Maurizio Sarri thanks ‘very good coach’ Rafa Benitez ahead of Newcastle United v Chelsea
When Rafa Benitez decided not to stay on at Napoli after his initial two year contract ended, Maurizio Sarri was his replacement.
Rafa Benitez leaving to take the Real Madrid job, before then later joining Newcastle United in March 2016.
As for Sarri, he spent three years at the Serie A club before an approach from Chelsea brought him to West London after Antonio Conte was sacked in July.
After the Chelsea players helped get rid of yet another manager, despite Conte winning both Premier League and FA Cup in his two year stay, it is now down to the new man to try and satisfy the demands of both Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea supporters.
Newcastle have won four and drawn one of the last five games against Chelsea at St James Park, the blues not winning since 2011, maybe the biggest challenge so far for Maurizio Sarri after victories over Huddersfield and Arsenal.
Friday afternoon saw Maurizio Sarri meet the media ahead of Sunday’s match:
“I have to say thank you to Rafa.
“When I arrived in Naples I had the feeling that the team was almost ready to play my football.
“If I arrived after another coach (and not Rafa) it may have been more difficult for me.
“He is a very good coach and Sunday will be very difficult for us.
“Chelsea lost 3-0 at Newcastle last season, Manchester United and Arsenal also lost there.”
Will Eden Hazard stay at Chelsea?:
“I think so.
“I’m a coach of a very good team, a great club. It’s so important that we don’t sell an important player and not replace him at the same level.
“Eden will stay with us for the season. I am happy with him and he wants to play. It’s the right way to think for him but I have to think for everybody.
“I don’t know if Eden is ready for 90 minutes. He can start but like Eden I think he’s only ready to play for 60 minutes (at the most).
“I chose to put on the bench two wingers (at Arsenal).
“I have spoken with him twice after I spoke with the club and I think he will remain with us. We can speak again about his situation but only in December.”
On Gary Cahill being out of the team:
“I told him that he will need to be patient but he is still very important to us.”
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