Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has insisted last season was a success under Maurizio Sarri, despite the criticism he received.
Sarri arrived at Stamford Bridge from Napoli in 2018, with many excited about the style of football he could bring to the Blues.
His time at the club started well before things turned sour in the middle of the campaign, with players and fans alike soon growing tired of the Italian.
However, his year at the club still ended in success when his side, inspired by Eden Hazard, beat rivals Arsenal in the Europa League final.
And Zola, who was assistant manager under Sarri, says that despite criticism and belief it was a poor campaign, they were ‘satisfied’ with how it went.
“When you are a coach or assistant in a team like Chelsea, it is never easy even when you win matches,” he told Win Sports.
“The demands and expectations of such a team are very great.
“Last year, at the end, it was a great season because we did something important, but there were also hard moments that I can’t count and that proved a lot for everyone, but especially the coach and the second in command.
“It was a very long season, but in the end, we were very satisfied because we overcame the difficult moments and got a good result.”
Sarri’s time in England was brought to a swift end last summer, with him returning to Italy to manage Juventus and Chelsea bringing in Frank Lampard.
The Blues legend has proved a big hit at the club thus far, impressing in a difficult campaign that started with Chelsea unable to make signings.
His most significant success so far has been the way he’s introduced Chelsea’s youth products into the first-team squad, something that Zola has been impressed by.
“Of course, this season has been very particular because the club has not been able to spend money.
“They have decided to use young people, giving them experience and confidence.
“If you have that context in mind, they have done well, they are fourth in the Premier League, and there are many youth players with opportunities.
“So considering that and that they have not been able to sign players, they have had a good season.
“Obviously they have a lot to improve, and they must fight but if they finish among the best 4 in the Premier League.”
Managerial change is nothing new at Chelsea, with consistency in the coaching position having been hard to come by under Roman Abramovich’s reign.
This year marks the Russian’s 17th year of owning the club after his takeover in 2003, a moment that changed English football history.
Like managers, success has been plentiful during his ownership and Zola believes that is something he deserves credit for.
“How can we not talk about Abramovich in Chelsea and say that it has been good!” he added.
“The club has become a winning club in England and Europe. He is certainly involved in the success of the team.
“If you ask me about him, all I can say is that he has done important things and that he has certainly been good.
“Here are many people who will tell you that it is not good that so much money is invested in soccer, but this is another story, and we needed to open another chapter.”