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If Juventus won Serie A with me, they must be good – Sarri celebrates first league title

By Sacha Pisani
Maurizio Sarri joked that Juventus must be really good if they claimed the Scudetto under the first-time Serie A-winning head coach

Milan, July 27: Maurizio Sarri joked that Juventus must be really good if they claimed the Scudetto under the first-time Serie A-winning head coach as the champions maintained their stranglehold on Italian football.

Juve defeated Sampdoria 2-0 thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi on Sunday to clinch their ninth successive Serie A crown, a record run dating back to 2011-12.

Sarri – who replaced Massimiliano Allegri at the start of the season – became the oldest coach to win Serie A as the 61-year-old claimed his maiden league trophy, having only previously led Chelsea to Europa League glory last term.

Following a difficult first season in Turin, where his philosophy has been regularly questioned, former Chelsea and Napoli boss Sarri revelled in his achievement.

"I told them, if you won with me who has never won anything, you must be really good," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia when asked what he said to his players during the celebrations.

"The first day you come in, you see people, not just world-class players. As time passes, you get fond of them and the rapport goes from being strictly professional to personal too.

"The first day, I step into the locker room and know there are some top players. After a while, you walk in there knowing there are some great guys you can rely on too."

"It has a special feeling, of course. It's difficult to win, it becomes even more complicated to keep winning, as taking something for granted in sport is one of the biggest lies in the world," Sarri said.

"It was not a walk in the park. It was long, difficult, stressful, and this squad deserves a lot of credit for continuing to find the hunger and determination to keep going after eight wins in a row.

"I left the field because I was trying to avoid getting a bucket of water thrown over me, as it was obviously on its way, but I didn't manage to get away."

It has not been easy for Sarri and Juventus during their first season together at Allianz Stadium amid reports of unrest following Allegri's departure.

Sarri's future has dominated headlines – speculation intensifying after Juve failed to wrap up the Scudetto on Thursday following a shock 2-1 defeat to Udinese.

Juve also trail Lyon 1-0 as they prepare for next month's return leg of the Champions League last-16 tie following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Sarri added: "There were tactical difficulties, trying to get all these very strong players and their various characteristics to work together. That was not something to be taken for granted, as we saw in previous years, because [Paulo] Dybala and Ronaldo didn't really start together very often.

"They are world class, but it's not easy to get them to work together with their characteristics. With a lot of work, I think we managed it."

"Ronaldo and Dybala make the difference on the field, so clearly they deserve a lot of credit, but the club behind them is every bit as important," he continued. "We have a president and directors who attend training every day, are there to exchange ideas, see if you need anything and put petrol in the tank of this team. The club are a big part of why they were able to win for so many years. They back you even when you lose.

“In terms of organisation, Juventus are at the top of European football. I could not have asked for anything more. Obviously, it takes a while to settle in, understand the approach, the way things work here, then after a while you can start trying to tweak a few things.

"You can't just walk straight into a club that has won for eight years in a row and immediately try to order changes. That wouldn't be very intelligent."

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Story first published: Monday, July 27, 2020, 5:00 [IST]
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