Maurizio Sarri was presented as Juventus coach for the first time today and answered questions on Cristiano Ronaldo, ‘Sarrismo’ and what the Bianconeri can expect next season.
The former Napoli and Chelsea coach was asked a series of questions by the gathered Italian press – what follows is a full breakdown of the press conference as translated by Football Italia.
Director Fabio Paratici:
“The negotiations with Chelsea did not last over a month. We had clear ideas from the start, but you have to show respect for a Coach under contract and two big clubs.
“I thank Chelsea for their disposal, as Marina Granovskaia confirmed herself one of the best directors out there.”
“I think we have a long path ahead of us. I was talking to the President about structures and organisation. Going around English stadiums, you realise how inadequate our arenas are.
“There needs to be a cultural shift, as you turn behind you on the bench and are surrounded by children.
“I think in terms of club organisation and tactically on the field, we still have the upper hand compared to England.
“I am excited by Serie A this season, because there is the return of Antonio Conte, Marco Giampaolo at Milan, the arrival of an exciting talent like Paulo Fonseca at Roma and at Sassuolo a man I admire a great deal, Roberto De Zerbi. I see a sparkling situation.”
“When Juventus contacted me, the sensation was strong. I’ve never seen a club so determined to get a Coach in my 30 years here and that is what convinced me.
“I’ve never seen so many directors all so very determined to get a single Coach. They were determined, convinced and united in their choice.”
“Juventus gave me that opportunity and it’s the crowning moment of a career that for 80 per cent of it was extremely tough.
“I feel that I have respected everyone and I gave my all.
“You need clear ideas on your journey. I supported Napoli because I was born in Naples and I got the idea we could be competitive at a national level, so I gave my all.
“In the last few months at Napoli, I had doubts between my affection for the club and fans, and my professional feeling the journey there had concluded.
“During my doubts, Carlo Ancelotti was introduced and that was probably my fault, as it was my doubt.
“I received offers, but preferred to go abroad, as I did not want to move directly to another Italian club.
“The Premier League was a great experience, but in the latter half, I felt professional and personal needs to return to Italy.”
Sarri on Champions League:
“I expect to get up in the morning and study how to win games. If a club tries to drill the idea that victory is owed to them, then there’s a mistake. You have to go out to win.
“As for the Champions League, Juventus will go there to win, but also aware there are eight or nine other teams who are in the same situation.
“I feel there is more responsibility to win in Italy. In Europe, there is the dream, the passion to win something that has an extraordinary difficult coefficient.”
Sarri on systems:
“You can’t start with a system and send players away or bring them in. We have to identify the two or three players who can make the difference.
“The third step is to talk to the players, listen to them and then see what system we can use.
“In recent years, I’ve had 4-3-3, but the 4-3-3 at Chelsea was very different to the one at Napoli. We had to accompany Eden Hazard’s characteristics, as he could change the game, but also his presence caused issues in defending that we had to work on.
“I played 4-3-1-2 for a lifetime before the 4-3-3, so we’ll see.”
Sarri on Ronaldo:
“I’ve trained great players over the years, but with Ronaldo I move on to the next level, a player who is at the top of the world.
“This is a lad with every record in world football and I’d like to help him set another, knowing I contributed to it.”
Sarri on making it to Juventus:
“If I had over the years all the emotions that you seem to think I had, then I’d have had a heart attack ages ago.
“I am not going from the amateur leagues straight to Juventus, I went through Serie C, B, A, Premier League and Juve.
“I come from Chelsea, another big club, clearly with less history than Juventus, because their level only raised over the last 10-15 years.
“These are all steps forward in my career, but very, very gradual ones. So yes, it is emotional to be here, but it’s not as if I was just dropped into the Juventus job.”
Sarri on fighting the ‘power’ of Juve:
“I think that I experienced three years in which my first thought in the morning was how to beat Juventus, because we were the most credible alternative to them, so my moral duty was to find every way Napoli could defeat Juventus.
