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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Manager Series: Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri was born in Naples, on January 10,1959. He was born in Naples as his father, who was Tuscan, was temporarily working there. Maurizio Sarri was brought up in Castro (Bergamo) and Figline Valdarno (Florence), hence his strong Tuscan accent.

Official SS Lazio photo

In his youth he played amateur football, reaching Serie D, while working as a bank clerk (also with jobs in London, Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg). His football career was limited and cut short by injuries.

His career as a manager started in 1990 at Stia at Tuscan amateur level and continued with Faellese, Cavriglia, Antella, Valdema and Tegoleto.

In 2000 he took over at Sansovino (Monte San Savino -Arezzo). In three years, he took the Arancioble up two divisions from Eccellenza to C2 and won the Coppa Italia Serie D (2003).

In 2003 he joined Sangiovannese (San Giovanni Valdarno) in C2 and won promotion to C1 and then finished 8th.

In 2005 he joined Pescara in Serie B. The Delfini finished 11th.

In 2006 he returned to Tuscany and joined Arezzo in Serie B, taking over from Antonio Conte in October, but was sacked in March. The Amaranto were eventually relegated.

In July 2007 he joined Avellino in Serie B but left in August after one defeat in Coppa Italia.

In December 2007 he took over at Verona in C1 but was replaced in February, after one draw and five defeats.

In September 2008 he joined Perugia in Serie D but was replaced in February, after 5 wins, 8 draws and 5 defeats.

In March 2010 he joined Grosseto in serie B. The "Torelli Maremmani" (The Bulls of Maremma) finished 7th.

In 2010-11 he finally completed a full season, at Alessandria in Serie D. The "Orso Grigio" (The Grey Bear) finished 3rd but were then relegated for sporting violations (fraud).

In July 2011 he joined Sorrento in Serie D but was replaced in December, despite 7 wins, 6 draws and 3 defeats. The Coastal Rossoneri eventually finished 4th but lost in the playoffs.

In 2012 Sarri joined Empoli in Serie B and this was to be the turning point in his career. He stayed three seasons with a 4th place (lost playoff final to Livorno 1-2 on aggregate), 2nd place (promotion to A) and then 15th in Serie A. The Azzurri's season included home wins against Lazio and Napoli plus away draws to Milan, Napoli, Fiorentina and Roma. His players included future Lazio, Elseid Hysaj and Matías Vecino.

Empoli's entertaining style of football earned him a call from Napoli and in 2015 he joined the Partenopei. He stayed three years. In the first Napoli finished 2nd (CL), then 3rd (CL- in the current competition they reached last 16) and finally 2nd again. A good three years, playing excellent football.

In 2018 he went to London and joined Chelsea in the Premier League. The Blues finished 3rd in the league, lost the Charity Shield to Manchester City 0-2 and the League Cup final, again to the Citizens but on penalties after a 0-0 draw. It was in the Europa League that the Pensioners found glory. They eliminated PAOK (Greece), MOL Fehérvár (Hungary) and Bate Borisov (Bielorussia) in the group stage, then Malmö (5-1), Dinamo Kiev (8-0), Slavia Prague (5-3), Eintracht Frankfurt (2-2, then on penalties) and in the final trounced Arsenal 4-1 in Baku. One of his players was future Lazio, Pedro (who scored 4 goals in EL, including final). The English coined the term "Sarri ball" to describe his style of play.

In 2019 Sarri returned to Italy and joined Juventus. In the season interrupted by Covid 19 the Bianconeri won the Scudetto in August. The level of play was not always pretty but with Ronaldo and Dybala up front they won their 36th title. They however lost both the Italian Supercoppa final (Lazio 1-3) and the Coppa Italia final (Napoli on penalties). In Champions League the Zebras were unbeaten in the group stage (W5, D1) but then lost to Olympique Lyonnais on away goals in the last 16.

Sarri then took a year off as Juventus went for Andrea Pirlo as manager.

Sarri reappeared in 2021-22 when he joined Lazio. In his first year the Biancocelesti finished 5th. The highlights were beating Spezia 6-1, Inter 3-1 at home, Fiorentina 3-0 away but especially beating Roma 3-2. In Europa League, Lazio qualified as second in a group with Galatasaray, Lokomotiv Moscow and Olympique Marseille (W2, D3, L1) but then went out to Porto 3-4 in the playoffs to reach the last 16. In Coppa Italia the Biancocelesti crashed out to Milan 0-4 in the quarter finals.

In 2022-23 he stayed at Lazio and the Biancocelesti had an excellent season finishing 2nd behind Napoli. Their best results were beating Inter 3-1, Milan 4-0, Juventus 2-1 at home and Fiorentina 4-0, Atalanta 2-0, Napoli 1-0 away. Lazio also won both derbies after many years, both 1-0. In Europe things went differently and Lazio were knocked out in the group stage of Europa League and then by AZ Alkmaar in the Conference League. In Coppa Italia Lazio went out to Juventus 0-1 away in the quarterfinals. There was the sensation however that they were concentrating mainly on the league, not having much depth in the squad.

This year Sarri has gone into his third season in Rome.

Sarri also known as "Il Comandante" (The Commander/Leader) has his own philosophy of football, "Sarrismo". He plays with 4-3-3 and his game is based on zonal marking with a high defence. The priority is a fast and precise ball control with a myriad of synchronized exchanges to disorientate the opposition. He is a believer in technology to improve his methods and is known to use drones to film his team’s movements. So far in his career his style of play has worked best with Napoli who, despite not winning any trophies, played an excellent and entertaining brand of football.

At Lazio he is well liked. He has got Lazio into Champions League with a 2nd place finish and has won 3 derbies out of 5 (only losing 1). His teams have shown flashes of Sarrismo but still have to find more consistency. It must be said that he has not been helped by the club who rarely buy the players Sarri himself would like.



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