Sarri just won his first Scudetto with Juventus with many people criticizing him regarding how the title was won, which eventually led him to get replaced by former Juventus midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo.
Let’s talk about his gameplay. First of all, one concern is about how the team has played throughout the season. Maurizio Sarri was brought in also because of his “style” of football, the so-called Sarryball or Sarrismo (English and Italian “definitions”, that I personally don’t like). Juventus has not improved that much according to the public opinion, why?
Even though he’s different than Allegri, Sarri can’t turn Matuidi into Hamsik, no matter how hard he tries.
Their qualities differ, therefore the end-results will accordingly. The same goes for the expectations regarding the offensive phase: in Napoli he could count on Mertens, Callejon, and Insigne (occasionally Milik) while in Turin he had the luxury of coaching players like Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and so on.
Again, while in Napoli there was a clear structure, a 4–3–3 where it was Insigne and Callejon played as wingers and Mertens played upfront, Juventus didn’t have the same clear system. Their 4–3–3 has Cristiano Ronaldo occupying spaces that aren’t necessarily the ones a proper 9 would occupy, and Dybala mostly playing on the right, therefore sometimes Juventus lacked that solution they have when Higuain comes in, which is a proper striker who allows the team to play a more structured and less individualistic football.
This doesn’t mean Sarri isn’t guilty at all. For instance, Pjanic hasn’t played his best season. He was hardly criticized. And even though I think a lot of those comments were harsh since it’s not normal to ask the “metodista” in a 4–3–3 to produce as much as someone who plays higher on the pitch, the burden of the critics has to be shared with the coach.
This ended up in a squad that not only doesn’t play as fast as expected but also relies a lot on their top-players abilities instead of teams’ combinations. This is fair, that’s why Juventus can win some games even though they may not deserve it, what worries is the frequency this has happened.
Last but not least another concern is about how many goals Juventus conceded this season, 43 to be precise. Chiellini’s injury didn’t help, but it doesn’t completely explain how a team that relied heavily on their defence was able to concede one more goal than Lazio and “only” three less than Atalanta, whose players’ quality should be remarkably inferior.
In conclusion, Sarri has been criticized a lot because many expected him to offer a more enjoyable kind of football, but that wasn’t possible.