“I gave 110 per cent, I wasn’t able to do it. I’d do it all again, but that was a sporting rivalry and my professionalism will now bring me to give my all for this club.
“Even if I did it with ways that were perhaps wrong, my efforts were intellectually appreciable. If I have an opponent that I must give everything to defeat and fail, I can even ‘hate’ them, but I can also appreciate them.”
Napoli call him traitors:
“I have some messages sent personally by those players with a very different tone and view of the profession. These would change the view here… At times, players say things to fit in with the environment around them.
“I had three years at Napoli, I made a choice out of respect to them to go abroad. With the need to come to Italy, I received an offer from Juventus and that’s it.
“In my life, I have respected everyone and given 110 per cent to every jersey I worked with. I’ll do the same with these colours, I cannot do more than 110 per cent.
“My choices were very logical, there’s no need to write a novel around it.”
Paratici on Sarri:
“We made a choice, thinking the propulsion and alchemy created between club, Coach, players and fans could start to weaken a little. Our choice to change Allegri was not down to results or style of football.”
“Clubs are at the end of the day made up of people. I liked the unity I saw in the first approach from Juventus, as that is important for me. At the end of the day, you work for a club and what allows you to give another one per cent is the emotional bond with the people.
“I needed only a couple of meetings with them to realise how determined, strong and with a solid mentality they were. I like that.”
Sarri on CR7:
“I trained a player with the all-time Serie A record for goals in a single season (Gonzalo Higuain at Napoli). I’d like to make that two. It’d be an enormous satisfaction.”
Sarri on scepticism:
“I arrive surrounded by sceptics, but then I always am. I had the same at Empoli, Napoli and Chelsea.
“I arrive at Juventus from Chelsea and the step might spark less scepticism, but I do come from a history and so I expect some rancor.
“In football, I know only one way of removing scepticism from the minds of people: win and do so convincingly. So all I can do is put on a show.”
Sarri on strikers:
“I think when a player has the qualities of Dybala or Cristiano, he can play in any role. What changes is the interpretation of the role and the squad must adapt to those characteristics, as centre-forward is a key role.”
Sarri on style:
“I think the objective of enjoying yourself on the field is not antithetical to winning. If a team entertains the crowd and enjoys its football, that can be further fuel towards victory.
“It’s not as if a team that enjoys itself is frivolous. I remember after the first 2-3 Empoli games in Serie A, I was asked if we thought we could secure safety playing this style of football rather than defend and counter? We saved ourselves with six rounds to spare.
“There have been Coaches who won with completely different and contrasting philosophies of football. There is no one way to win. Therefore a Coach should stay true to himself and his vision, taking into account the possibility of failure.”
Sarri on ‘marching to the palace take power’:
“I had the absolute conviction of going to take the Scudetto. It was a professional aim, but at that time I was representing one of the most passionate fanbases who hadn’t won the Scudetto in 30 years.
“That year, I felt like we didn’t have the ability to go for several different targets, so we decided to go with ferocity towards one single objective. We wanted to take the Scudetto. We came close too and we really believed. It didn’t end well, but the journey was wonderful.”
Sarri on suit and tie:
“I’ll talk to the club. Obviously, when representing the club, I will wear their uniform. The important thing at my age is that they don’t send me out there naked…”
Sarri on criticising Juve:
“I did everything I could do. It was my moral duty, as I was representing people who hadn’t won the title for 30 years.
“I felt the need to pull 110 per cent out of everyone, players and fans. I was born in Naples and supported Napoli, so I had everything required to fight with sword in hand for those colours.
“After that, stories come to an end. I can take some of the blame, not all of it.
“I made a gesture of extreme respect towards Napoli by going abroad, even with a delicate family situation, and the club that convinced me the most with their proposal just happened to be Juventus.
“It’s a normal process, if you think about it logically. If you want to create this soap opera around the declarations, middle finger, etc, then you can write whatever you want.”
Sarri on training methods and how he changed:
“What changes are the characteristics of the players. Napoli had team players, who were totally at the disposal of the team and moved the ball at a decisively quicker pace.
