From Baku - Just three months ago, swathes of the Chelsea fans sang it with vigour, disgust and impatience. 'F*ck Sarriball' - it was the response to losing 2-0 at home to Manchester United in the FA Cup.
He's had a rough first year in England, Maurizio Sarri. He wasn't brought to Chelsea because of a storied history of lifting trophies, like most who fell before him, but a style of play. An identity. His philosophy. We've spent most of his first year in London waiting to see what all that fuss from Napoli was about - and we may have had a glimpse of it in Baku on Wednesday night.
You can point to Arsenal's soft underbelly - it was definitely there in their 4-1 loss to the Blues in the Europa League final - but what we saw in the second half from Chelsea was a real show. Four goals, a succession of chances, always on the hunt for more, and a European trophy in the end.
It seemed as though Sarri's players have finally got it. The Italian admitted he's been happy with his players over the last few months, he even "loves" them now, while the months before were difficult to manage. David Luiz, senior Chelsea player and seemingly the spokesperson for the club this week in Azerbaijan, reaffirmed after the win that the team firmly stand with their boss.
"It's his first season in the club," said the Brazilian. "He did great - he's a great person, a great guy, great manager - and we finished in the best way for him. We finished winning a trophy in his way. Even after it went to 3-1, we tried to play his philosophy and score more goals."
That's exactly what Sarriball's about, and it seems like it's finally - after "all the difficulties", as Luiz put it himself - clicking with the players at the 60-year-old's disposal. It's time for those supporters who so made their disapproval known so vocally three months ago to catch up.
Speaking to Chelsea fans both in Azerbaijan's capital and in London over the last couple of weeks, there's been an overriding message that Sarri just isn't the right fit. Whether that changes remains to be seen.
Their complaints? Too emotional, this 'forriner' coming in trying to implement the ideas that got him this job, lots of boring possession, not enough goals, third place in the Premier League behind its two best teams ever, reaching the finals of one domestic competition and winning one in Europe. Y'know, not the right fit. Not good enough for a first season. Get a winner in and start the cycle again, that'll fix it. Or Frank Lampard, won loads as a player. He gets it.
Those Chelsea fans who were chanting “f*** Sarriball” now get to celebrate end of season with 3rd place finish and European trophy delivered by Sarri— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) May 29, 2019
Chelsea may be forced to look to Lampard, Massimiliano Allegri, or anyone else linked with this job should Sarri leave. There's been strong and repeated links with Juventus over the last couple of weeks, and while Sarri openly stated that he deserves another year in the wake of winning his first trophy as a professional manager after 16 years, only an upcoming meeting with Marina Granovskaia will decide whether he leads the Blues into next season.
Should he walk away, or even be pushed, he can at least now do so with his head held high. But for Chelsea, Baku seemed like a watershed moment. It doesn't come much sweeter than stomping all over a city rival in a major European final, and it could be a glimpse into what's to come for a man who just hasn't been given his chance yet.
Eden Hazard at Chelsea:— Scott Saunders (@_scottsaunders) May 29, 2019
2 x Premier League winner
1 x FA Cup winner
1 x EFL Cup winner
2 x Europa League winner
1 x PFA Players’ Player of the Year
4 x Chelsea Player of the Year
4 x PFA PL Team of the Year
What a player. pic.twitter.com/7PZm4sED6I
Managers with ideals take time to work out. You only have to look at Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola at Liverpool and Manchester City for proof of that. And Chelsea owe it to their current boss to back him, change their reputation of ruthlessness, and build a style of their own that isn't all about winning at any costs.
Because if there's anything we've learned from the last two years in English football, and especially Wednesday night in Baku, style can win trophies too.
Source : 90min