Sarri: Pep warned me about first year

Ital­ian told by Guardi­ola to ex­pect tough start Chelsea man­ager rules out spend­ing spree

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Matt Law FOOT­BALL NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Maurizio Sarri has re­vealed that Manch­ester City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola warned him he would not be able to im­prove all of his Chelsea play­ers dur­ing his first year in charge. But the head coach has ruled out fol­low­ing Guardi­ola’s ex­am­ple and spend­ing £200 mil­lion to im­prove his squad at the end of his first sea­son.

Guardi­ola won his open­ing 10 games at City, but the club even­tu­ally fin­ished third in the Premier League ta­ble and with­out a tro­phy.

Sarri started life at Chelsea with an 18-game un­beaten run af­ter los­ing the Com­mu­nity Shield, but the Blues look on course for a bat­tle to fin­ish in the top four af­ter los­ing two of their past three Premier League games ahead of City’s visit to Stam­ford Bridge to­day.

It was in June, be­fore he was ap­pointed by Chelsea the fol­low­ing month, that Sarri met with Guardi­ola and for­mer Italy and AC Mi­lan man­ager Ar­rigo Sac­chi.

Asked what Guardi­ola had told him, Sarri said: “He told me the first sea­son in Eng­land is re­ally very dif­fi­cult. For him, it’s im­pos­si­ble to im­prove, in the first sea­son, 20 play­ers.

“He told me, in the first sea­son, you have to work only on 14 play­ers other­wise you are in trou­ble.”

The ques­tion is whether Sarri will sur­vive the type of dif­fi­cult start Guardi­ola ex­pe­ri­enced at City. “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the club,” he said. “If Guardi­ola had no time at City? Maybe the best team in the world isn’t City in the past year.”

Guardi­ola re­acted to his tough first sea­son by adding Kyle Walker, Ben­jamin Mendy, Eder­son, Bernardo Silva and Danilo to his squad in 2017, and City won the league with 100 points. But Sarri re­jected the the­ory that Chelsea will have to match City’s spend­ing to make ground on the cham­pi­ons. “We need to change the men­tal­ity, not be­cause the old men­tal­ity was bad,” he said. “But it’s not suit­able with the new way of play­ing.

“You have to cre­ate a new style of play­ing. We need to ar­rive at 95 per cent of our po­ten­tial and then we can get the last five per cent with a new player. With a new player, not 11 new play­ers.”

One area Chelsea will look at strength­en­ing is in at­tack, with Al­varo Mo­rata, Olivier Giroud and even Eden Haz­ard strug­gling to find con­sis­tency in front of goal.

“If you have a player who is able to score ev­ery match, it’s re­ally im­por­tant, but I think that’s im­pos­si­ble,” said Sarri. “It’s dif­fi­cult for a striker to score in ev­ery match.”

When it was put to Sarri that Ser­gio Aguero, Harry Kane and Pierre Em­er­ick-aubameyang are all pro­lific for their clubs, Sarri replied: “Not in ev­ery match. Ev­ery two is pos­si­ble. In ev­ery match, it’s dif­fi­cult for any­one. If you have a player like this, you are lucky.”

Im­prove­ment: Maurizio Sarri is work­ing to change the men­tal­ity at Chelsea

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