At first, Maurizio Sarri’s season at Chelsea FC seemed like a match made in heaven. The former Napoli boss took the reins of one of the highest paid coaching positions in the world after Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho were both unceremoniously fired from the same position only a few years apart after providing multiple English Premier League championships.
Sarri went undefeated through twelve straight EPL matches before suffering his first loss to rival Tottenham on November 24. Even after the defeat, Chelsea looked like they remained in extremely capable hands. The club had a very decent December, including a 2-0 win over the previously undefeated Manchester City, although it is important to remember Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero did not play.
All that goodwill and hope seemed to unravel in January when Chelsea were shutout by Arsenal, Bournemouth, and most recently, a healthy Manchester City. Sarri was skewered by the British and international media, as calls for his sacking were becoming louder and louder. Chelsea fans went so far as to chant “F**k Sarriball” and “You don’t know what you’re doing” at Stamford Bridge.
Fast forward to February 21 and we have multiple reports from the Italian media that Roma personnel have met with and discussed Sarri’s apparent future in Italy’s capital. This came as news to both Eusebio Di Francesco and Maurizio Sarri. Two men in similar positions, both in the midst of qualifying for the top four and attempting to advance through the Champions League and Europa League, respectively.
EDF, who was recently placed on the hot seat after a disastrous 1-7 loss against Fiorentina, has seemed to right the ship, beating Porto in the first leg of the Round of 16 in UCL action, and rattling off two domestic wins after coming to a draw against heavily favored AC Milan. Sarri meanwhile has just advanced his Chelsea squad into the Round of 16 in the Europa League after shutting down Malmo for a 3-0 victory. Chelsea drew Dynamo Kiev a match the Blues are heavily favored to win.
After the Malmo match, Sarri was personally addressed regarding the rumors. Not only did Sarri remind reporters that he remains under contract with Chelsea, but the rumored meeting that occurred between a Roma official and himself to gauge interest in the job happened while said Roma official was on a different continent at the time of the supposed meaning. EDF dismissed the rumors as “rubbish”.
From an analytical point of view, the move never made sense in the first place. Both managers are essentially in the same spot, though EDF seems to have the slight upper hand with a recent victory in the UCL. Both bosses are coaching 5th or 6th place teams that are on the cusp of entering the top four. Both teams are looking to build new stadiums, and while Chelsea seemingly have infinitely more money than Roma, it would hurt to have buy-out money owed to Sarri, especially after making those same concessions to Conte and Mourinho.
On the other side, Roma have finally been approved to start construction and will look to save money in the upcoming years, so firing and paying out EDF, while giving Sarri another huge payday make little to no sense. Sometimes we need to read such rumors and dismiss them as quickly as Di Francesco, denouncing them as rubbish, because that’s what they are.