Maurizio Sarri underlined his frustrations with the packed football schedule, his last few years at Lazio and his recent transfer market thoughts.
The 64-year-old Italian coach entered his third year in charge of the Biancocelesti this term and things didn’t start well, with the team looking sluggish and off-mark after their impressive second-place finish last season.
Lazio have started to turn things around and sit in a good position in their Champions League group, so fans are hoping to see a resurgence in the run-up to Christmas. The hope is to close the gap to the top four before the start of the new year.
Speaking in an interview with La Repubblica (via LazioNews24), Sarri first discussed the business of the modern footballing calendar.
I’ve been talking about it for five years, yet they accuse me of just looking for excuses. These days in Spain the world is coming down over Gavi’s injury, they call it the UEFA Virus. I hope someone has the intellectual honesty to recognize that I’ve been saying certain things all my life.
He gave his thoughts on the sustainability of modern football.
The only sustainable football is English football, the most traditional, where on Saturday afternoons there is no match on TV because people crowd the stadiums of the minor categories.
The FA Cup final is the most watched match in the world after the Champions League final, yet for a hundred years it has always had the same rituals and is played at Wembley, not in Arabia. Do you want to say something?
The Lazio coach commented on the importance of emotion in football.
There is an attempt not to make the movement fall into globalization. So, they are all rich, while our rich are the poor of Europe. Football is an emotional sport. if you take away the emotion, for television it is certainly not the best show in the world.
The child who goes to the stadium keeps the emotions alive, but there is no future if they focus on the highlights audience.
Sarri gave his thoughts on how to fix the footballing schedule.
Maximum 50 games. We could at least start with the small things, such as giving up summer tours and bringing the Coppa Italia back to August even for the big teams, making them play on the pitches of the Serie C teams, who would then earn money to survive all year.
But they would certainly tell us that there is a public order problem why Juve cannot go to Campobasso. The Coppa Italia is a clandestine event tailor-made for the television audience of the final rounds. But that’s not football, it’s Bayern losing to a third-tier side.
He spoke about his times at Napoli and now Lazio.
If we refer to the years in Napoli, I cannot and must not necessarily play that type of football, even if people always expect the same way of playing from me. Having playmakers is not like having counter-attackers, I have to adapt, Lazio can never be like Napoli.
Let’s take Immobile: he must attack depth and not play against his best qualities. The other day he asked me: ‘Mister, what should I do to go back to the way I was before?’
I replied to him: ‘Do what you’ve always done, don’t come towards the ball, keep digging into the opposing defence, playing on them’.
He was asked if he’d like to close out his career with Lazio.
I would like it to be like this. I don’t set time limits, so it’s not just up to me.
Sarri was also asked if he’d consider coaching in Saudi Arabia.
Can you smoke in Arabia? Yes? Then we’ll see. However, it is not something programmable today. If I think about the future, I would like to be the coach of Lazio at the Flaminio.
It’s a project that Lotito believes in, even though he obviously wants guarantees, it’s not like everything can be stopped if an amphora turns up while digging.
Everything was owed to Juve, and we just had to win the Champions League, but it was a tainted message. I won the league with a group at the end of the cycle and a club that took me on because they had the desire but not the conviction to change their style.
At Chelsea, I found it difficult to immerse myself in an atypical club, without a sporting director, where no coach could last two years.
But then in the last few months I’ve had fun, and I was wrong in wanting to leave, not so much from Chelsea, which would have also kept me, but from the Premier League, a context of unique beauty. Returning to Italy was a mistake.
He spoke about his transfer market work.
I had some ideas, it could have been the year in which to raise the bar, but mine are technical proposals and that’s it, the economic realization is up to the management.
The Italian coach discussed the Derby della Capitale.
The derby crushes me. From the outside it seems like an exaggeration, then when you experience it it’s deadly.
Everything you breathe becomes derby, there is a warehouse worker in a derby atmosphere, there are cooks in a derby atmosphere. The derby ruins your life, but it’s beautiful.
He named his possible successor in football.
De Zerbi. Yes, we talk sometimes, even if he has never worked with me. After all, I fell in love with football watching Sacchi’s teams, for the sense of order they gave me and which I had never seen before. I met Arrigo much later, but it was he who inspired me.
Finally, Sarri briefly reflected on his career.
I’m very happy because I come from a long way away. Sarri’s Napoli will be remembered for thirty years.