Where does Maurizio Sarri go from here as a manager?

Maurizio Sarri , Juventus (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Maurizio Sarri , Juventus (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

With the dust having settled, where does Maurizio Sarri go from here?

Since his release from Juventus, unflattering reports have called into question his man management and smoking habits; on the other hand, Maurizio Sarri has won both the Europa League and Serie A in single campaigns with Chelsea and Juventus respectively.

And yet, Sarri is unemployed in this short period between campaigns brought about by COVID-19; where does his future lie? Unlike most managers whose jobs are lost because of a lack of winning, Maurizio Sarri is gone in spite of his winning.

It always seems inevitable when a coach like Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Carlo Ancelotti, Massimiliano Allegri or even Mauricio Pochettino are fired, that they will of course coach soon, likely in a relatively malleable position as well. For Maurizio Sarri, it now becomes a question of not who can use his footballing genius and innovation, but seemingly who can tolerate him and appreciate his style and what it takes to accommodate.

Maurizio Sarri: Not your everyday boss

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Few football managers have a backstory as romantic as that of Maurizio Sarri; it has been told so many times, and yet it does not get tiresome in its retelling. The former banker quit to take over tiny domestic clubs; through tireless persistence, this tactician ascended Italian football for decades before reaching Empoli, Napoli, Chelsea in England, and finally, Juventus In Turin.

Sarri is not Arsène Wenger with dietary advice and a certain French fatherly heir to him; he is not quite Pep Guardiola either, although the two are good friends. Pep’s tireless overthinking and analysis of everything is channeled differently and managed differently than Sarri accomplishes the same tasks. Maurizio Sarri is more like your uncle; he loves you and wants best for you, but don’t make him say it to your face.

He is a tactical genius, whose football has been called by figures like Guardiola the most beautiful in Europe. However, he is not looking to surprise you with anything you weren’t expecting from him; he is looking to play “Sarriball” and if you’re lucky, the score will not be too brutal against you.

It is a free flowing style, but, as with all things, requires great discipline and technique, organization and awareness. With players unwilling or unsuited to the style, teams can play and appear frustrated with the rigidity of Sarriball, of the spacing, passing and movement.

Who can use that?

In short, everyone; but where will this abundance of brilliance land him after two failed stints with major global clubs?

It may very well be that Sarri needs to go somewhere with a lower profile, like Empoli for example. Should Inter sack Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri would be a high profile replacement, albeit one less natural a fit than say Massimiliano Allegri could be.

Dutch Football could use his ideas as well; clubs there might show greater patience with the mercurial skipper as well. I’m sure he’d be welcomed by any number of clubs, including some members of the Big Three.

England could use Sarri, as his style did work even with some unwilling participants; in the physical English game, it was a nice juxtaposition. France too, could use the infusion of personality and talent that Sarri can bring to any outfit he bosses.

But Germany may be the best fit; perhaps if Julian Nagelsmann were to leave RB Leipzig for greener pastures? If Dortmund cannot progress domestically or across Europe, they too might look to the Italian.

And there may be more, easier destinations to name for Sarri across Europe as well; the interesting thing about him however, is that you simply do not hear the rumors in the same way as other managers, despite his intellect and recent success.

While Sarri did not win the Domestic Treble in Italy, that is hardly a reasonable standard for a first year with a club; few clubs will treat a manager as harshly as Chelsea and Juventus treated the same person in successive seasons.

For Maurizio Sarri, time should be taken, like Mauricio Pochettino has done

For Maurizio Sarri therefore, it may be best to take some time, to let the proverbial dust settle before a new commitment is made; just like Mauricio Pochettino has done since his departure from Tottenham. It doesn’t have to be too long but it should give everyone time to realize that Sarri is a very good manager and that, with the proper respect and resources, innovation can be had across a club.

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But he must choose the right spot, with the right hierarchy and players; the higher up one goes managing in football, the less forgiving clubs become even if you don’t have the players to fit your system or personality. Could Inter Milan be that team, with its loaded roster and vast warchest? Quite reasonably, but both Sarri and the club will have to understand what they’re mutually getting themselves into.

For someone as unique as Sarri, that lesson has come in successive seasons and should be a lesson for the rest of his career, wherever it should lead him.