Maurizio Sarri has revealed he had a “confrontational relationship with the Chelsea dressing room” during his first six months in charge at the club, but says the players eventually learned to appreciate his character.
Sarri was drafted in to replace Antonio Conte in the Stamford Bridge hot seat in the summer of 2018, after an impressive three-year spell with Italian giants Napoli.
The 61-year-old tactician quickly set about implementing his own unique philosophy at Chelsea, based on quick passing interchanges and building attacks from the back.
He was criticised for his predictable formation and selection choices, but the Blues were right in the mix for major honours across the board until the second half of the 2018-19 season.
It was after Christmas when results began to take a turn for the worse, and following Chelsea’s worst-ever Premier League defeat in a 6-0 away drubbing at the hands of Manchester City, Sarri was left on the brink of the sack.
Sarri was also embroiled in a fierce on-field dispute with first-choice goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga during a Carabao Cup final loss to City, as the Spaniard refused to come off as a substitute during extra time.
The Italian head coach was, however, able to oversee a strong finish to the campaign, securing a top-four finish while also winning the first major trophy of his managerial career by conquering the Europa League.
Sarri admits that he didn’t always see eye to eye with his players at the Bridge , but believes he had earned their trust by the end of his tenure, as he took the decision to return to Italy after receiving an offer from Juventus.
“I had a conflicted relationship with the Chelsea dressing room but, when I told them I’d be leaving, many of them cried,” he told Juve’s official YouTube channel .
“I’m not so much a person who pats others on the back. I talk a lot about what they do wrong and less about the good things they do.
“I think that has a big impact, but then they learn to appreciate you for who you are. The longest relationships are with the lads I played least, so I think they recognise something once they absorb your character.”
Sarri also opened up on his underwhelming experience of living in England, before conceding he misses the intensity and quality of Premier League football.
“I would never live there [again], I don’t understand how the Italians who are there do it,” he added.
“As for the football, it’s a different story. I miss the Premier League. It has an extraordinary technical level and an incredible atmosphere.”