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Maurizio Sarri has jumped before he was pushed – this is a strange new situation for Chelsea

Sarri has been one of the most unpopular Chelsea appointments in recent times, yet he will be the first permanent manager to leave without getting sacked since Glenn Hoddle

Like so many times before, Chelsea will spend this summer looking for a new manager.

Maurizio Sarri looks poised to join Juventus as their replacement for Massimiliano Allegri, with Frank Lampard the bookies favourite to fill the soon-to-be-vacant Stamford Bridge hotseat.

With a transfer ban looming and their star player on the books at Real Madrid, this is a strange new situation for the Blues.

PA:Press Association
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But for Sarri, leaving west London at this moment in time makes perfect sense.

While it was his burning ambition that saw him take the plunge and move to Chelsea last summer, it’s his longing to return to Italy that will see him go back before the start of next season.

“For us Italians, the lure of going home is strong. You feel that something is missing. It was a heavy year. I began to feel the weight of distant friends, my elderly parents who I rarely see,” he told Vanity Fair magazine in an interview last month.

Juventus is rarely the kind of club you choose to turn down, either.

While it won’t sit particularly well with his fans in Napoli, you do feel this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for him.

They even let you smoke on the touchline in Italy.

No more cigarette butts

AP:Associated Press
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No more cigarette butts

Sarri might also feel that he’s simply jumping ship, before he’s pushed. 

The Blues are well renowned for their hire and fire approach, with Sarri likely to become the first permanent manager to leave the club without getting sacked since Glenn Hoddle left to manage England in 1996.

There were even times where it looked inevitable that he’d face the dreaded Chelsea chop himself.

The fans certainly didn’t warm to him, with everything from his team selection through to his tactics heavily criticised by sections of the support. Boos and “F**k SarriBall” often rang out from the stands at home games.

If he didn’t leave now, then what are the chances the club would just axe him in a couple of months time, anyway?

Sarri struggled to sell his style of football to the Chelsea fans

Times Newspapers Ltd
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Sarri struggled to sell his style of football to the Chelsea fans

But while ‘SarriBall’ certainly failed to capture the fan’s imagination – not like it did while he was at Napoli, anyway – the Italian did have a good season with Chelsea. On paper, at least.

While he oversaw two of the worst defeats in the club’s Premier League history, he did get them back into the Champions League by finishing in 3rd place.

He won his first ever trophy – beating Arsenal emphatically in the Europa League final – and he was even a penalty shootout away from overcoming Man City in the Carabao Cup.

Sarri ticked most of the boxes in terms of the club’s start-of-the-season expectations, but his efforts remained mostly underappreciated. 

Taste for glory

EPA
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Taste for glory

Chelsea now find themselves in a bizarre place.

So often, they’ve been the ones in control of their own managerial situation, either by choosing when to release a manager or by attracting the best and brightest across Europe.

But with a catalogue of problems and little chance of challenging for the title next season, the Blues are far from being the attractive destination they once were.


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