Juventus fans were displeased by Maurizio Sarri saying he would rather lose to Napoli than anyone else, but he has defended his remarks.
Maurizio Sarri insists his comments suggesting he would prefer to lose to Napoli than anyone else were “twisted” as Juventus fans reacted in anger.
Sarri responds to Napoli comments
Juve were beaten for just the second time in Serie A this season when Sarri took the defending champions to his old club Napoli, where he spent three years as head coach before leaving for Chelsea in 2018.
Sarri said he was happy for his old team to get three points given they are languishing in 10th place in the table.
Juve supporters were far from pleased with the remarks, but Sarri believes too much has been made of what he considers to be fair comments about a team who helped him to reach “the biggest club in Italy”.
“I don’t know much about any controversies. It seems strange to me that certain phrases were twisted,” he told reporters on Saturday ahead of the league meeting with Fiorentina.
“It seems natural to me that I remain tied to those boys I worked with for three years and who allowed me to get to top clubs like Chelsea and Juventus. There’s gratitude because that’s where my journey started that led to the biggest club in Italy – Juventus.
“Juve fans were rightly angry because we played badly and we lost.”
Juve signed Dejan Kulusevski during the January transfer window but sent him on loan to Parma for the rest of the season, meaning Sarri has no reinforcements for the remainder of 2019-20.
The squad was trimmed further as Mario Mandzukic left for Al Duhail, with Marko Pjaca and Mattia Perin loaned out and Emre Can sent to Borussia Dortmund on an initial loan with an obligation to buy.
Can had been furious to be left out of Juve’s bloated Champions League squad and started just twice in Serie A under Sarri, who considers it normal for good players to find game time difficult at top clubs.
“These are normal situations,” he said. “I had a group of 27 players: if among them there are one or two who have difficulty getting into the team, that’s normal. It doesn’t take away from his qualities.
“I didn’t ask for anything in the summer or in January. The squad is strong. I have to adapt to the characteristics of the squad. I can’t think of revolutionising a whole group of players.”