Opinion: Sarri a coherent but risky choice


The Maurizio Sarri era officially started earlier this week so it is time to revisit the club’s choice to part ways with Massimiliano Allegri and appoint the former Napoli and Chelsea boss. If the management wanted to benefit from the spark provided by a new approach, then the decision is sound because Sarri is as different as possible from his predecessor, without making an appointment that is too out of the box.

Starting from their personalities, the current manager can often come off as gruff, while Allegri was surely way more personable and wittier. That is neither here or there when it comes to winning on the pitch, but it is a first glaring thing that sets them apart.

The go-to scheme might end up being the same, and the selection between 4-3-3 and 4-3-1-2 will have huge ramifications on the transfer market, both regarding who will join but especially who will leave and some big names will be caught in the middle. What is certain, however, is that Sarri will not continuously alternate tactics the same way Allegri did: versatility can be useful, but it often felt like the squad was devoid of reference points due to the constant shuffling. The ex-banker will make his pick, maybe he will tweak it later if it does not fully work, but it will no longer be a week-to-week proposition. The starting XI is poised to be way more consistent than it used to be. The rotation will be tighter, which could cause some discontent for lack of playing time.

Beyond the numbers, the principles will be starkly diverse as Allegri liked a conservative style that relied heavily on stout defending and on the plays of his top men. The philosophy will be more choral and proactive next season, there will be more quickness of execution and more mechanisms.

Such a seismic shift comes with a decent level of risk, which is inherent when you decide to move on from a coach that was so successful. It would have been very difficult to find somebody that had racked up as many honors as he did, and, although it is not uncommon for the Old Lady to choose coaches that did not possess an impressive resume going in, it still represents an element of doubt. Triumphing in Europa League was a nice touch, but probably the 2017/2018 campaign had more influence in helping his case.

Sarri was welcomed with skepticism by a good number of fans, primarily for the fact that he went overboard with anti-Juve remarks during his time in Naples. However, it is not something concerning as they did not exactly throw a parade when Allegri was named the coach either, quite the opposite.

The biggest obstacle for Sarri will be installing his ideas in their entirety. At Juventus, he will find a more disciplined locker room than in London, but it is certainly not short of big personalities and therefore it might not buy in the same way Napoli did back then. He had to relent on some of his propositions and let few players loose at Chelsea and the product on the pitch suffered as a result. It is a process that could take time and the Madama next year might not have luxury of being able to recover if they fell behind as the competition will be fiercer.

The officials were looking for some more pizzazz and panache with this hiring, but if Sarri does not manage to impose himself, the play will not look much different than under Allegri, but it will come with a lot more question marks on the side.

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