A Brief History of Arrigo Sacchi

A Brief History of Arrigo Sacchi

“I never realised that to be a jockey you
had to be a horse first.” The words of Arrigo Sacchi when he was appointed
as Milan coach in 1987. At the time, he was a relative unknown in
the world of football. Born in 1946 in Fusignano, a community of
7,000 people in the province of Ravenna, Sacchi never really made it as a footballer. The sport had been an obsession from an early
age but, at first, it did not translate onto the pitch. A defender, Sacchi worked hard but could not
progress from amateur level, spending most of his playing career with local club Fusignano. On the side, he worked as a shoe salesman
at his father’s factory. Sacchi did not live the glamorous life of
a professional footballer. At the age of 26, while attempting to prove
himself at another local club, Baracca Lugo, he decided to turn his hand to coaching. To those who knew him, it was not entirely
surprising. Sacchi had been a student of the game from
a young age: as a boy, he regularly watched the great Real Madrid team of the 1950s and
quickly became enamoured. The Netherlands of the 1970s, though, proved
Sacchi’s greatest influence. “It was a mystery to me,” Sacchi said
of Rinus Michels’ team. “The television was too small; I felt like
I needed to see the whole pitch to fully understand what they were doing and to fully appreciate
it.” Sacchi, clearly, had a natural inclination
towards the attacking side of the game. In that sense, he was something of a nonconformist
in the Italian game: the style of play in Italy when Sacchi began his coaching career
was still very much based on the defensive, risk averse football of Nereo Rocco and Helenio
Herrera. At Baracca Lugo, it quickly became apparent
that Sacchi was a precocious coaching talent. From there, he moved on to Bellaria, before
joining Serie B club Cesena in 1979 as a youth coach. It was a job that required his complete dedication. Sacchi had been working for his father’s
company as a director, earning an increasingly lucrative monthly salary. When Cesena came calling, he had to decide
between shoes and football. He chose the latter. It was the beginning of a rapid rise to the
top of the Italian game. Sacchi was appointed by Rimini in Serie C1
and came close to winning the title. That was enough to earn him a move to Fiorentina
in the top flight as a youth coach, before he was handed the reins at Parma. Parma, playing with a ferocious intensity,
impressed Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi. This was something different. And so, in 1987, he appointed Sacchi, ignoring
the scepticism of those who were unconvinced by his track record. Before Sacchi’s arrival, Milan had won just
one Serie A title in twenty years. A talented group of players had underperformed,
and so Sacchi set about motivating them. “I may come from Fusignano, but what have
you won?” he asked his players during his first training session. By the time Sacchi left the club, they had
won a lot: an evasive Serie A title was secured in his first season, and that was followed
by two European Cups. By the time he left, Italian football had
changed. Sacchi always preached the importance of entertainment
above all else. “If you want to go down in history you don’t
just need to win,” he said, “you have to entertain.” Milan did. The trio of Dutchman – Frank Rijkaard, Ruud
Gullit and Marco van Basten – were fluid and often irresistible. And the defence, anchored by Franco Baresi,
was a key foundation of Sacchi’s side. Milan, under Sacchi, were both innovative
and successful. It was vindication for a coach who had been
dismissed by some on the basis of reputation. In his later roles, though, despite his undoubted
tactical intelligence, Sacchi struggled to effectively put across his ideas. He left Milan in 1991 to take charge of the
Italian national team, but he appeared frustrated by the limitations of the international game. Sacchi did guide Italy to the final of the
1994 World Cup, but they were beaten on penalties by Brazil. The Azzurri never truly convinced, and Sacchi
was sacked after elimination in the group stages of Euro 96. He briefly returned to Milan but couldn’t
replicate his previous success. Then came an unsuccessful spell in Spain with
Atletico Madrid and, in 2001, another season at Parma. A stress-related illness soon forced him to
take on a position as director. His coaching career was over. But Sacchi should not be remembered by the
latter stages of his career. Few coaches have made such a significant impact
– as he did with Milan – over such a short period of time. The high defensive line, the pressing game
so omnipresent today – and utilised by a number of the most talented coaches – would
not have taken the form they did without the influence of Arrigo Sacchi.

70 thoughts on “A Brief History of Arrigo Sacchi

  1. Pep Guardiola Tactics: How it changed from Barca to Bayern to City. Please make it at least one hour long video, and I guarantee it will get 1 million views on the first day.

