Zola served as assistant manager under Sarri during the current Juventus boss’ sole season in charge at Stamford Bridge, in what was a campaign of mixed success. Chelsea won the Europa League and finished third in the Premier League, but Sarri struggled to get the best out of key players like N’Golo Kante, and the season ended on a low note when Eden Hazard left for Real Madrid.
Now, Zola – who left his post when Frank Lampard was appointed as Sarri’s successor last summer – has revealed that the manager’s methods in training had a negative impact on Hazard and fellow winger Willian, among others. “
They were talented players, like Hazard and Willian, players who know how to win games on their own, but they were suffering from the type of exercises and type of training we were doing – but it was necessary for the others,” Zola told beIN Sports. “I’ll be honest, they were brilliant because they got bored, but they kept doing it throughout and that was the reason why, when everyone was dropping, we were going up towards the end.
At the beginning, the players were very much behind everything that we were saying, they were brilliant. They were following everything, but then as the weeks passed due to the repetition and the number of games they were playing, the players got tired and they also got bored in awa
But boring is part of our job. Sometimes you need to get bored, but when you get bored you persist in what you’re doing and you get better.
I remember that when I was learning to play football, kicking a ball, for example, I used to do it 300-400 times a day at least. “There were moments when I got tired but I needed to do it repeatedly because if I wanted it to become a part of me, this was the process I needed to go through.” Upon leaving Chelsea last summer, Sarri admitted that Hazard had “caused issues” with the system he intended to use. He said at his unveiling with Juventus:
In recent years, I’ve had 4-3-3, but the 4-3-3 at Chelsea was very different to the one at Napoli. We had to accompany Eden Hazard’s characteristics, as he could change the game, but also his presence caused issues in defending that we had to work on.”