Sarri eyeing Wembley win over foe and fan Guardiola

Chelsea's new era under Maurizio Sarri begins at Wembley with the Italian facing his friend and admirer Pep Guardiola and Manchester City.

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri   -  Getty Images

Maurizio Sarri would like a decade-long stay at Chelsea, but knows he needs to collect silverware – starting with the Community Shield against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.

Sarri was confirmed as Chelsea's sixth Italian boss when he replaced countryman Antonio Conte as head coach at the start of pre-season.

His first outing in English football comes against Pep Guardiola's Premier League champion in the traditional season curtain-raiser.

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The two coaches spoke of their mutual respect for one another when City faced Napoli in two pulsating Champions League encounters last season, and they met for a close-season dinner with celebrated ex-AC Milan and Italy boss Arrigo Sacchi.

Guardiola beamed that Sacchi picked up the tab when discussing the meal at his own pre-match news conference and Sarri reported the Catalan filled him in on the challenges that await in English football.

"Guardiola told me that here in England it is very difficult. The level is very high, so he had some problems in his first season, but he said that football is football everywhere," he said.

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"Sure, I think every coach at the moment wants to work here in England. The Premier League is the best level in the world. So, what can I say? I can say that I am very lucky to be here."

How long he remains in situ depends on how readily he can satisfy Chelsea's thirst for honours – something Conte managed by winning the Premier League in 2016-17 and the FA Cup last term before a tempestuous relationship with the Stamford Bridge hierarchy ran its course.

"I think it is very important to start with a trophy. It is important also to step forward. For me, clearly, it is important to win something," Sarri said.

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"It depends on the club [how long I will stay]. [If] I want to stay here for 10 years, then I have to win. Then, it depends on the club but I want to stay here for a long time."

Sarri believes Guardiola's "capacity to personalise his team" makes him one of the best in the business, while the City manager praised the 59-year-old for instantly imprinting his own high-pressing and attacking style upon Chelsea during their pre-season friendlies – a process no doubt aided by the Blues pipping Guardiola to the signature of Italy midfielder Jorginho.

"It depends on the players," Sarri added when considering whether a Chelsea side he still hopes to add to before next week's transfer deadline can hit the ground running.

"Sometimes it was a very long story, sometimes it was short like in Naples. In Naples we had difficulties for three, four matches, no more."
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