COMMENT: After the bitter disappointment of the farewell of Simone Inzaghi, who's move to Inter Milan left a painful wound for all Lazio fans, a big name was needed to overcome such sadness.
Claudio Lotito had to scan the market and hire a coach capable of making the Lazio fans fall in love again, capable of representing them as Inzaghi did for an extended period of time - a former player to whom Lazio fans are particularly attached. The right name was that of Maurizio Sarri, former coach of Napoli, Juventus and Chelsea, who was approached by Friedkin's Roma before signing José Mourinho.
A blessed choice, welcomed with enthusiasm by all the Biancocelesti fans, who in a short time managed to put aside the memory of Inzaghi's "betrayal".
Outspoken, sincere, sometimes too much, a lover of beautiful football and, above all, a great coaching master. Sarri's impact on Lazio has been impressive: the team in its first season immediately showed enormous signs of growth from the point of view of the playing style, high pressing and fast and vertical passes, the explosion at high levels of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Mattia Zaccagni's improvements and above all the ability to convince Lotito to invest millions in the market to strengthen the team, from Nicolo Casale to Marcos Antonio - clear examples of the club's growth plan.
The first year brought the team the Europa League, even if this year there was relegation to the Conference League, but the standings don't lie and it's clear: there has been a huge growth, the team is now in the Champions League zone in the standings and that's the goal for the season. Although there's still room to do better and Sarri knows that.
The greatest challenges for a Lazio coach are to represent the fans and to coexist with Lotito, the owner and president of the club, a figure who divides all and who above all forces many managers and coaches to try to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Sarri made things clear right away and received considerable support from the president, another reason why the fans respect him so much. As for the support, even without making particularly cheesy statements, Sarri managed to reach the hearts of the fans. "Sarrismo" has taken hold among the Biancocelesti, happy to see a courageous team, good at playing an attacking football, which scores many goals and has imposed its identity on pitches across Serie A. The Tuscan coach has represented and is representing for Lazio the wind of hope, that breath of life that leads an entire fanbase to believe in a different future, made up of successes, in which there is no risk of disappointment if one hopes for gradual growth towards future victories.
Last summer, in August, Sarri sent sweet words to his fans, but always frank and sincere: "I like Lazio's people, from the outside I had a completely different, wrong idea". He didn't hide and said that in the past he thought different things, while now the love of his fans has made him think again.
The first to believe in him, even before the Lazio fans and that says it all, are his players. The spark has struck with many Biancocelesti protagonists, from the top player of the group Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to the leader of the team Ciro Immobile, who this season is starting to come to terms with the passing years and with the natural injuries that are starting to increase.
Ciro's first season under Sarri was studded with goals and important plays, despite the fact that before arriving at Lazio many had expressed doubts about his coexistence with his new coach, due to very different characteristics. Instead, things immediately went great. Other players who are getting along wonderfully with Sarri are Adam Marusic, the central couple Alessio Romagnoli and Casale, with the former who is expressing himself at high levels of which he hasn't for some time, but above all Felipe Anderson and Zaccagni.
Immobile's problems forced Sarri to play with the false 9, with the Brazilian at the centre of the attack, also giving space to Pedro, who's playing at a very good level, almost better than when Immobile was there. Quick plays and passes, lots of movement and unpredictability, something difficult to defend against: Anderson has scored several important goals, Zaccagni is having the best season of his life and it can only be thanks to a coach capable of exploiting the offensive potential of his players like few others in the world.
He also demonstrated this at Napoli and in his previous experiences, but the only thing that interests the Lazio players now is that this "perfect" machine continues to score important points and results, in Europe and in the league, such as the bombastic one against Milan - the best performance of the season from Milinkovic-Savic and his teammates.
The tablenow says fourth place, but there is everything to play for and there is a lot of time before the end of the season. And it is thanks to Sarri, “il comandante" (as his tifosi call him), who has rekindled the heart of Lazio and his people.