Football News

Maurizio Sarri reveals how he won over a “conflicted” Chelsea dressing room

By Chris Smith

Published: 10:52, 20 April 2020 | Updated: 14:30, 1 June 2020

Maurizio Sarri has revealed he had a “conflicted relationship” with the Chelsea squad during his first six months at the club. 

The Italian tactician left Napoli to take the reins at Stamford Bridge last season and during his sole campaign in charge led Chelsea to Europa League glory, defeating Arsenal 4-1 in the final.

Sarri’s mixed spell at Chelsea: Five things to know…

  • Sarri joined Chelsea from Napoli in July 2018.
  • The Italian started well but Chelsea’s form dipped over the winter period.
  • However, he still guided them to third in the Premier League table and won 61.9% of his games in charge overall.
  • The Blues also reached the Carabao Cup final and won the Europa League.
  • Sarri admits he had a “conflicted relationship” with the Chelsea squad during his first six months there.

However, he was never quite taken to the heart of the Chelsea fanbase — who accused him of being stubborn and predictable with his tactics — and often endured something of a strained relationship with his players, famously clashing with Kepa Arrizabalaga when trying to substitute him during the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.

And Sarri — who has since departed for Serie A giants Juventus — has now admitted the first half of his tenure at Chelsea was tough, although his players did learn to appreciate his character just in time to deliver European silverware.

“I had a conflicted relationship with the Chelsea dressing room but, when I told them I’d be leaving, many of them cried,” he told Juve’s official YouTube channel.

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“I’m not so much a person who pats others on the back. I talk a lot about what they do wrong and less about the good things they do.

“I think that has a big impact, but then they learn to appreciate you for who you are. The longest relationships are with the lads I played least, so I think they recognise something once they absorb your character.”

Sarri: I don’t understand how Italians live in England

Sarri also conceded that he does miss the intensity and atmosphere of Premier League football, but admitted he found the experience of living in England rather underwhelming.

“I would never live there [again], I don’t understand how the Italians who are there do it,” he added.

“As for the football, it’s a different story. I miss the Premier League. It has an extraordinary technical level and an incredible atmosphere.”