A good number of Chelsea fans have expressed hope that the club would resort to playing 100% attacking football regardless of the opposition and they might get their wish. However, they can only get their wish if the club hires a manager who is well versed and knows his onions with regards to the attacking brand of football.
Chelsea have been reportedly linked with a move for Maurizio Sarri and a deal that sees the inventor of the supposed Sarriball will be done soon according to reports. However, the club’s fans must note the failings of previous managers who had attempted to instill attacking football in the Chelsea side in recent times.
The Villas Boas Casualty
Andre Villas-Boas was highly rated, and Chelsea shelled out a fortune with relation to the fee for hiring managers, to get their man who had gone unbeaten with Porto in the Portuguese League and also winning the Europa League. He came to Chelsea, saw his attacking style of play fail, alongside having clashes with the Chelsea old guard, before he was booted out before the close of the season. The quest for attacking football was thrown out the window and he was replaced with a defensive minded Roberto Di Matteo who steadied the ship.
Roberto Di Matteo
Roberto Di Matteo ended the season in style, handing Chelsea the UCL and FA Cup triumph, all while playing defensive football. He was hired on a full-time basis by the club who added additional attacking talents in the likes of Oscar and Eden Hazard. Di Matteo’s Chelsea started playing attacking football with the trio of Hazard, Mata, and Oscar, pulling the strings behind the striker. They were referred to as Mazacar. Chelsea started the season on fire in an attacking sense but showed major frailties in defense. As the season progressed Chelsea started losing points against major and minor opposition whilst playing attacking football. Di Matteo was subsequently dismissed and replaced by Rafa Benitez. The rest, as they say, is history.
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It’s noteworthy that no attack minded manager has flourished at Chelsea in recent times when compared to the managers with an affinity for defensive football. The likes of Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, and Rafa Benitez whose sides are not known to play full-fledged attacking football have all won silverware with the club, while the ones who came with the attacking mindset have been sent packing.
Maurizio Sarri – The acclaimed inventor of Sarriball
However, going by Sarri’s exploits with Napoli, it appears that Chelsea may be about to get their ideal attack-minded manager. Maurizio Sarri joined Napoli in June 2015 and transformed the Partenopei into a major balanced attacking side as they rarely let in goals with his brand of football known as Sarriball. They finished twice as runners-up to Juventus in his three seasons as Napoli boss, the last one coming in the 2017/18 season where they fell short of the Old Ladies by 4 points. His Napoli side also set a record for most consecutive victories on the same season with 8, avoided defeat in the league till December, and waited for another 3 months for the next defeat, garnering 10 straight wins in the process. Sarriball received wide acclaim last season.
Regardless, it remains to be seen if the Italian tactician can transform Chelsea into a major attacking side if he’s hired by the club, as others who have tried, failed woefully despite the record they set in their previous sides. Hopefully, the Chelsea faithful don’t end up rueing the departure of Antonio Conte and the arrival of Sarri by the end of the 2018/19 season. Conte proved himself to be a winner regardless of the brand of football his side played the previous season, a development he attributed to the club’s failure to meet his transfer demands. We wait to see how things pan out for Chelsea, and hopefully Sarriball blossoms at Stamford Bridge if the move for Sarri materializes. Apparently, reports indicate that Conte has reminded the club that he is still the boss.