1 March 2019

Sarri: Why England Is Different  (Sky Sports)

Maurizio SarriChelsea manager Maurizio Sarri gives Sky Sports a fascinating insight into his transition into English football from Italy.

Much has been said about 'Sarri-ball' and its implementation in the Premier League this season, with Chelsea sitting sixth in the Premier League having just recovered from a dip over winter.

Sarri has received criticism from both fans and the press for a supposed stubbornness regarding his style of play, but here the 60-year-old opens up about his strategy, and why he is still learning about the English game…

"You've been criticised for not changing style against opponents…"

Sarri: "You are talking only about the system, I think, because I like to play always with the same system, but in every match we change almost everything. In the defensive and offensive phase, especially when we have to build up the action with the defenders.

"I think the press consider only the system, not that we change our way of playing in every match. Of course we like to study the opponents, because of course we need to change something in our defensive phase in relation to the movements of our opponents."

"What is the criticism like?"

Sarri: "I am without reaction because first of all in my mind I want to play our football in the right way. The first target is to play in the right way, to have a great level of organisation, to be able to come out to every problem on the pitch, and I don't want to change before my team is able to play my football in the perfect way.

"In Naples in the last season, when [Arkadiusz] Milik returned from injury, sometimes we played a part of the match in 4-2-3-1, but this team was after three seasons, ready to change."

"How long will it take to get to the 'perfect way'?"

Sarri: "It's impossible to answer. Sometimes three months is enough, sometimes you need one season or one season and a half. I think if you change country, change football, it is longer.

"Now I am in the first season in England, and I started to understand some things, not everything at the moment, so now I realise that here it [takes] longer, more difficult. Because the mentality is different.

"For example with an English player it is very easy to have a very good intensity during the training, but it is very difficult to have a session only about tactics. In Italy, it is the opposite; it is very easy to work in tactics, and very difficult to have a very great intensity during the training. It's different, not worse, not better, just different.

"With English players, but also with the other players, we have a lot of players who have been here a long time so the mentality is an English mentality. I have to understand, and I think I also need to have an English mentality. I think I am improving!"

"Is Kepa Arrizabalaga still the first choice?"

Sarri: "Kepa is the first choice, of course, he is very young, he is improving, we know very well that he can become one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, but in this moment we know that Willy [Caballero] is doing very well.

Sarri: Kepa still my No 1

"He is very important in our group and dressing room, so we need to consider him."

"Has this brought the team closer?"

Sarri: "After a very difficult situation, a group is not the same. So there is the opportunity to be better, and you have to take it."

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