The manager musical chairs continues as Chelsea look set to swap Italian managers with serial winner, Antonio Conte, making way for serial beautiful football player, Maurizio Sarri. One hopes 15th time is the charm for Roman Abramovich as Sarri looks to leave his imprint on this recently storied club. Conte leaves after leading Chelsea to a comfortable league title in his first season followed by a disappointing one that brought an FA Cup and a Europa league place. The passionate Italian left with fighting words, showing a man defiant as ever in stating how hamstrung he was by the club’s transfer dealings.
In a league loaded with the top managers in the world, Sarri finds himself up against it. One has to wonder, what change does the man who has never won anything as a manager have in store for a club like Chelsea in 2018?
Abramovich is known to pull the trigger on managers faster than Clint Eastwood in For a Few Dollars more…so what’s the deal now? Conte will quietly know that had his seasons been juxtaposed his case to stay on would be leagues stronger. Short term memory loss is a condition characterized by forgetting what happened less than three years ago and making hasty decisions the minute something doesn’t go exactly to plan. One feels that you can be sacked at Chelsea for passing wind in the Russian oligarch’s presence. Such is his trigger happiness. Still, what will be done is to be done.
A Sarri appointment would impact the club in several ways. The football played by the Napoli team under his care is a tremendous departure from the counter attacking and defensively solid styles employed by the vast majority of recent Chelsea managers. Ironically, this is the Italian way. Sarri is Italian. Oh dear. It will be interesting to see how the team is transformed under his watch as the current squad isn’t exactly built for bel calcio. The Willians, Victor Moses’, Tiémoué Bakayokos, Alvaro Moratas, and N’Golo Kantes of this world aren’t amongst the first 1,000 names you would call as exponents of the art. In Jorginho, Marek Hamšík, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens, he had a core of players to suit his style. This means, therefore, that Chelsea can be expected to outlay a significant amount of capital at his feet to shape this team in his image.
This goes to short-termism again. Will the 59 year old be afforded the time?
It’s also plausible that he takes a few with him to Stamford Bridge. Lorenzo Insigne and Eden Hazard would be dynamite, but both are most comfortable on the left, and it’d be tough to pry the Italian away from Naples as Carlo Ancelotti isn’t exactly chopped liver. Not yet, he isn’t. More likely, but not nailed on, draws are the fast rising Kalidou Koulibaly and Jorginho. Sarri likes experience and he could learn the hard way about some of the older heads at Chelsea. Conte probably won’t be the man to tell. He’ll need to ask the club.
It’s difficult to rationalise Chelsea going for the ‘Italian Mauricio Pochettino‘ after more than a decade of prioritising results over stability and style. It can be likened to the switch Arsenal have made at the other end of the spectrum. In fact, all three consistently linked, Luis Enrique, Thomas Tuchel, and Sarri go against recent convention. The first two are also fairly young. Is it that Conte made them see the light, but doesn’t get to see the Promised Land filled with milk and money himself? It’s a decorated coach in at Arsenal who gets it done by hook or crook versus what many Chelsea fans have clamoured for after being put to sleep by Jose Mourinho and the disgruntled Antonio Conte. Once the move becomes official, as predicted, the work begins on keeping the ones unsure about their future at Chelsea Football Club in London and then finding a balance that can fashion the team from a workhorse to a Rolls Royce.
Conte is seemingly out the door, unapologetic about his digs aimed at the club. Sarri has been sacked by Napoli, freeing him up to do as he desires, with Ancelotti taking over. Three Italian managers are playing musical chairs. Who will be laughing at the end? Can Sarri finally win something in a league of managerial heavyweights? Will Hazard ascend to the levels his fans have supposed he could reach for years now? Will Kante ever stop running? Can the Italian hold it in? Find out next time on…..
Exciting times ahead.