LIFE at Chelsea could be about to get very interesting, with the FA cup winners expected to announce the appointment of Maurizio Sarri as their new manager.
The defensive, pragmatic stance of outgoing boss Antonio Conte will be ditched.
AFP – Getty Chain-smoking Maurizio Sarri looks set to join Chelsea
In its place will be the breath-taking Sarri-ball of Napoli, a fluid, tika-taka-on-speed style with the emphasis on moving up the pitch in short passes as quickly as possible.
But Chelsea will be employing a very testy character, who left Napoli this week under a cloud, to be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.
Sarri is an old-school chain-smoking, potty-mouthed maverick who has been accused of making racist and homophobic insults towards ex-Man City boss Roberto Mancini.
He is a fan of pulp fiction, particularly the American author Charles Bukowski.
Sky Sports Roberto Mancini accused Sarri of being homophobic and racist
Getty – Contributor But Chelsea think the attack-minded manager is worth the trouble
Sarri is an unrepentant smoker and has been known to leave a stadium mid-game for a quick cigarette.
He is also regarded as the best tactical coach in Italy, a nation that prides itself on the science of football.
SARRI TO SAY GOODBYE Maurizio Sarri leaves Napoli and moves step closer to Chelsea appointment
Part of Sarri’s mystique is the long time he spent in obscurity on the fringes of the game.
Sarri, 59, was born in Bagnoli, a working class area of Naples, where his father Amerigo worked as a crane driver at a steel plant.
EPA The boring football of Antonio Conte is out of the window
AFP or licensors Italian great Arrigo Sacchi has compared Sarri to Pep Guardiola
“Hard work is getting up at six in the morning to go to the factory,” Sarri once said.
His dreams of making it as a footballer died in his early 20s and he took a job in with Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the oldest bank in the world.
The role took him for a spell in London, along with Frankfurt and Luxembourg.
But he spent every moment of his spare time as a football coach, working with amateur sides in Tuscany.
2000-03: Sansovino 2003-05: Sangiovannese 2005-06: Pescara 2006-07: Arezzo 2007: Avellino 2008: Hellas Verona 2008-09: Perugia 2010-11: Alessandria 2011-12: Sorrento 2012-15: Empoli 2015-18: Napoli
Serie B coach of the year: 2014 Serie A coach of the year: 2016, 2017
Getty – Contributor A former bank manager, Sarri worked his way up through non-League and lower tiers of Italian football
Getty Images – Getty Sarri got Empoli promotion and was named Serie B coach of the year in 2014
Showing the fearless spirit that would later be personified by his buccaneering Napoli team, Sarri boldly took the plunge and quit his 9-5 job at the bank to become a full-time coach.
He says of his time in the world of finance: “My experience in the bank is added value. I have learned the value of organisation and decision-making.”
Sarri did the hard lines, gradually working his way through the lower levels in Italy at the likes of Sita, Faellese, Tegoleto, Grosseto and Sorrento.
He became know as Mr 33, after the 33 set-piece routines he made his players practice during his time at sixth-tier club Sansovino.
Getty Images – Getty Sarri shouts during his time with Serie B club Grosseto
Having served his long apprenticeship, Sarri arrived in Serie A in 2014 when he took Empoli up.
His work at the Florence club was based on two principles that would become cornerstones of his success at Napoli, principles that have made him so attractive to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Firstly the free-flowing attacking football that endears Sarri’s teams to fans and purists alike.
And secondly his determination to do it on a budget, making the most of the players at his disposal and nurturing young talent.
ALBERTO LINGRIA Sarri has a reputation for working on a budget and developing players into world class stars
Napoli-fan Sarri took charge of his hometown club in 2015 where his organized, attacking system became dubbed Sarri-ball.
Last season they led Serie A for most of the season, only to lose out to Juventus in the final stretch, with Sarri’s refusal to rotate his side being blamed for the disappointment.
The expansive, passing game prompted legendary boss Arrigo Sacchi to bracket him with Pep Guardiola.
Sacchi said: “Football is music for them, a form of art. They are two geniuses who help the evolution of hits beautiful sport.”
However his brusque manner has got him in trouble on several occasions.
Getty Images – Getty Sarri was named Serie A coach of the year in 2017 and is in the running for the award this year
Getty Images – Getty Sarris Napoli have narrowly lost out to Max Allegris Juventus in the last two seasons – but his points haul of 91 was a Serie A record for a runner-up
In 2016 the then Inter Milan manager Mancini accused Sarri of calling him a ‘poof’ and a ‘faggot’ on the touchline during a Coppa Italia match.
After the game Mancini said: “Sarri is a racist. People like him do not belong in football. He used racist words.
“Sarri shouted ‘poof’ and ‘faggot’ at me. I would be proud to be that if he is what’s considered a man.
“People like him should not be in football. He is 60-years-old. The fourth official heard but didn’t say anything. He should really be ashamed of himself.”
Getty Images – Getty Sarri is a passionate figure on the touchline and is often seen getting into arguments with officials