gallo, who worked as a narrator on the film, told the Gazzetta dello Sport last week.
“If it should really happen, we’re not ruling out the possibility of even withdrawing the film!”
Given Sarri’s appointment as Juventus coach is now confirmed, the first showing of ‘Maurizio’ could well be its last.
The Tuscan’s decision to take charge of the Serie A superpower which he had so thrillingly tried to take down during his memorable spell in charge of Napoli has proven a hugely divisive issue in Italy.
Napoli fans such as Gallo view it as an act of betrayal, not only of their love for Sarri, but also everything for which he stands, while some Juve supporters are excited by the prospect of seeing their brutally efficient but painfully uninspiring side finally embracing ‘The Beautiful Game’.
With that in mind, Goal looks at the most high-profile winners and losers from one of the most intriguing transfers of the summer so far…
Arguably the biggest loser in all of this is Jorginho, the player who personifies ‘Sarrismo’.
Remember, the midfield metronome had agreed to join Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City last summer only for Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis to intervene and insist that he instead move to Chelsea so that he could get his desired €8 million (£7m/$9m) pay-off from Chelsea for Sarri’s switch to Stamford Bridge.
Now, Jorginho has been left all alone in London.
So often made the scapegoat by Chelsea fans for his team-mates’ struggles with Sarri’s system, the 27-year-old now faces an anxious to wait to see whether the club’s new manager will view his nuanced brand of playmaking with as much disdain.
Indeed, the incoming coach could well decide to restore N’Golo Kante to his preferred position in front of the defence and send Jorginho packing.
Guardiola will be monitoring the situation with particular interest…
As we saw during the Euro 2016 final, Cristiano Ronaldo has no issues with assuming the role of coach.
Now, it seems, he is just as willing to embrace the role of sporting director, with the Portuguese determined to play his part in Juve’s summer recruitment strategy.
The forward made a very public bid to persuade in-demand Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt to move to the Allianz Stadium at the end of the Nations League final, while it is also believed he is privately trying to persuade former Real Madrid team-mate Marcelo to join him in Italy.
Having seen Juve eliminated at the quarter-final stage of last season’s Champions League, Ronaldo clearly believes that the Old Lady needs more quality.
However, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner also shares the widely held view that the Bianconeri need to be more pro-active, particularly in Europe.
Ronaldo enjoyed an excellent relationship with Allegri but, during several games last season, he was left visibly frustrated by the lack of control Juve exerted over games.
In that sense, he will welcome the arrival of a possession-obsessed coach such as Sarri.
Ronaldo championed the appointment of Jose Mourinho as Allegri’s successor – like his compatriot, CR7 prioritises winning football over beautiful football – but he should enjoy playing for a team that will give him more opportunities than last season to give him exactly what he wants: the ball.
Many Chelsea fans will see themselves as winners in all of this.
After all, they are back in the Champions League, embarrassed London rivals Arsenal in the Europa League final and, most importantly of all, have finally got rid of Sarri.
However, it is impossible to view those ‘supporters’ with anything but the same level of contempt in which they – and several members of the British press – held Sarri.
The Italian surpassed all expectations in his first season at Stamford Bridge by finishing third in the Premier League, reaching the final of the League Cup and winning a major European trophy – all the while overseeing the implementation of a radically different footballing philosophy to that of his predecessor, Antonio Conte.
Yet as soon as the going got tough after an 18-game unbeaten start to the season – which was inevitable during a season of such ambitious transition – a significant chunk of Chelsea fans turned on their manager – and Jorginho, in particular.
‘F*** Sarriball!’ was regularly heard ringing out around the Bridge, as fans grew frustrated with their manager’s perceived stubbornness and alleged reluctance to use academy products.
It was shameful behaviour, a damning indictment of the fans’ ignorance and sense of entitlement.
Say what you will about Manchester City supporters – and their current indignation over the way in which their success is perceived by the press and rival fans – but at least they stood by Guardiola during his difficult first season in the Premier League, as the Catalan was only too happy to remind everyone last week.
Chelsea fans may soon come to regret failing to afford Sarri such patience and understanding.
Make no mistake about it: had Allegri stayed at Juventus, Paulo Dybala’s time in Turin was over.
Nobody was hit harder by Ronaldo’s arrival from Real Madrid last summer than the Argentine attacker.
They clicked instantaneously off the field but never on it. Allegri, thus, asked Dybala to play deeper, “in between the lines”, but the forward unsurprisingly struggled to adapt to the role.
The net result was Dybala following up the most prolific season of his career (26 goals in all competitions) with the worst.
He scored just five times in Serie A and started only 24 games. By the season’s end, he was heading for the exit door at the Allianz Stadium.
Allegri’s departure has changed everything, though.
Indeed, there is now the tantalising prospect of Dybala developing into an even more effective attacker than he was in 2017-18, when one considers the way in which similarly diminutive forwards such as Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne went to a whole other level under Sarri’s tutelage at Napoli.
New Inter boss Antonio Conte is keen to lure Dybala to San Siro, by offering Mauro Icardi – a player the champions have previously pursued – in return.
However, as Goal has revealed, the Old Lady is now reluctant to let go of ‘La Joya’, who should, thus, be granted an unexpected opportunity to re-establish himself as one of Juve’s most valuable players.
“I hear talk of Pep Guardiola,” Andrea Barzagli recently mused, “and it’s nice to dream.”
The reality, though, is that Juventus never had any chance of prising the Catalan coach away from Manchester City this summer.
However, several journalists were adamant that Pep was bound for Turin, and that whipped several fans into a frenzy, particularly on social media.
Right up until this week there were those insisting that Guardiola was on his way, with his presence in Milan sparking hysteria online.
The danger now, of course, is that Sarri’s appointment will feel like an anti-climax to some supporters. Or even worse, a mere stop-gap.
There is widespread appreciation for the job that Sarri did at Napoli. He was viewed as a worthy adversary but that doesn’t mean that everyone viewed him worthy of the Juventus job.
“Sarri has no class, regardless of whether he dresses in a suit or a tracksuit,” former Bianconeri president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli fumed on Radio Kiss Kiss last week.
“I won’t forget the middle finger he flashed at the Juve fans when he was on the team bus. He can stick that finger somewhere else!”
In that context, Sarri could face an even tougher task winning over all of his club’s fans than he did at Chelsea.