By now Antonio Conte must be sick of the sight of Maurizio Sarri; after all, this isn’t the first time the Italian has had to make way for his fellow countryman.
But who exactly is Sarri?
Before taking over the reigns from Conte for the first time – at Italian side Arezzo – Sarri had already been coaching for more than 15 years. After Arezzo were implicated in the 2006 match-fixing scandal, they were tasked with the impossible job of remaining in the second division with a six-point penalty.
Conte was famously fired in 2006, with Arezzo hopes hanging on Sarri. But it wasn’t long before club president Piero Mancini got cold feet and reintroduced Conte in March. Unfortunately, Conte couldn’t keep Arezzo up and the club has never recovered from relegation.
In his playing days, Sarri was a rugged, non-league centre-back. Unfortunately, he was unable to make it as a player and worked as a foreign currency trader at the Banca Toscana. The role never held Sarri’s attention, so he decided to start coaching part-time.
If you’ve ever driven through any Tuscan town, there is a good chance you’ve passed a team that was coached by him at one time or another. BY 2001, as Italy prepared to adopt to the Euro, Sarri made the leap of faith and decided to coach full-time, succeeding in working his way up the Italian leagues, finally landing in Serie A at the age of 55.
The fact Sarri’s talent went unacknowledged for so long among the top Italian teams has become a source of embarrassment for many. There is no greater praise than the fact that Pep Guardiola is a huge fan of the Italian. Both play with the same philosophy of high-pressing, winning the ball back, short passes and a dynamic front line.
So, can we expect another team to be playing the fast-paced and incredibly entertaining football like we have been seeing from the likes of Man City, Spurs and Liverpool last season?