PERTH: Amid the downpour in Perth that made the WACA’s usually pristine turf feel more like a paddling pool, one training drill in particular stood out.
It started with Chelsea’s players playing with the ball at the back, producing one-touch passes as if for the sake of it, before a whistled signal from Maurizio Sarri.
Suddenly, choreographed chaos. The ball had to be handed to Jorginho and the entire team would break at electrifying speed, the move eventually ending once Alvaro Morata had scored.
An exercise in how to go from back to front in less than 10 seconds, essentially, and one we can expect to see examined on Match of the Day this season.
If they scored, Sarri would shout: ‘Again.’ If they missed: ‘Again.’ If they messed it up midway through: ‘Again.’ Repetitive, but the new boss wants this to become second nature.
‘Sarrismo,’ is what they called it in Italy. ‘Sarri-ball,’ is what they’re calling it at Chelsea. This is the Sarri style of play which he promised Blues bosses will work in the Premier League.
Under Antonio Conte, there were complaints of dull defensive work becoming too mundane to bear at Cobham. Sarri’s at least focused on attack in Australia on Saturday.
Maybe it was for the benefit of local Premier League fanatics who scrambled to catch a glimpse at the WACA, maybe because he knew there was media present.
Yet Sarri, the chain-smoking former banker who never played professional football, did not seem to take note of the intruders. He started the session by coming out early to place cones in their correct places, and finished it with the look of a man pleased with his day’s work.
All exercises were conducted under the watchful eye of Sarri while fitness coach Paolo Bertelli was also particularly involved. Gianfranco Zola and Carlo Cudicini stood on the touchline and surveyed from afar, stood by the boundary of the WACA at times.
One drill included keeping possession in tight circles while defenders acted as piggies in the middle. Another was about winning the ball as high up the pitch as possible.
There was also a short 11-a-side match with both teams playing 4-2-3-1 in the first half then 4-3-3 in the second. Jorginho the orchestrator on one side;CescFabregas on the other.
As a first glimpse of Sarri at work on the training ground, this was revealing. Conte was known for being temperamental. His successor, still idolised in Napoli, was given few reasons to lose his cool here.
Sarri arrived in Australia with his new squad on Thursday night and scheduled double sessions for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Another will follow on Monday ahead of their friendly on the night.
At the end of Saturday’s session, utterly saturated, Sarri left the pitch pleased with his near two hours of work, exchanging handshakes with staff.
Sarri’s message at his unveiling was one of ‘fun’ – he mentioned the word a total of 11 times during that first press conference at Stamford Bridge.
He means business in Australia but Luiz and Co say they are fully committed to ‘Sarri-ball’. Funner times ahead, they hope, and one laden with silverware. (Courtesy The Daily Mail)