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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Maurizio Sarri: "I experienced three years where my first thought each day was to beat Juventus."

Maurizio Sarri at Baku before 2019 UEFA Europe League Final versus Arsenal.
Maurizio Sarri.
Photo credit: Amir Hosseini
of the Fars News Agency.

Luca Bianchin of La Gazzetta dello Sport summarizes the initial press conference of the new manager of Juventus FC, Maurizio Sarri. I will translate some of the key phrases from the former banker turned manager. He was born in Naples, grew up in Tuscany, but remained a fan of Napoli his entire life. Today, he takes on the Neapolitan side in a high-profile fixture at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

Mister Sarri's ascent in football management has truly been atypical. He never played professionally, spent years coaching in the amateur ranks, made his Serie A debut with Empoli at the age of 55 before higher profile spells with Napoli and Chelsea FC, respectively. His objective at Juventus: Win the UEFA Champions League which has evaded the club since 1996.

Discussion Items:

1. His initial comments.
2. The importance of Juventus FC.
3. His playing and sartorial style.
4. The current landscape of Serie A.
5. His Objectives.
6. His current roster.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo.
8. Massimiliano Allegri's accomplishments.
9. Napoli.

Translated from the Italian by Steve Amoia of World Football Commentaries.

1. His initial comments:

I am very happy to be here. I don't think it's the most revolutionary choice of my career. I gave my utmost at Napoli, but during the last few months there, the most logical part of myself told me that the journey had ended. I preferred to go abroad so as not to pass from Napoli to another Italian club. 

The Premier League was a great experience but I felt the need to return to Italy. I arrive here with skepticism just like everywhere else. At Empoli, I came from Serie C, at Napoli, from Empoli, from Napoli to Chelsea. All of them were skeptical. 

2. The importance of Juventus FC:

Juventus is the most important club in Italy. This is the coronation of a very long career. I have never seen, during my career, a club that was so determined to close a deal.

Certain things that I said, surely I made mistakes, others were held against me... 

The middle finger (that he gave to a few Juve fans while Napoli's manager) was a clear mistake on my part. It was an over-the-top reaction that was significantly explained right away. I had an excessive reaction towards 10 to 15 to 20 idiots. It wasn't a reaction against the fans of Juve. I never had anything against the supporters of Juve.

3. His playing and sartorial style:

I think enjoying yourself on the pitch is not antithetical to winning. One who enjoys himself acquires a collective enthusiasm which becomes the fuel to deliver a result.

We haven't discussed me wearing a tracksuit during games. I would prefer not to wear a jacket and tie on the field of play. But what's important is that at this age, they don't send me out there naked!

4. The current landscape of Serie A:

I'm very pleased with the fermentation that I see in Serie A. It seems to me to be a very stimulating year for managers. I maintain that Giampaolo (Milan's new manager) is one of the best Italian talents. Fonseca (Roma's new Portuguese manager) is very interesting and I hold De Zerbi (Sassuolo) in the highest regard. It seems that a beautiful sparkling environment is being created.

5. His Objectives:

Repeating is far more difficult than winning. There are teams in the Champions League with the same strength as Juventus. The responsibilities are stronger at the Italian level. At the European level, winning is a dream, an objective to pursue with all of your powers but with a massive coefficient of difficulty.

6. His current roster:

You need to have clear ideas how to put into motion the two to three players who can make a difference. We depart from the characteristics of the players. From whom can make a difference. The playing system will be a consequence of that.

You need to start out from your most talented, offensive-minded players. Ronaldo is one. Paulo Dybala is one. Douglas Costa is a potential top player. For me, Federico Bernardeschi has to go the specialist's route: He needs to play with continuity in one role. I'd like to see Miralem Pjanic touch the ball 150 times every game.

7. Cristiano Ronaldo:

I would like to make Ronaldo set a few more records.

8. Massimiliano Allegri's accomplishments:

Allegri leaves behind a heavy legacy. To win everything that he won is surely not easy. He had an extraordinary journey with extraordinary results. I would like to see, in my team, the same capacity to experience 30 minutes of difficulty and then go and pull out the game in 10 minutes. This has happened rarely to me.

9. Napoli:

Despite the racist/territorial chants from Juventus fans against the Neapolitans, I can't change an idea or concept if I merely change clubs. I think now is the time in Italy to stop this. It's time to halt games (if abuse occurs). 

My affirmations at Napoli were not built by default. I did all I could do to win. I made an act of estreme respect going away for a year with my family's situation. 

I have not spoken to President De Laurentiis. Everyone thinks that I have a poor relationship with him. Instead, I will always thank him.

Italian source:

Sarri: "La Juve è il coronamento di una lunga carriera. Napoli? Ho rispettato tutti" (Juventus is a coronation of a long career. Napoli? I respected everyone);  La Gazzetta dello Sport; 20/6/2019; Luca Bianchin.

Steve Amoia
is a freelance writer and translator
based in Washington, D.C. He has been the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and published The Soccer Translator from 2008 to 2015. He has also contributed at AC Cugini Scuola Calcio, Beyond The Pitch, Football Media, Italian Soccer Serie A.com, Keeper Skool, and Soccerlens (Sportslens), respectively.

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