THERE were no tears for Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea.
Certainly none from the fans, especially those who actually shell out their hard-earned cash to watch the Blues.
Nor from the players. The usual comments when a manager leaves were, it seemed, utterly absent.
And, as the brief statement on the club website, issued in the name of Marina Granovskaia, made pretty clear, none from the board either.
Indeed, if you really want to know how much anybody at the club really cared, go to the website now and look for the main story – Sunday night’s SoccerAid game.
Given that Sarri could point to the end of season facts with more than a degree of pride, that says a great deal.
Third in the Prem, ahead of Spurs, Arsenal and United, guaranteeing a return to the Champions League.
Europa League winners – Arsenal thrashed in Baku – giving the Italian his first major trophy.
And the final of the Carabao Cup, too.
By any standards, success.
Yet it FELT like failure, pretty much all season after that shuddering loss to Spurs at Wembley in November.
Felt like a club on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown.
Looked like a manager who simply did not want to be there any more.
MAUR THE MERRIER?
And when Juventus came calling, it was hard to know who was happier to see Sarri go – Chelsea or the Italian himself?
Which, in truth, is truly remarkable.
Officially, Sarri is the first Chelsea manager of the Roman Abramovich era to leave entirely on his own terms.
Not sacked. Or leaving “by mutual consent”- a phrase with little grounding in reality.
But quitting to take a job which he would say is bigger than the one he is leaving.
And yet this was a departure which had been on the cards for months.
The souring of the relationship between Sarri and the Chelsea fans was brutal as doubts became issues and boiled over into outright, seething animosity.
Even at the worst of the Rafa Benitez era, a situation which was more about Jose Mourinho’s tangled relationship with the Spaniard and fake quotes attributed to Benitez than anything he actually said, it was never as toxic as “F*** Sarriball!”.It was about personality AND football.
About Sarri’s infatuation with Jorginho and the belief that it meant sacrificing N’Golo Kante’s best virtues.
And about his persistence with other facets which irked.
Regularly playing Eden Hazard as a false nine, when he didn’t want to do it.
Sticking with Marcos Alonso at left back, long after the supporters had tired of seeing the same thing over and again.
Those like for like substitutions, the repeat button pressed so often even members of the board privately joked about it.
And, of course, that clear reluctance, until it became something even Sarri could not longer ignore, to play Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
BOST IN TRANSLATION
The players, too, got sick and tired of repetitive training.
Those early reports of the intensity of the sessions, initially said in praise of the Italian, soon disappeared as the lustre did not last.
Sarri may have recognised, from early on, that his face did not fit.
And he never seemed to settle, moaning – constantly – about the media commitments demanded by Premier League rules.
There were other issues as well. Sarri had understandable reasons for complaining about the timing of the post-season trip to Boston, especially when the new-laid pitch may well have been culpable of Loftus-Cheek’s injury.
But the fight against anti-Semitism is Abramovich’s new project, one the Russian has invested both time and money into seeing bear fruit.
You don’t publicly bad-mouth your boss’ big idea without expecting consequences.
Even so, with Chelsea seeming to have accepted the reality of their Fifa transfer ban, Sarri might have had another season.
If nothing else, there were some at the club happy for him to have been the fall-guy – and it would have given Frank Lampard a further 12 months to learn on his managerial journey.
But once it became clear Juve were willing to pay to take away a manager who was, in reality, no longer wanted, it became a matter of time.
Whether Lampard will prove the right answer is something we will doubtless discover over the next few months and possibly years.
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But Sarri NEVER was, for a variety of reasons.
He leaves unlamented, unloved, unmissed.
For just about everyone, including himself, it seems the best thing all round.