Maurizio Sarri was sacked from Juventus but never did the Turin club envision dismissing him at this early stage.
Fabio Paratici, Juve’s Chief Football Officer, had staunchly defended the decision to appoint Sarri last summer after a prolonged battle with Chelsea over securing the Italian’s services.
There had been talk of Sarri’s fate being out of his hands prior to the Lyon result anyway, but the disastrous Champions League exit to the French outfit only made an angry President Andrea Agnelli even more furious and forced his hand, culminating in the former Chelsea boss’ sacking on Saturday.
Maurizio Sarri was sacked by Juventus following their disastrous defeat to Lyon on Friday
Club president Andrea Agnelli acted decisively to remove Sarri and instil Andrea Pirlo
The Old Lady’s belief in ‘Sarriball’ has seriously backfired, with Sarri’s 4-3-3 system often looking disjointed and their attacking play sterile and ineffective, despite the retention of the domestic title this season.
The club will now have to pay off the remainder of the 61-year-old’s two-year contract, worth around £22m, in a serious blow to Agnelli.
Friday night’s defeat to Lyon was the straw that broke the camel’s back, with Agnelli left with no choice but to part ways with the eccentric coach and line up a sensational move to place Andrea Pirlo at the helm. Sportsmail documents the final moments of Sarri’s sorry reign in Turin.
Sportsmail documents the final hours of Sarri’s tenure as Juve turn to a club legend
AGNELLI FURIOUS AT EXIT TO A ‘WEAK CLUB’
In the immediate aftermath of Friday’s result, Agnelli conducted an interview with Sky Sports Italia in a bid to explain where he felt the club went wrong after their disastrous exit to Lyon.
‘The thing that saddens us is that we were eliminated from Europe by an opponent not very difficult to beat,’ he said. ‘When Lyon’s name came out of the hat none of us cried out of despair. ‘
Agnelli’s anger derived from the fact that Juventus failed in their most important game, at the most important time, of the season, and worse still, displayed a total lack of motivation and determination against a favourable opponent in Lyon, save for the efforts of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sarri’s relationship with Agnelli had been rocky towards the end of the 2019-20 campaign
After the defeat to Lyon, the president spoke to Sky Sports Italia and vented his fury
After the game, the club president spoke with Paratici and club legend Pavel Nedved, explaining his desire to take a drastic managerial decision that only grew as the night progressed.
At Juve, the buck stops with the president, who once again chose to defend the players after the game, although he did not make any mention of Sarri’s performance.
There had been tension between Sarri and Agnelli for some time, but Friday’s defeat saw tempers spill over and the relationship was broken beyond repair. Juve had suffered a run of defeats following their confirmation as champions of Serie A which provided cause for concern among club chiefs, and the Lyon defeat demonstrated that Sarri had serious problems managing the dressing room.
Agnelli told Pavel Nedved (right) and Fabio Paratici (left) that he intended to sack Sarri
SENIOR PLAYERS TOLD OF DISMISSAL IN THE MORNING
Once Agnelli had made up his mind, there was no going back for the Juve president. The 44-year-old is known to act decisively and with authority, and his is a well respected and popular presence among key dressing room figures.
However, for Sarri, the former Napoli boss remained confident he would still be at the helm for the new season, having been backed by Paratici.
On Saturday morning, Giorgio Chiellini (left), Gianluigi Buffon (centre), Leonardo Bonucci (right) and Cristiano Ronaldo (far right) were informed of the decision to sack Sarri
On Saturday morning, Agnelli told Juve directors of his decision to sack Sarri, before asking them to informally let the coach and the players know of his decision.
Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Ronaldo and Gianluigi Buffon were the first to be informed by telephone of the major news. In truth, none of the four key players were surprised, given the comments of Agnelli to Sky Sports Italia the night before.
The dismissal of Sarri also garnered reaction from players cast aside by the coach. Mario Mandzukic and Emre Can ‘liked’ various posts on social media pertaining to Sarri’s exit, with the pair leaving the club as a result of falling out of favour under the coach.
The senior players were unsurprised while Emre Can ‘liked’ posts referring to the sacking
Sarri is still in Turin, but once he collects his belongings from the club’s training ground he will retreat to his summer home in Acquaviva Apicena and take some time to reflect.
