Football

Gianfranco Zola: Maurizio Sarri's best work comes after first year

Former Chelsea striker Gianfranco Zola believes the London club got rid of Maurizio Sarri too soon and said they would have benefited if the Italian manager had been given more time.

Sarri departed for Juventus after one season at Stamford Bridge in which he guided Chelsea to the Europa League title and third place in the English Premier League.

The 60-year-old was replaced last week by former Chelsea midfielder and record goalscorer Frank Lampard.

"The best of Maurizio's work comes not in the first year, but more from the second year onwards," Zola, who was Sarri's assistant, told talkSPORT.

"Looking at the way he works, it takes a little bit of time to put in place what he wants to do, and also he is very demanding on the players.

"But, after the players get used to it, they get better and better and the work becomes more effective.

"It's a pity, because it would have been good for the club if Maurizio stayed and it would have been good for Maurizio as well."

Zola, 53, also left the club he played for with distinction following Sarri's departure.

Former Chelsea midfielder Jody Morris and Chris Jones, who both worked alongside Lampard at Derby County, have come on board.

The Telegraph reported that Carlo Cudicini will also not be part of Lampard's set-up.

On leaving Stamford Bridge, Zola said: "Obviously, it's painful because you're in a place where you like to be and it means a lot to you.

"Of course, it's always painful, but we have to be professional and Chelsea are looking forward.

"They made other choices and I respect them, I have no problem with that."

Zola said he would be looking for another job in English football and was grateful to both Chelsea and Sarri for an "amazing learning experience".

Before his stint as assistant manager at Chelsea, Zola's coaching career had seen him manage West Ham United, Watford and Italian side Cagliari.

He joined Birmingham City in December 2016, but quit four months later after a poor run of results. - REUTERS

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