Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri believes the most sustainable model for football is in England: “The FA Cup final is the most-watched match in the world after the Champions League.” The former Chelsea and Juve coach spoke with Italian newspaper La Repubblica about a range of footballing topics, beginning with the buildup in the fixture calendar:
“I’ve been talking about it for five years, and yet they’re just saying that I am looking for alibis. These days in Spanish football, the world is collapsing after Gavi’s injury, they call it a ‘Uefa Virus’.
“The only sustainable football is the English one, the most traditionalist, where on Saturday afternoon there is no game on TV because people crowd the stadiums of the minor leagues. The FA Cup final is the most-watched match in the world after the Champions League, and yet for a hundred years it has always had the same rites and is played at Wembley, not in Saudi Arabia.”
“There is an attempt to not bring down the movement in globality. So they are all rich, while our rich are the poor of Europe. Football is an emotional sport: if you take away the emotion, on a television level it is certainly not the best show in the world. The emotion keeps the child alive, he who goes to the stadium, but there is no future if you aim at the audience who only watch the highlights.
“How many games should a player play in a year? At most 50. You could at least start with the small things, such as giving up the summer tours and bringing the Italian Cup back to August, also for the big teams, making them play on the fields of Serie C teams, which would make money to live all year round. But for sure they would tell us that there is a problem of public order, so Juve can’t go to Campobasso.”
“Will I coach Lazio and then quit? I wish it was the case. I don’t put time limits, so it’s not just up to me.
“Saudi Arabia? Can I smoke there? Then we’ll see. However, it is not a programmable thing today. If I think about the future, I would like to be the coach of Lazio at Flaminio. It’s a project in which Lotito believes in, even if obviously he wants guarantees…..”
“Didn’t I have fun at Juventus? Everything was due there, and we just had to win the Champions League, but it was a polluted message. I won the Scudetto with a group at the end of their cycle and a club that took me because it had the desire but not the conviction to change playing style.”
“At Chelsea I had a hard time settling into an atypical club, without a director, where no coach could last two years. But then in the last few months I enjoyed myself and I made the mistake of wanting to leave, not so much from Chelsea, which who have kept me, but from the Premier League, a uniquely beautiful environment. Coming back to Italy was a mistake.”
“De Zerbi? We talk sometimes, even though he never played with me. After all, I fell in love with football watching Sacchi’s teams, for the sense of order they gave me, which I had never seen before. Arrigo, I got to know much later, but it was he who inspired me.
“A former player of mine who could perpetuate Sarrismo? Maccarone, who until a few weeks ago was coaching Piacenza in Serie D: I hope he is at the start of a great career. He’s a player who has had much less than he deserved, but he’s grown fond of our type of football and is now trying to reproduce it.”