Since the turn of the century, football has evolved. An evolution influenced by men, men unlike others. Geniuses.
Grandmaster of tactics, men like Johann Cruyff, Arrigo Sacchi, Carlo Ancelotti, Josep Guardiola, José Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte and a host of others. These men have perfected football in this age on their own terms.
The focus here is Maurizio Sarri. The Flawed Genius from Naples. The creator of Sarriball (also known as Sarrismo or vertical tiki taka).
A footballing philosophy that places emphasis on attack and high pressing contrary to the Old age Italian way of The Catenaccio. A philosophy that has been tried with Empoli, Napoli and now Chelsea.
Like the famed chess master, Gary Kasparov, Sarri has created a system which revolves around a regista, his queen.
That queen is Jorginho. In moving from Naples to London, he took along his favorite piece and it was bliss in the beginning till it started getting away from them. Sarriball became dull and stagnant.
It was like Louis Van Gaal was in charge instead of Sarri. Pointless passes that led to nothing. What led to this?
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. As revolutionary as Sarriball is, it is not perfect and has not won any trophies!
Zilch with Empoli, Napoli and it looks like it is not winning anything with Chelsea! It has gotten close but never. Yet Sarri persists with it. You cannot fault him for that for you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
Sarri must be flexible and provide variants of Sarriball to keep it efficient and effective!
He should take a leaf out of Pep’s book and create variations of the winning formula to ensure he wins something before he retires. Not so genius after all.
If a chain is said to be as strong as its weakest link, same can be said for Sarriball. Sarriball is as good as Jorginho and whenever he has a bad game, the system fails.
The failings of Sarriball are Jorginho’s and Sarri’s fault. They are both one dimensional. Jorginho is also slow and is not strong enough hence is easily harried off the ball. Poor Jorge!
THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
If Sarrismo is art, then Sarri must be Van Gogh! An artist whose work is not appreciated because he finds himself in a system filled with few like-minded geniuses like himself and more doodlers.
The Premier League is great in its own right due to the competitive nature but when it comes to aesthetics, the Sarrismo Revolution cannot take place where football is more physical and filled with bullies. It started so well but alas! There is trouble!
During the peak of his Napoli days, Sarrismo was the talk of the town. Sarri had the men and those men had the mindset and the desire but at Chelsea, he seems to be lacking.
Ideally, this philosophy requires a goalkeeper who is good with his feet, two defensively solid centre backs, fullbacks with a good balance of attacking and defensive ability.
The fullbacks also need to have peak stamina to allow them bomb up and down the flanks. The midfield needs a regista, a box to box midfielder and an advanced playmaker.
Up front, lethality and speed is required in the front men. At Napoli he had these and moving to Chelsea, meant an upgrade but that has not been the case.
Most of the players are totally unsuited for these roles or they simply lack the quality to succeed in them.
Sarri’s lack of a plan B does not help matters. But if he has been semi successful in Italy with players of Napoli’s quality (no disrespect to the Napoli players), it is expected Chelsea with the relatively high quality players should prove successful but that is not the case.
It is not all doom and gloom for The Blues as Sarriball has proven to be effective and exciting.
It is a bedding in period and Sarri needs time to perfect his art. Sarri must also exhibit some flexibility in his approach. After all, Rome was not built in a day.
CREDIT: NII APONSAH ANKRAH