Maurizio Sarri and Juventus: A Relationship That Never Worked

They never really seemed to fit each other, Maurizio Sarri and Juventus. And the former Napoli and Chelsea Comandante’s adventure at the helm of the Bianconeri ended today as the Turin club announced his sacking.

Maurizio Sarri leaves after just one season where he conquered a Scudetto but failed to win any other trophy and, moreover, his supporters and management’s hearts.

Sarri ultimately paid for Friday’s night elimination from the Champions League at the end of a game which saw Lyon playing better than Juventus, and the white-and-blacks scrambling to win 2-1 only thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s heroics – but still crashing out of the competition on away goals.

That was the last straw in a season where the Bianconeri truly underperformed despite conquering yet another Italian title. But that was the bare minimum expected from Sarri, in the eyes of management and of a fan base who is desperately hungry for international silverware.

Juventus captured their ninth Scudetto in a row but did so in an all but unimpressive way, collecting “only” 83 points – Juve’s worst since 9 years – conceding 7 losses in the process (two of which in the last two games, which says a lot about the Bianconeri’s mental toughness) and grabbing the title for the first time without having neither the best attack nor the best defense in the league.

All in all, it was a title facilitated by the sudden demise of Antonio Conte’s Inter and by the inexperience of unexpected contenders Lazio and Atalanta.

Despite the Scudetto glory, Juventus failed to win two additional domestic trophies, losing to Lazio in the Italian Supercup and to Napoli in the Coppa Italia Final. And then came their Champions League elimination, at the hand of a club who had been playing only one official game since the COVID-19 lock-down and still appeared in much better shape than the Old Lady. That must have prompted Juventus’ establishment to believe that enough is enough.

Cristiano Ronaldo was rumored to have a problem with Maurizio Sarri all over the season as Juventus tried to cover up the mounting divide

After the game, Juventus president Andrea Agnelli had remarked that the club was going to “take a few days to make some evaluation” and that in any case their season shouldn’t be judged by a single game. And that is exactly the point: Sarri’s sacking may look like an impulsive decision and a direct consequence of Juve’s poor showdown in Champions League, but that’s not how Juventus work.

The Agnellis are used to run their business in a controlled and considerate way and if the Bianconeri decided to part ways with their coach after just one season, they must have been considering it for quite some time. The signs of Sarri’s struggles were all there, from the so-much-praised Sarriball that was nowhere to be seen, to a somewhat difficult coexistence with the larger-than-life presence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

CR7 landed in Turin with the specific objective of bringing back to Juve the top continental trophy after 24 years. Having failed to do so for the second year in a row, and at the end of a game where he basically seemed the only one not to quickly raise a white flag, may elicit some mumbling on the part of the Portuguese – who still has one year of contract with Juventus but is rumored to be potentially looking at other opportunities.

Add to that that his relationship with Sarri has been reported as not been idyllic – the Comandante is perhaps the only coach who has dared to bench him for two games in a row… – and it is not difficult to imagine which of the two Juventus would decide to push off the edge of the tower when necessary.

And so, the curtains fell on Maurizio Sarri’s adventure at the helm of a club that never looked “his own.” The Comandante is a spontaneous, hot-blooded personality who clashed with Juventus’ sober corporate identity. He is a man of jumpers and trainers, rather than of suits and ties. That’s why Sarri thrived in such passionate environments as Napoli and Chelsea.

That is also why, as soon as the news of his dismissal spread, he was promptly linked to another turbulent environment like Roma – who might be looking for a new coach following Dan Friedkin’s purchase of the club.

As for Juventus, the issue of Sarri’s replacement is going to be a trending talking point in the coming weeks – with potential names like Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino, or even Massimiliano Allegri already emerging.