FourFourTwo’s 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2016: 25-21
25. Maurizio Sarri (Napoli)
Napoli’s Serie A title challenge may have faded away in the final third of 2015/16, but Sarri still exceeded expectations in his first season in charge at the Stadio San Paolo.
The Partenopei registered their highest ever points total as they secured a return to the Champions League by finishing second, with the 57-year-old taking the southerners closer to top spot than Rafael Benitez had managed during his two years at the helm.
Sarri? He convinced me with his sincerity. It took five minutes for him to convince me to stay, and he got the best out of me
Sarri is not a manager who was always destined to reach the top: the former banker never played the game professionally and didn’t quit his day job until a decade after taking up coaching.
He worked his way up the Italian pyramid, bossing minnows Tegoleto, Sansovino and Sangiovannese in the lower leagues before moving to Serie B side Perugia in 2005. It was his impressive work during a three-year stint at Empoli that persuaded Napoli to appoint Sarri last summer, though, a move which has paid off handsomely despite the initial reservations of many of the club’s supporters – including a certain Diego Maradona.
Sarri succeeded in getting the best out of a number of key players last term, with Elseid Hysaj, Lorenzo Insigne, Kalidou Koulibaly, Allan, Jorginho and Gonzalo Higuain – who netted 36 goals in 35 top-flight appearances – all improving under his guidance and enjoying his presence. A first Scudetto since 1990 will be the target for Sarri and Napoli in 2016/17. GL