Ross Barkley’s new role & Jorginho’s impact – Behind the scenes at Sarri’s pre-season training


New Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has wasted no time stamping his authority on first team training as the players were put through their paces at Perth’s WACA ground on Saturday night.

The recently appointed Italian kept a keen watch over the 75-minute open training session and had no hesitations about stepping in to issue instructions to his players when necessary.

Thousands of football fans, from Perth and beyond, braved the at times torrential rain to watch their heroes work under the guidance of Sarri and his backroom team, which now includes Gianfranco Zola.

The session began with a light jog around the oval and some warm up drills before the players split into two groups for a rondo while the goalkeepers did their own drills with Carlo Cudicini.

There was a noticeable old/young divide, and the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, David Luiz, Marcos Alonso, Alvaro Morato and new signing Jorginho formed the more experienced circle.

The mood was light hearted, with Tammy Abraham in particular the subject of some friendly mocking when he was in the middle.

The goals were brought close together for a half pitch game, with one side looking a lot stronger than the other as Davide Zappacosta, Ethan Ampadu, David Luiz and Emerson Palmieri formed a back four. Jorginho and Ross Barkley anchored the side’s midfield, with Morata leading the line.

The heavens opened at half time as Sarri called the players together to issue some more instructions, before a second period of less than ten minutes got underway.

It was after this game that we really got to see Sarri in action as he set the players up in a drill that focused on playing from midfield to the frontline in a series of one touch passes before a finish was applied.

While one side attacked with the ball, the other stood like statues to mimic a possible game situation. The passing was slick on the greasy surface, though the finishing at times left a lot to be desired.

The purpose of the drill was to work on the attacking shape and a quick transition into the final third once a whistle was blown. There was also a clear emphasis on getting the ball wide when possible, with most of the crosses driven low across the ground.

At one point, Sarri gave Barkley a good minute of one-on-one time in the middle of the ground as he tried to get the midfielder on the same wavelength. Barkley has still to prove himself at Stamford Bridge since joining from Everton and listened closely before getting back involved.

At Napoli, Sarri was renowned for his exciting attacking play and he has already spoken about bringing the fun times back to Chelsea.

“Ours is not a sport but a game,” he said at his unveiling last week.

“Anybody who plays a game started doing it as a child for fun and the child in us must be nurtured because this often makes us the best. To create play that is fun is the first thing to obtain a style for a high-level squad.”

The exhibition of quick one touch attacking play, albeit in a no pressure environment, was a good early indication of what fans can expect to see once the Italian’s style has been embedded in the squad.

The session finished up with a focus on defending free kicks taken from out wide on the left wing, with eight players stationed on the 18-yard line as a ball was played into the danger zone. There were no attackers involved; instead the defensive unit was expected to work in tandem as one line before clearing the ball.

With training at an end, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Marcos Alonso and David Luiz all hung around to sign hundreds of autographs. However, the biggest drawcard was Gianfranco Zola who was still posing for photographs and inking shirts half an hour later.

Alvaro Morata and Ross Barkley got involved in some shooting practice, and they were eventually joined by Alonso and Pedro.

The Blues are training twice at day at the WACA ahead of Monday night’s game against A-League side Perth Glory at Optus Stadium.