After weeks of speculation that this was going to be Maurizio Sarri’s final Napoli campaign, rumor turned into reality on Wednesday, just a few short days after Napoli’s season came to a disappointing end.
Ringrazio Maurizio Sarri per la sua preziosa dedizione al Calcio Napoli che ha permesso di regalare alla città e ai tifosi azzurri in tutto il mondo prestigio ed emozioni, creando un modello di gioco ammirato ovunque e da chiunque. Bravo Maurizio.— AurelioDeLaurentiis (@ADeLaurentiis) May 23, 2018
Aurelio De Laurentiis #ADL
I would like to thank Maurizio Sarri for his precious dedication to Calcio Napoli, which has made it possible to give prestige and emotions to the city and to the blue fans all over the world, creating a model of play admired everywhere and by anyone.
Aurelio De Laurentiis
Sarri has already been replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, but we’ll have more on that later. This is about Sarri.
While technically Sarri was sacked, by the sound of things it was a fairly mutual decision between himself and Aurelio De Laurentiis. The feeling has been for some time that Sarri wanted a bigger challenge than Napoli, and after this season’s campaign it’s hard to see Napoli growing much further under him. His sometimes-frustrating personnel and rotation policies left the squad lacking energy and momentum at key moments of the season, key moments that left Napoli unable to go that last half-measure to beat Juventus for the title.
Make no mistake though, this was still an incredible campaign for Sarri and Napoli. The 91 points they earned are a club record, and at their best they played a style of football that drew worldwide praise. But there were also signs that Napoli had peaked under him, and with most of their attacking core getting a little up in years — Marek Hamsik, Dries Mertens, and Jose Callejon are all over 30 with a lot of miles on their legs — there was little reason to think that things would improve much in another season. With Sarri also hinting in recent interviews that some of his key players might not remain with the club thanks to the frustrating magic of release clauses, the time seems to be now to make this kind of change.
It’s sad to see Sarri leave Napoli, though. While there were certainly frustrations with him during his tenure — that damn lack-of-rotation policy — he really seemed to understand Napoli in a way that most managers just can’t. It’s not often that we see a manager and club just fit each other the way Napoli and Sarri did, hopefully he can find that kind of magic elsewhere as well. I just hope he’s as ready for a club like Chelsea as he seems to think he is.