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At no point in his career did Sarri play the game he loves professionally. As a youngster, he was a rugged, non-league central defender who was a foreign currency trader by profession.
Much of Sarri’s job saw him visit the central hubs of Europe’s financial market but it was never his true calling, for his real passion lay in football. The 59-year-old coached part-time before Italy’s change of currency to the Euro left his job much less crucial.
With this in mind, Sarri took a gamble and tried his luck at football coaching full time. It is the only job he would do for free, as he has stated in the past.
It would take 14 years for Sarri to finally rise into Serie A after taking his first full-time managerial job at AC Sansovino in 2000.
Sarri managed 11 clubs across four tiers of Italian football before landing his position with Serie A giants Napoli.
The current Chelsea manager started in Serie C with Sansovino before moving to Sangiovannese in 2003 where he spent two seasons. Eight more teams would come and go for Sarri, who did not last more than 50 matches in charge of a club until taking over Empoli in 2012.
Losing the Serie B play-off final in his first season, Sarri went one better in his second season by guiding Empoli into Serie A.
In their first season in the Italian top flight, Empoli managed a modest 15th-place finish which was enough to earn Sarri a call-up into the big leagues, with Napoli taking him on board at the end of that season.
The Italian, who was also born in Naples, was idolised throughout his time with the club and was unfortunate not to deliver them the league title last season. His Napoli side pushed champions Juventus all the way, but they would fall five points short as their rivals claimed their seventh title in succession.
With Antonio Conte’s future tossed into doubt towards the back end of last season, Sarri topped the list of potential replacements before finally being unveiled in the summer.
Sarri’s coaching style was famous across Italian football. He focuses on repetition and drills his ideology into his players. If they succeed, they repeat; if they fail, they repeat; that’s the only way he knows how to get his point across and it worked wonders for him in Italy.
Back home it’s known as “Sarrismo”, at Chelsea they are calling it “Sarri-Ball”.
Despite two defeats in three league games by Wolves and Tottenham, until now his tactics had taken the Premier League by storm, with the Blues going unbeaten in their opening 13 league games.
This weekend Sarri must put his tactics up against the ultimate test when Chelsea host Manchester City.
But these are tactics they have seen before. Sarri has faced Pep Guardiola’s City three times before after all, with City coming out on top on each occasion.
Winning both of their Champions League group stage matches last season and the Community Shield match back in August, Sarri may need to come up with a new approach this weekend.