After a summer of limbo and frustration, Chelsea fans were finally given the news they had expected for months: Maurizio Sarri appointed as the new Blues boss.
How long his stay at SW6 will be is impossible to calculate given the short stay of his predecessor Antonio Conte, but his forthcoming reign will bring a lot of intrigue and excitement given the exciting, expansive and progressive style of play he implemented at Napoli.
Let’s take a look at seven things Sarri must do as Chelsea manager going forward.
7. Help Alvaro Morata Find His Goalscoring Form Again
One of Chelsea fans’ biggest frustrations during the 2017/18 was the form of Alvaro Morata. After coming in for a record fee last summer, the Spanish forward hit the ground running quickly looking to fill the boots of Diego Costa.
However, a run of injuries and high profile misses led to a drop in confidence and meant the goals dried up quickly post Christmas.
It’s imperative to Chelsea’s ambitions that they can rely on a forward to deliver goals consistently and Morata has to be that man. Sarri needs to make Morata the focal point to his attack and create a system that allows the number nine to flourish and terrify defences like he did early on last season.
6. Replicate Jorginho’s Success For Napoli
Hijacking the deal for Jorginho from under Manchester City’s noses is a massive coup for Chelsea and highlights the importance of Sarri to the player.
Playing as a deep-lying midfielder for Napoli, Chelsea will hope Jorginho can replace Cesc Fabregas as the player to dictate and control the tempo of Sarri’s system, and he showed last campaign why his passing ability has made him such a hot commodity.
If Sarri can get the same level of performance out of the Brazil-born Italy international then Chelsea could have the signing of the summer on their hands.
5. Help Further the Development of Rudiger and Christensen
Two of the positives to come out of a pretty dismal season last term was the emergence of Andreas Christensen and the signing of Antonio Rudiger.
Both blossomed in parts of the season, with Christensen displacing David Luiz in Conte’s back three, showing his calmness to play out from the back. Antonio Rudiger found it more difficult to pin down a starting place but, when given the chance, put in some dominant performances late in the season against Liverpool in the league and Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
Both are young players with room to grow and both add the athleticism and technique needed for Sarri’s attacking system.
4. Keep Good Relations With the Board
This may seem an impossibility but it was Antonio Conte’s downfall.
Sarri has signed with a club that is quite clearly opposed to handing managers unchallenged power in the transfer window. There are hills to die on and this isn’t one of them and will be a battle Sarri will never win.
He needs to stick to the football and get the best out of the players at his disposal. This is easier said than done.
3. Bring Silverware
It’s harsh but true.
No Chelsea manager can survive without trophies. For all the beautiful football they might produce, results and silverware are what their reign will be judged on.
For all of Conte’s failings, it’s hard to argue against a Premier League and FA Cup in two seasons. Until the culture at the club changes, Sarri will have to bring success to the Blues’ trophy cabinet or he will be the next in a long line of sacked managers.
2. Give Loftus-Cheek the Chance He Deserves
If you said to any Chelsea fan 12 months ago that Loftus-Cheek would be featuring for England at the World Cup, most would’ve laughed.
With little hope of first team minutes at Chelsea, an international cap seemed lightyears away. However, a loan move to Palace would turn out to be the making of the young midfielder who, thrived under Roy Hodgson and earned a seat on England’s plane to Russia.
Now is the time for Loftus-Cheek to return to his parent club and be given the opportunity to break into the first 11. Chelsea fans are crying out for a homegrown player to celebrate and there seems no one better to fill that role than Loftus-Cheek.
1. Keep Eden Hazard
This is the single biggest challenge facing Chelsea this summer.
Whether it’s down to Sarri or not, keeping Eden Hazard will define Chelsea’s upcoming season. Now with clarity over the manager, the Belgian might put to bed any previous frustrations clearly expressed since May.
Hazard has longed to play in an attacking system which gives him the full freedom to unlock his world class ability. Under Sarri, this looks likely to happen and could be the key factor in keeping Hazard in West London.
Without Hazard, Sarri’s first season will be a struggle.