SINGAPORE – His eponymous “Sarri-ball” philosophy was first embraced, then derided by the Chelsea fans in the 2018-19 season, even though Italian Maurizio Sarri ended his maiden and only season in English football with the Europa League trophy.
The 60-year-old had been described as stubborn, as he refused to deviate from his tactics and preferred personnel even when the results were going against the Blues last season.
The new Juventus manager has indicated that he will not change with his off-season move to the Old Lady, even with the pressure of managing a team of stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and the expectation of winning their first Champions League title since 1996. The failure of the latter goal resulted in the departure of Massimiliano Allegri at the end of last season.
Asked before Juve’s training session at Bishan Stadium on Saturday (July 20) how he is adapting to his new club, Sarri said: “Nothing really changes during practice; I’m myself, I have to do my thing. The players have to adapt to my style, but I have to adapt to the players I have on the field.
“Seventy per cent of what happens on the pitch, I would like to see my style. Thirty per cent, I would like to see what (the players) can do.”
The former Napoli manager, who is in town with his team for the International Champions Cup where they meet Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, also spoke about building a new “game identity”, as the Italian giants seek to go further in the Champions League next season. Juve exited last season’s competition in the quarter-finals.
Sarri said: “At the moment we are working hard to create a strong game identity then we will try to win with this game identity.
“In Italy we are aware we are the strongest team, Europe a different story. We’re working to make the team stronger because other teams in Europe are doing the same.”
After winning the Serie A title for the eighth consecutive time last season, the Bianconeri strengthened their side in the off season by signing the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Matthijs de Ligt.
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba has been linked with a move back to Turin, where he played from 2012-2016, but Sarri was coy about commenting on the France international.
Sarri said: “I’m not the technical director, I don’t know. I like him very much but i don’t know the situation and I don’t want to speak about a United player.”
What he does know, is that he wants to deploy his other superstar – Ronaldo – in a variety of positions in attack. He said: “I’ll try to play Ronaldo on the left side but he could play anywhere. He’s won so much, he’s an experienced player, I don’t mind moving him to other parts of attacking positions.”
Players Matthia di Sciglio and Miralem Pjanic expressed optimism in the new manager’s methods and that it will bear fruit for the club.
Full-back di Sciglio said at the press conference: “We have seen in the past he has done well with Napoli and Chelsea, we’ll try to do as well with him at Juventus. I’m very motivated and we’ll try to go as far as possible in any competition as we can.”
Playmaker Pjanic added at an adidas event at Kallang Wave Mall: “Every year, Juventus tries to compete and tries to win the Champions League.
“This year it will be another year that we will try to go to the end of the Champions League, to try and win this competition.
“The most important thing is that we don’t have too many injuries like last year because last year at a crucial period of the season. If everybody is ready when the important things start, I think we have a great chance to reach all of our objectives.”
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