Within context, Maurizio Sarri has had as good, if not better, a debut Premier League season than both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
The Italian may smoke about 80 cigarettes a day, but so would you if you had to listen to some of the rubbish spouted by fans of the club he manages, and probably in more broken English than the man himself possesses.
Graeme Souness was sat on a panel last night ahead of the Europa League final, saying there’s no new way of playing football, which might go a long way into explaining why he’s never considered for any role in the game that requires critical thought.
‘Sarriball’ is a very particular brand of 4-3-3 that takes serious time to get used to, and also requires particular attributes that his current squad just don’t have.
This is very much a project, much like Guardiola and Klopp’s, but he doesn’t possess the charm of those two, so struggles to keep everyone onside with his tone. It’s nonsense.
In his first season at the club, he got to a League Cup final and only lost out to the champions of England.
He overcame a gruelling schedule on Thursday nights to land in a major final, won it in convincing fashion and only finished behind two of the best sides in Premier League history.
Sarri’s blueprint for Chelsea will be similar to Guardiola’s with City and Klopp’s with Liverpool. And in their first years, they achieved the following:
Klopp came in for Rodgers in early October and finished eighth. He was the runner-up in the League Cup – same as Chelsea and lost the Europa League final to Sevilla. He conceded 50 goals in the Premier League, more than West Brom did that year.
Guardiola? He finished third, but lost six times, got embarrassed in the Champions League and lost in the fourth round of the League Cup to Man United.
When you consider the fact that Klopp and Guardiola had systems in place at board level for them to communicate their wishes and have transfers completed seamlessly, as well as a dressing room that was willing to actually listen to them, it’s a far easier gig.
Sarri has come into a club that make things difficult. They don’t believe in blueprints, they believe in results.
Well, if that’s the case, they’ll never reach the heights of City and Liverpool, but Sarri has done all he can in the short term.
Chelsea now have another major European success under their belts despite an injury crisis, they finished ahead of Spurs, who are being hailed from the rooftops, and genuinely seem to have a plan going forward.
Hazard will be a colossal loss, but perhaps that also removes a layer of player power.
With Pulisic on his way to south London, Chelsea are not only on their way to creating new opportunities to win trophies, but they’re at a crucial juncture where they can reset their culture and move forward progressively.
Nobody deserves a chance to oversee that more than the man who overcame countless obstacles and still won silverware. In truth, he’s not being spoken about more highly because he doesn’t offer media soundbites like Klopp and Pep.
But on the pitch, his debut season was a bigger success than either of the two best managers in the country.