Can Maurizio Sarri rejuvenate Lazio? Of course he can!

TURIN, ITALY - AUGUST 1: coach Maurizio Sarri of Juventus during the Italian Serie A match between Juventus v AS Roma at the Allianz Stadium on August 1, 2020 in Turin Italy (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)
TURIN, ITALY - AUGUST 1: coach Maurizio Sarri of Juventus during the Italian Serie A match between Juventus v AS Roma at the Allianz Stadium on August 1, 2020 in Turin Italy (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images) /
Sarri takes Lazio job
Maurizio Sarri is back in Italy and he will be in charge of Lazio. (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

When Maurizio Sarri was last seen in Serie A, his triumphs and trophies in Turin were not enough to keep his job at Juventus and he was unceremoniously axed following a disappointing Champions League exit.

He did not pop up in Germany, England or anywhere else after his departure from Turin; his successor at Juve, like his successors at both Chelsea and Napoli, did no better with inherited squads than Sarri did with the same rosters.

Sarri is an excellent coach and his track record since Empoli is testament to that. Yet he is also quite mercurial, a former banker who chain-smokes in his office if not on the pitch all the time. Lazio won’t care if he smokes a pack every 90 minutes if he brings them the kind of success other clubs have experienced under his stewardship.

It’s not that SS Lazio does not have great players, just that they have not had a great leader to unify the terrific pieces. The Roman side is hoping “Sarri-ball” and its creator can turn the historical club around. And they are right to hope this even as the legendary Jose Mourinho sits at AS Roma, plotting to do the same thing for their city rivals.

Lazio and Sarri: A match made in heaven, well, in the Italian capital

Sarri does not give an outward impression of genius. His simple, geometric tactics are, in fact, deceptively difficult to pull off consistently. Success requires the right type of player with the right type of mindset and abilities.

While some systems seem to be able to take a player and make it work, “Sarri-ball” does not work so well without “Sarri-players.” A player taught from a younger age to play this way – like Jorginho was – can operate with seemingly little effort in a role that for someone uneducated in these nuances would prove very challenging indeed.

Who can be that anchor at Lazio for Sarri? There is no Jorginho walking through that door, and while Lucas has been an effective deep midfielder in front of the defensive line, does he have the technical acumen for the old Italian boss?

The Serbian Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has played in the center of the park before and has the offensive ability to contribute and lay off proper passes, as can Luis Alberto. Scoring is no problem either. Ahead of them is the Italian, Ciro Immobile, the former Dortmund player and prolific goal scorer who might get more chances farther forward under the offensive-centric new boss.

When given a trusted striker, such as Gonzalo Higuain, that striker put up remarkable numbers; Immobile is very capable, still in the late prime of his career at 31, having just scored 25 goals across all competitions last campaign.

While there are well known players across the squad, there are two additional silver linings to consider. One is that the younger players can develop more vital parts of their game from this unique educator, while the second is that Sarri still has an entire summer transfer window to prepare for the upcoming season.

I do not live within Sarri’s brain, so I’ve no idea who he might fancy as the market is immense, yet I know he will take advantage of what he has to the fullest while accentuating the young talents sprinkled throughout the roster. Whoever he gets in the transfer market will be icing on the cake.

Just as with Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, an experienced manager with a particular style simply needs one or two names who can help teach the other players in a more natural and organic way. Coaches on the field ,as one might consider them, provide useful guidance for the less-experienced. So do not be shocked if a few such names migrate to the Italian capital (to Lazio as well as Roma).

Maurizio Sarri has yet to be fired for incompetence at a larger club. He has been fired for failing to fulfill massive expectations at both Chelsea and Juventus, despite winning trophies. He was fired “because he smokes too much in the office”, and “because he is not personable.” Yet from players who owe their careers to him, his true colors are on display.

He has been described as fanatical, funny, thoughtful, considerate, caring and fatherlike. His brand of teaching seems to work better with younger players, or with younger squads. He can mold men’s minds to operate in the way he sees the game, yet when the players are not willing to play as he wishes, things do become difficult.

Lazio has a historic Italian football lineage, and Maurizio Sarri is capable of reimagining and reforming that lineage as only he can.

He will require a board that supports him, a team that listens and responds as he needs them to, and patience. Like teams Sarri built at Napoli and Empoli that had the talent and technical ability to continue on with different coaches, the abilities and talents of the players he left behind were never in question.

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Thats precisely what SS Lazio wish for as well, and with everything considered, including that which the coach has and needs, they may just get their wish in the end.