Maurizio Sarri shares his thoughts on the relative strength of top-level club football compared with the international stage, and moves the VAR debate on from Tuesday’s controversial game at Tottenham…
Next week, Maurizio Sarri will have his full squad available to train throughout a midweek without a match for the first time since the last week of August. In his first season in charge of Chelsea and with such a crowded fixture list to negotiate, the team and the style of play he wants to see is very much a work in progress but even though that is the case, the boss believes that in the unlikely scenario the Blues were to take on the England national time, we could beat them.
This topic of club versus country, in its most literal form, was reached from a discussion initially about Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR).
The system, such a source of controversy on Tuesday night when we played Tottenham, is widely said to have worked well at the World Cup in the summer. Sarri however does not wish to comment on that, having given the tournament in Russia little attention. He explained why.
‘I did not see anything at the World Cup. I don’t like the national teams. There is nothing to learn,’ Sarri said.
‘Every coach thinks like me, but it is unusual to say it. It is impossible to organise very well a team in 30 days. I think every team in the World Cup would lose against a top-level club team in every match, but I think also that it is normal, because in a club you have time to organise a team, in a national team you have no time to organise the team so it is very difficult to see an organised team in the Euros or the World Cup. It is only a question of time I think.’
When asked the direct could Chelsea beat England question, Sarri’s response was: ‘I think so, why not, our level is not less than the England national team.
‘We can draw, we can lose, we can win. Maybe [I have had] more time than the national team but not enough to organise the team as I want. Next week will be the first week without three matches since August. The time is not enough.’
Sarri was sharing his thoughts before today’s Newcastle game while sporting freshly cut hair, a regular tradition/superstition which he explained follows a defeat. Though his latest crop was initiated by a first-leg loss suffered in such debatable circumstances, the Italian does not wish to dwell on the VAR decision to over-rule the offside decision prior to the decisive penalty.
‘I think it was a mistake but it was not really very important when you are talking about 10 seconds of the match and when you have to think about the other 89 minutes. It is not important, it is only a referee’s decision, but I have to analyse the full match and we need to think how to solve our problems, we don’t need to think about the referee. It is not important.
‘The problem is not the referee or another,’ he added. ‘The problem for me is they are not ready to use the Video Assistant Referee. It is not easy because if you look at the linesman he stopped the run and for a player, this is the sign of offside. It is normal, they need only to get used to using the system.
‘I don’t like the VAR but that is only my opinion. We risk changing the atmosphere in the stadium, you score but you have to wait for 30 seconds to celebrate the goals. It is negative for the atmosphere in the stadium.
‘I am used to playing with the system because in Italy we used this system starting three years ago. I don’t like it but that is only my opinion. I prefer it like it is now in England.’