  2. The man who abolished the 'Sweeper/Libero' in football and made the back 4 mainstream. Innovator and definitely a Renaissance man of football

  3. Well done video. Ha never knew this. How weird. Thanks tifo. Keep up the good work.
    Since im African I would love to see a video on the football is this continent and pioneers of the continent in a football sense.

  4. As an American you help me learn so much about the game of Football and all the tactics and history behind it. I love your channel. I ask if you can do one on sporting Kansas City. How a small market team can be one of the top of the mls year in and year out. Great work once again Tifo!.

  5. A brilliant coach who's now hating on modern football because "they all took a piece of my philosophy and they turned it into something that's not the game I loved, not anymore", it's so sad to see him so salty and entitled

  6. What Sacchi faced during his spell in international management would be similar to what Arsene Wenger would face if he opted to dip his football into the international game.

  7. I feel We should remember all of His career, The Good and The Mediocre. But it is for his first stint at Milan that he should be revered – Every Dog has its day and Sacchi hounded his opponents when it was his. Arrividerci!

  8. Awesome content! I always love to watch tifo history and tactics among others; speaking of which, could you please do a video about "zona mista" and its origins, thanks very much!

  9. The game he implemented at Milan is The reason why I became truly interested in this sport in the first place and why I fell in love with the rossoneri.
    Great video, guys (as always it seems)!

  10. Another video to the visual book of Inverting the Pyramid. At this rate you'll be the number 1 compliment to that book. I love your content guys, keep it up. You're forcing every other piece of content creation in the sport to level up to your level.

  11. Almost everything Jurgen Klopp does in football is based on Arrigo Sacchi. Philosophy, coaching, man-management and tactics are all the same.

  12. A renowned offensive coach, however, the defence he built at Milan was undoubtedly the best defence of all time. The defence of (most prominently) Baresi, Maldini and Costacurta dominated Italy (and Europe), and they went on an almost two year undefeated spell from 91-93. The season after Sacchi left they went on to win the league undefeated, and in the '93/94 season they conceded only 15 goals in 34 games in the league. However, most of this was achieved under the tutelage of Fabio Capello.

  13. Could you do a video explaining why Americans aren’t as successful in Europe, especially managerially? Confuses me that American players can be successful but the only American coach who was well known in Europe was bob Bradley during his poor time at Swansea.

  14. Nice video. Can you make a video on Arrigo Sacchi's Tactics?! Because recently Maurizio Sarri told in an interview "There are 2 phases of football. Football before Sacchi and Football after Sacchi".

  15. He's the best Italian manager of all time 👏
    None of Italian manager can grew his team in to the dream team like him with Milan 👏😂

  16. I read some interesting stuff in 'jonathan wilson inverting the pyramid' book about Sacchi, such as he popularized the idea of lateral pressing and also held (attack vs defense) training games where his Milan back 4 + goalkeeper would play against the other six players in the team and regularly be able to keep them scoreless for long periods!

  17. Sacchi was actually sacked a few games after Euro 96, not straight after the group stage.

    Sacchi gets praised for his achievements at Milan but he underachieved with Italy. Roberto Baggio carried the Azzurri to the 1994 World Cup Final and flopped at Euro 96 without him. Sacchi made some odd tactical experiments too and had players out of position, especially Beppe Signori.

    Although he was influenced by Dutch football, his Italy side was more British than Dutch. Used the 4-4-2, picked a lot of hard workers, and did not have a lot of technicians. He also showed favouritism towards Milan (merited) and Parma (not so much) players.

  18. His tactics inspired Wolfgang Frank who inspired European Cup winning manager Jürgen Klopp. So from Sacchi to Klopp, what goes around well and truly does come around.

  19. Should do trappatoni too
    There was a time that trappatoni inter compete with sachi milan, napoli maradona for scudetto

  20. Is liverpool today equivalent with Milan in late 80s under Arigo sacchi?
    Similarities :
    Milan has trio dutch, zone pressing, excellent defending from Maldini – Baresi, and goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi, attacking football

    Liverpool has Salah, Mane, Firmino, gegenpressing, excellent defending service from Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Allison, attacking football

  21. the best teams I have ever seen play are:
    Cruyff's Barca
    Sacchi's Milan
    Luis Aragonés's Spain (Later followed by Vicente del Bosque)
    Jupp Heynckes Bayern Munich
    Ancelotti's Milan.
    Rijkaard's Barca.

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