Maurizio Sarri has rejected suggestions he can be compared to “sacred monster” Pep Guardiola, who the Napoli coach rates as the best in the world.
Serie A leaders Napoli host unbeaten Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday, seeking revenge for a 2-1 loss at the Etihad Stadium on matchday three.
While 10 wins out of 11 games in Serie A this season has led to Sarri being hailed by fans and the media, the Napoli coach is unwilling to be measured against City boss Guardiola, a two-time Champions League winner.
“I cannot compare to him, a sacred monster and the best coach in the world right now,” Sarri told reporters on Tuesday.
“I like his football philosophy, the idea that his teams always go out with the ball, some movements are [on]the brink of genius and the way City win the ball back in a clean way.
“We are talking about one of those coaches who, when they leave the sport, will have changed the way we see football.”
Sarri has also been compared to Italian great Arrigo Sacchi by Napoli’s Scudetto-winning coach Alberto Bigon, an idea the 58-year-old gave short shrift too.
“It’s an insult to Arrigo, who changed football and improved all the big players he had,” Sarri said. “From [Marco] van Basten to [Franco] Baresi, everyone got better with him.
“Anyway, if I stop doing this job now I will not be remembered by anyone – because I have won nothing.”
Like Napoli, City have won all but one of their league games so far this season to sit clear at the top of their domestic table.
But Sarri is still confident his side can boost their chances of qualifying for the next phase of the Champions League by earning a positive result at the San Paolo.
“In football I do not consider anyone unbeatable, all the teams can be beaten in one way or another,” Sarri said. “The fact remains that Manchester City are currently the strongest team in Europe, trained by the best trainer in Europe.
“What do I want to see tomorrow? I would like to see the fear in the eyes of Manchester City players. It would be a good sign for the team and it would mean that we are doing well.”