Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had already won five major club trophies when he arrived at Stamford Bridge and wasted no time adding to that tally, winning the Premier League in his first season in England and adding an FA Cup the following term.
However, things still turned sour during his second year in charge and there was a sense of inevitability when he departed during the summer.
Chelsea is a club where the bar is set high. Trophies are important, but so is the style of football. In recent years, subsequent managers have failed to provide the mix of both owner Roman Abramovich and his directors have been craving. So, how will Maurizio Sarri, a boss who has yet to win a single trophy during his career, fare under these strict conditions?
There is no doubt Sarri has the ability to deliver the kind of football Chelsea want to see. His Napoli side played some of the most exciting football in Europe during his three-year tenure and the Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola, described them as the best team he had played against. Yet they failed to win a single trophy during his reign, despite pushing Juventus close in last year’s title race.
Will Chelsea be happy with great football but no trophies? Or will Sarri have to deliver both to survive longer than his predecessor in London?
One of the problems that faced Conte was player dissatisfaction. By the end of his reign, some players, including Willian, were not enjoying their football and planning to move on. But things already feel different under Sarri.
Alvaro Morata, one of those unhappy with Conte’s approach, has publicly admitted he prefers playing under the new coach’s less-direct style of play. As the team now uses the ball more, the striker can get more involved and find space in the final phase of play.
In terms of winning trophies, it should be taken into consideration the limitations of the squad Sarri had to work within Naples compared the one he has in London. The fact he came so close to toppling Juventus was a massive achievement in itself and many football fans are intrigued to see what he can do with improved resources.
He started well, keeping pace with pace-setters Liverpool and surprise package Watford, but there is still a long way to go and the bookies still have Chelsea as third favourites in the Premier League betting market. The Naples-born technician was accused of being stubborn with his system and team selections in Italy, and of sacrificing their European campaign in pursuit of Serie A glory, but his approach nearly paid off and attracted the interest of several top clubs.
Sarri is a coach that players want to play for. The fact midfielder Jorginho was so keen to follow him to London is testament to that. If he wins trophies without compromising on his style of play, he could find himself staying in the English capital for many years to come, and fans of the Premier League could be in for a treat as he battles the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino.