Blue note jazz is the way forward for Chelsea under incoming boss Maurizio Sarri

by Andy Dillon / 13 July 2018, 13:54

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But in the case of Antonio Conte the rash decision to fire off an incendiary SMS to Diego Costa a year ago has ultimately cost him his job.

And it may yet end up carrying the even higher price of his expected £9 million pay off now the latest Chelsea sacking is official.

A terse 61 word statement brought an end to Conte’s turbulent two year reign. It’s come a year early for some but a year too late for many at the most politically volatile club in the Premier League.

New man Maurizio Sarri’s biggest task is to undo the damage in the dressing room that started with Conte’s spectacularly bad way he handled a routine ruck with striker Costa.

Costa can be as combustible as his former manager. He was also known to enjoy the ‘perks’ of his highly paid job in terms of the late nights and pretty unhealthy food.

So when the two came together in a clash over summer fitness levels it was time to light the blue touch paper and stand well back.

That confrontation triggered a downward spiral in terms of Conte’s relations with his players and no manager wins that. His predecessor Jose Mourinho was dismissed with a ‘palpable discord’ existing between coach and players.

Click: The fate of every permanent Chelsea manager to work under Roman Abramovich

Sarri is considered a much more diplomatic character. And to those on the inside at Stamford Bridge, the fact he is a 60-day smoker and a huge jazz fan, already puts him at an advantage in comparison.

What Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wanted when he appointed Conte in 2016 was a change of pace from Mourinho, who wanted to fight everyone in the outside world.

He got that but instead inherited a one-dimensional workaholic who showed respect to everybody else but channeled his aggression to those on his side. The constant attacks on the board over transfer policy were his undoing.

Sarri’s enjoyment of life - he also unwinds by reading crime novels - is yet another stab at trying to get the right fit for the club which has now seen ten managers come and go in the 15 year Abramovich era.

The Italian only became a full time coach at 40 years old. Before that he managed high-end investment portfolios for financial institutions on the foreign exchange markets in London, Zurich and Luxembourg.

Conte was football through and through. Nothing else mattered except football and ultimately winning at football.

It’s a fair bet he hardly saw any of the sights during his two year stay in London because he was so obsessed with perfecting things on the pitch.

That sounds like every chairman’s dream but in reality it produces a tunnel vision where the head coach cannot relate to real life, where he cannot keep things in perspective.

And is it a sense of pragmatism that often provides vital downtime and support in your main body of work.

Sarri, 59, speaks good English and he will need it to try to convince a number of Chelsea’s senior players that their futures do not lie elsewhere.

Eden Hazard, Willian, David Luiz and Thibaut Courtois all fell out with the most hardline boss in the club’s history. Even N’Golo Kante is mulling over a move to Barcelona.

Managing multi-million dollar accounts for the uber rich is no better place to develop interpersonal skills to appease, please and get welathy footballers on your side.

This will be Sarri’s first and most important task, before he then works out how to get round the smoking ban at Stamford Bridge.


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Antonio Conte
13th July


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