“Chelsea are made up of probably technically superior players, but with different individual characteristics.
“They have wingers who want the ball at their feet and like to go one-on-one. It leads to a less fluid style of football, because Napoli had 11 who could play one-touch football, Chelsea had seven or eight who could do that and the others were individuals who could make the difference going by themselves.
“We were fairly unbeatable in the last two-three months. You’d be insane to think you could change the characteristics of the players at your disposal. I’d be in the amateur leagues at that point.
“You are dealing with players at this level who are already champions. The philosophy of football remains largely the same, but you must have the mental elasticity to adapt to the players and figure out how to win games.”
What does Sarri expect against Napoli?
“With regards to the anti-Neapolitan and racist chants, it’s time we just stop this in Italy. It’s time to just say enough and stop games. Napoli are perhaps most hit by a certain attitude from opposition supporters. Enough. Enough, we can’t continue to be 30-40 years behind the rest of Europe.
“As for playing against Napoli, when I leave the San Paolo to applause, I know it’s a show of love. If I leave being jeered, it’ll be a show of love. My feelings for the people of Napoli will not change.”
Sarri flying to Ronaldo:
“We’ll talk about it this afternoon. I asked to talk to 2-3 players so we could share some ideas.
“Around 30 years ago, I believed I could impose my views on players, but now I realise it’s important to ask players how they view themselves and weave it all together.
“I don’t know if I’ll visit Ronaldo in a few days or more, we haven’t organised anything.”
Paratici on why Juve chose Sarri:
“Style of football was not central to the reasoning for changing. We chose Maurizio because we felt he was the best Coach for Juventus right now, just as Allegri was five years ago and Conte three years before that.
“These are all different Coaches with different characteristics. Sarri showed he can win in the Premier League and internationally, so he’s the right man for the job.”
Sarri on how Juve convinced him:
“I had 30 years of negotiations with clubs, so I think I know how to read people by now. I can read when someone really believes in what he’s saying and is totally convinced.
“It’s not about a phrase, it’s their attitude, their approach, the effort they make to come out and meet you. It shows their conviction that they want you specifically as their Coach.
“That was the most important thing, for me.”
Sarri on key players:
“The players who can really change everything are in attack. It’s up to us to organise the players around the field, but in the final third there are players with the talent to make the difference.
“Ronaldo is talented, so is Dybala, Douglas Costa is a potential top player who hasn’t really shown what he can do consistently. These are great talents and we must see how we can build around them, what they can give in defending.
“The players who make the difference are the most talented, so those are the ones you build around.
“I haven’t named Higuain, Mandzukic, I don’t have the entire squad list at my disposal. I was just making some examples, not ruling anyone out.
“Pipa is a lad I love a great deal and it depends on him if he remains.”
Sarri on transfers:
“There are directors here who have been following these players for years, so I will listen to their opinions too.
“Maybe not Higuain, who I know pretty well, but I will first and foremost listen and adapt to what the club suggests. It would be unfair for me to impose my ideas on people who know these players more than me.
“Once I get a clearer idea of what our key system will be, then we’ll talk about transfers. I don’t like to name names to a club, but I am more focused on characteristics and the kind of players I’d like to have. Paratici knows far more players than me, so we’re in good hands.”
Sarri on what Allegri leaves behind:
“Allegri leaves a lot to live up to. We know full well that it’s not easy to win all that he did over the last five years. His results were extraordinary.
“I’d like to see the same capability that Max gave the team to hold out under pressure for 30 minutes and still win. It’s something I rarely managed, perhaps that is because of my approach. If you get the team accustomed to keeping the ball and they don’t have it for a while, they can struggle and start to panic.
“Allegri’s teams on the other hand seemed to be struggling, but then you always had the thought in your mind that they could win it anyway.”
Paratici on Sarri:
“He was absolutely the first choice. I don’t know what we said to convince him, maybe he just felt we really wanted him.”
