“Sarriball is like an orchestra in which everyone plays their part. It only works when everyone plays their part.” – Gianfranco Zola
After the losses against Arsenal, Spurs and now Bournemouth in the recent few weeks, part of our fan base have turned against the manager Maurizio Sarri and want him out. Some even said we should hire back Conte or Mourinho. Some people called him a ‘fraud’ and others called him an ‘Italian Scolari’.
But does Sarri deserve all these criticism? Who is at fault here? The team or the manager? Above all these, are we doing it right? Is this the Sarriball or Sarrismo that we were promised? Let’s see.
What is Sarriball?
When asked about his footballing philosophy, Sarri said, “Our team always tries to take the initiative and play our football, regardless of venue, opponent or situation. That is our philosophy.”
And some fans don’t get it. They want Sarri to adapt to EPL and change his philosophy according to the opponents. I don’t know if you’d noticed, but that’s what Conte used to do. If you are expecting the same from the next manager too, then what’s the point in getting rid of Conte?
A philosophy should not and need not be changed. It is the players that need to change themselves. For once, we have a manager who has a proper philosophy and wants to stick to it. Wish everyone understands that and get on board.
Characteristics of Sarriball
Sarriball has some well-defined attributes that are distinctive and unique. They are as follow.
- Retention of possession (especially in the defensive third)
- Vertical passes while moving the team forward
- Quick interchanges in the attacking third
- A high defensive-line (excellent understanding needed between centerbacks to set offside traps)
- Continuous pressing till getting the ball back
To understand how exactly it works, let’s see the one goal which was a prime example of how Sarriball is supposed to be played.
It starts with Hazard passing the ball to Jorginho.
Seeing the space on the right, Jorginho passes it to Azpi.
Azpi passed it to Pedro who dropped deep to receive the ball. Upon receiving the ball, Pedro is up against three City players.
Seeing there is no space for him to pass the ball, Pedro sends it back to Azpi who then passes it to Rudiger.
Rudiger then passing it back to Azpi for seemingly no reason. This time Azpi sends the ball back again to Rudiger. However, this time it was a bit overhit.
The overhit ball from Azpi started the press from Man City players led by Riyad Mahrez. Rudiger passes the ball to Luiz and Luiz then passes it to Alonso on his left. Meanwhile, City players are pressing high up the pitch to win the ball. Alonso passes the ball back to Luiz.
Now Luiz makes that inch-perfect pass to Pedro who then passes it to the left wing. Willian who took Walker with him when Luiz had the ball ran back and left Walker in the dust.
Now after some quick interchanges in the final third between Willian, Alonso and Hazard, Hazard passes it to the space in the box from which Kante scores the first goal of the match.
Many saw it as a counterattack move but little did they know the ball was with Chelsea from the beginning. They didn’t hit City on the break.
They retained the possession in the defensive third, created the space necessary from moving the opponents (City), made an excellent vertical pass and finally scored a goal with the help of quick interchanging passes from the forwards in the attacking third.
And that is Sarriball. As far as I know, in this season, we barely played the way Sarri wanted us to. So if you are asking for Sarri’s head when we haven’t even understood how his methods work, then it’s not the manager’s fault.
If you look at it properly, you’d understand that Sarriball is better than Pep’s style of football and Klopp’s too. It is superior to counterattacking football as well. Sarri’s style of football has the possession that Pep’s team enjoys and creates the space that only counterattacking football has.
As Sarri himself admitted yesterday, this Chelsea team haven’t even learned the basics of Sarriball yet. We can either wait for them to understand or we can get the players that are ready to understand and adapt. All I can say now is trust the system and trust Sarri.
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Written by Sarav