The 61-year-old stumbled upon the property four years ago in the town of Acquaviva, home to roughly 3,500 residents, and had been planning to spend a couple of weeks before the start of the 2020-21 campaign to unwind.
Following Saturday’s decision, he may well stay at Acquaviva Apicena for a little while longer.
BAFFLING ON-FIELD DECISIONS
Juventus managers tend to shun talk of it, but the expectation for a Champions League triumph lingers over the club and has proven a burden too heavy to bear for a number of coaches in years gone by.
Likewise, when asked, none of Juve’s chiefs committed to discussing the Champions League with the media in a bid to avoid further increasing the pressure on Sarri, but the expectation was that the Italian would take the side deep into the competition.
Sarri made a number of baffling on-field decisions for the Lyon game that proved fatal
He benched Paulo Dybala and introduced him with 20 minutes to go but he got injured
Progressing past Lyon would have eased the pressure on Sarri, but for Juve’s top brass, a number of baffling decisions were made by the coach that did not pay off against the French side.
The decision not to start Paulo Dybala may have been taken so as to preserve the Argentine, who had a niggle that Sarri didn’t want to risk, which appeared wise on the face of it. But in search of a decisive goal, Sarri introduced him with 20 minutes remaining and it came as no surprise to see the 26-year-old pick up a new muscle injury.
His bizarre on-field decisions were matched only by his underwhelming post-match comments, in which he conceded that he ‘expected less’ from his side on Friday night. For a club looking to go all the way in Europe, that comment alone was deemed unacceptable.
Sarri’s post-match comments that he ‘expected less’ from his side proved unacceptable
RONALDO ‘WELCOMES’ SARRI EXIT
Cristiano Ronaldo’s rumoured disliking of Sarri was confirmed by his sister, who shared a controversial tweet to shed a spotlight on the Portuguese superstar’s unhappiness with the coach.
‘Cr7 cannot do everything alone,’ she tweeted earlier this season.
The 35-year-old joined the club to add to his tally of five Champions League titles, so an exit at the Round of 16 would have fallen well short of expectations for the attacker, who has virtually carried the side this season with 37 goals – more than Dybala, Gonzala Higuain and Aaron Ramsay combined.
As such, he has welcomed the decision to sack the 61-year-old, with his lack of tactical philosophy and stifling of his game a frustration for the superstar.
Ronaldo is said to have welcomed Sarri’s departure, having had a frosty relationship with him
AGNELLI TURNS TO PIRLO
Agnelli is the most successful president in the history of Juventus. He has overtaken Boniperti and Vittorio Caissotti Chiusano, former club presidents, with 17 trophies won in 10 years at the helm.
His choices are visionary and his decision to appoint Pirlo may prove another inspired move, although economic reasons are at the heart of his choice to appoint the club legend.
Sarri’s farewell will cost Juventus a pretty penny, and the club could not meet the demands of Mauricio Pochettino – around £8m a year – and Zinedine Zidane – around £11m a year.
So Agnelli has turned to Andrea Pirlo, nine days after he was appointed Under 23 coach
The hefty price paid to Sarri has meant the club aren’t able to meet Mauricio Pochettino’s (pictured) and Zinedine Zidane’s wage demands
Pirlo has signed an agreement until 2022 and did not make any particularly difficult demands. The club has made a small increase on the wage afforded to him when he was appointed U23 boss just nine days ago.
Pirlo is a coach who favours the 4-3-3 system and has an offensive mentality combined with defensive solidity that he learned to appreciate as a player under Antonio Conte and Max Allegri.
It is felt that Pirlo will abide by the strategy put in place by Paratici and Nedved, and he’ll have to first settle a tense dressing room and get the most out of the players at his disposal, including the incoming Arthur and Dejan Kulusevski.
Most importantly, the decision to appoint Pirlo was given the green light by Chiellini, Ronaldo and Buffon. The trio have endorsed the club’s choice and have welcomed Pirlo’s arrival in the first team. The former Juve, AC Milan and Inter star will have Simone Baroio as his assistant.
This is a move that has caught even Pirlo by surprise, as his former Italy team-mate Alessandro Costacurta revealed on Sky Sport that it was one he wasn’t expecting just two or three days ago.
Pirlo’s appointment was approved by the senior players and now he must settle the squad