A third-place finish in the Premier League. Victory in the Europa League. Runners-up in the Carabao Cup. It’s hard to argue the 2018/19 season was anything but a success for Chelsea. Yet it wasn’t without its difficulties.
Chelsea were, at times, branded boring and ineffective. Lots of possession, but a lack of cutting edge.
Head coach Maurizio Sarri bore most of the brunt of the criticism from supporters, but not far behind was Jorginho. The midfielder, who arrived from Napoli in the summer of 2018 with Sarri, was seen as the chief-architect of “Sarri-ball” and was even booed when he came on for a Europa League game in February.
Man Utd vs Chelsea
August 11, 2019, 4:00pm
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So tied has Jorginho been to Sarri and his methods over the last few years that, when Sarri left Stamford Bridge this summer, it was asked ‘what now for Jorginho?’. Would he follow Sarri out of the exit door after just one season? Or would he stay for a fresh challenge under Frank Lampard?
The answer is the latter, and the 27-year-old is relishing it.
“It has been a new experience for me. I am liking it as I am learning, which I like to do,” he tells Sky Sports ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League opener against Manchester United on August 11.
“I am happy I got this opportunity; I like to learn and find out more. It’s going to be beneficial to my career and the club and the team. I have an open mind to learning new experiences.”
But was he sad to see Sarri, who he has worked with since 2015, leave this summer?
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“No, I wouldn’t say I was sad. He was my coach and we had worked together for four years but the time had come to go separate ways and I am very thankful to him for giving me the opportunity and everything I learnt from him, but now it is a new page and I have a new coach and I have to work hard and learn a lot. We have to look ahead.”
Compare their CV’s and Sarri and Lampard could hardly be more different. Sarri never played professionally (he used to be a banker – you might have heard), but has managed a host of clubs since 1990. Lampard had a glittering playing career with Chelsea, but is only in his second year of management.
Asked what he sees as the main differences between them, Jorginho first jokes “their age” (Sarri is 60, Lampard is 41), before saying it is also “their tactics”.
Chelsea’s first six fixtures
- Aug 11 – Man Utd (a) – SSPL
- Aug 14 – Liverpool – UEFA Super Cup
- Aug 18 – Leicester (h) – SSPL
- Aug 24 -Norwich (a)
- Aug 31 – Sheffield Utd (h)
- Sep 14 – Wolves (a)
While Sarri stuck with his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation during his single season at Chelsea, Lampard has gone with a 4-2-3-1 in pre-season that has seen Jorginho playing slightly further forward. It’s a new experience for Jorginho, but one he seems to be settling in to quickly. He is also enjoying the opportunity to play under Lampard, who he watched as a youngster.
“His career speaks for itself. Everyone can see what Lampard did as a player, not just for this club but for football in general. I watched him when I was growing up and it’s great to have him here now as a coach. I believe he still has a lot to give to this club as a coach, as he did as a player.
“Of course, we talk about positions and ask questions like all other players, if they have any doubts they ask the coach and I ask about positions and various other aspects of the game which are important to know.
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“I need to understand what he wants from me. So, I also ask to develop my game. The more questions I ask takes any doubt away and we can play the way he wants to play. Then we can give to the team just how he wants us to deliver.”
The early signs suggest Jorginho is going to be just as integral to Lampard’s Chelsea team as he was to Sarri’s side. The new head coach has praised Jorginho’s “attitude” and “bravery” in pre-season and says he is a “driver of a session”.
Jorginho says he does not see himself as “the leader” of the team, but is trying to make the most of the view of the game that his role affords.
“Everyone in the team has to help each other. I think everyone in the team has leadership skills and can be leaders and we need to help each other.
“I have my way of doing things, because I am that way, I try to raise my voice to motivate team-mates and make them aware that if they lose a ball it is not a problem, so I try to motivate my team-mates and to speak to them and, because I see the game from the back I see everything in front of me; communication on the field can help a lot.
“That split second when you give a shout you know it will be beneficial for the team and this helps to motivate the team.”
Whether you view last season as a success or not – Jorginho says it would be “crazy” not to – there are doubts Chelsea can improve on it in 2019/20. Not only have they lost Eden Hazard, but they have been unable to make any signings due to a transfer ban while their rivals look to have improved.
Jorginho, though, still thinks it can be a successful campaign.
“Of course we believe we can always improve because the moment that you think you cannot improve anymore you go backwards. We have to open our minds and believe we can be better and be on the rise.
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“Certainly, I will do what I have always done and give my maximum performance. Fans can expect the same from me – hard work and a lot of work on the pitch to try to bring trophies and silverware that this club deserves.”
And what about his new “advanced” role? Is it going to mean more goals and potentially more assists?