Sarri on change of philosophy throughout Juventus:
“I got here yesterday, Sir Alex Ferguson took 20 years to impose a style on the youth teams as well as the senior squad. I’d like to do that, but it’d be a very, very long process meeting with the various youth Coaches. I don’t think I am young enough to stay here as long as Ferguson did at Manchester United.”
Sarri on being a tactical fundamentalist:
“I don’t see how you could say that when I started at Empoli with 4-3-1-2, then moved to 4-3-3 at Napoli and a disguised 4-4-2 at Chelsea.”
Sarri on ‘Sarrismo’:
“I honestly don’t know what Sarrismo is. I read in the dictionary it was more than a tactical philosophy. I have always been me. I might change my views of football and life over the years with experience, but the concepts remain the same.
“I am a direct person, at times a bit too direct, who needs people to be open and say things face to face. This can lead to clashes, but those can be resolved. Rancor only ever occurs because of things that are not said out loud.
“I hope that I never changed the fundamental concepts of my life and football.”
Sarri on De Laurentiis or Allegri:
“I have not heard from the President. Everyone thinks I have an ugly rapport with Aurelio, but I will always thank him. How often does a child who supported Napoli get to be their Coach? There can be divergent views along the way, but that’s natural with two strong characters.
“I will not tell you the names of the players I did hear from, not even under torture, because those are strictly personal.
“At times, I chat with Allegri via common friends, but so far I haven’t heard from him. I hope to do so during the summer. We tend to joke around, though, we don’t usually discuss anything serious.”
Sarri on Higuain:
“I haven’t spoken to Gonzalo since the post-Europa League Final party. I had to get my ideas sorted on Juve and this club.
“He is a Juventus player, so when he returns from vacation, we’ll have the opportunity to talk.
“Gonzalo has the characteristics that allow him to play with anyone. I said it depends on Gonzalo because I get the feeling he didn’t enjoy the post-Juventus experience and was a little shaken after that season, these things happen. If he can get a strong reaction, he can play another 3-4 years at a high level.”
Does Sarri have regrets on his past behaviour?:
“I don’t know what the Juve Style is or if I’ll be asked to adapt. I went to dinner last night and saw no real difference.
“I said some things wrong, others were used to mean something different that I did not mean.
“People keep using that phrase I said, how do you get a penalty, have a striped jersey, but they forget that was after Empoli-Milan….
“With the finger, I was wrong and I reacted excessively towards 10-20 stupid idiots, not towards Juventus fans. I said that even at the time. If out of 40,000 people there are 10 idiots who spit at you, then the reaction came. I do not consider those people to be Juventus fans.”
Sarri on Bernardeschi:
“Everyone knows I like this lad, ever since Fiorentina-Napoli. He is well-organised, has talent, but lacks a little bit of consistency from game to game. I think this is the moment of his career where he needs to play consistently in one single role.”
Sarri on Chelsea pressure:
“The English media is made up of big newspapers and then the tabloids on an inferior level.
“It fortifies you, but what disappointed me was that in Italy people only reported the attacks of the tabloids and not the more prestigious and reliable newspapers like The Times.
“Attacks do make you stronger.”
Sarri on improving Juventus:
“It’s not about working on one area. Clearly, my style of football is different. I have to figure out how much I can bring of my ideas and be productive.
“I have to gain more points, not fewer, while using my philosophy. It’s about the balance of how much is down to the tactics and how much we leave in the hands of the players.
“If you ask my opinion, I’d like to see Pjanic touch the ball 150 times per game. However, it’s about balancing everything and the various characteristics.
“I tend to give a lot more freedom to my teams from the final third, as that is where the players can improvise a little more.
“Every team is like a son, you can’t all have the same, nor should you want to. They all have their characteristics.”
Paratici on Pogba and Rabiot:
“Pogba is a Manchester United player, he was with us for many years, he grew up here and we love him, but he is a Manchester United player.
“There are many clubs who want Rabiot. We are in the running, not just for him, but the other targets in our minds. We’ll discuss it with Maurizio and try to find the right targets together for the team we want to see.”