Following on from our recent article regarding the bizarre situation that is the mass changing of managers in the Bundesliga, Italy’s top division has experienced something of a similar nature. From Serie A champions Inter undergoing a calamitous shift of control to a legend of the game departing the Eternal city, there has been a lot of drama and this is even before the Euros have been and gone. Read all about it here…
There is no better place to start in the Serie A than in Milan with Inter, whose recent headlines have raised a lot of eyebrows. Antonio Conte thwarted a former employer of his in Juventus as he led the Nerazzurri to a long overdue league title. Inter beat Juve, Atalanta, Milan and all the other challengers in at least one of the two fixtures as well as, more often than not, putting the lesser sides to the sword. When the season drew to a close though, the former Chelsea boss was faced with a dilemma that caught the footballing world by surprise. The powers that be (according to the rumours) ordered that Conte would have to reduce the wage bill by 25% as well as acquiring upwards of eighty million euros in player sales- effectively meaning that one of Romelu Lukaku or Lautaro Martinez would be out the door. Conte kept his pride over a job and walked away, leaving this insatiable task to another manager, the man in question being Lazio legend Simone Inzaghi.
Inzaghi made the bulk of his Serie A appearances for the Roman side and his first foray into management was a five-year stint at their helm, leaving that role to take on this tantalising opportunity. Lazio have been a constant top four challenger since Inzaghi arrived despite the shoestring budget as well as being a thorn in the side of their rivals Roma, finishing above them in the last two seasons now. Although they were better off than Paulo Fonseca’s Roma in the table this time around, the two will be playing in the Europa League and inaugural conference league respectively. With the likes of Ciro Immobile, Milinkovic-Savic as well as former Liverpool duo Luis Alberto and Lucas Leiva, Lazio boast a solid spine albeit ageing, two of the four being the wrong side of thirty with Alberto getting there too. The paper-talk swirling points towards a Serie A return for Maurizio Sarri in Inzaghi’s place but at the time of writing, no replacement has been confirmed.
Remaining in the Eternal city and whilst Inzaghi’s departure is definitely newsworthy, it isn’t comparable to that of the man who is stepping into Fonseca’s shoes. Jose Mourinho, a two-time Serie A champion and a Champions League winner also during his time with Inter is returning to the league in search of further silverware and success. Jose’s recent jobs have ended in quite a sour manner, he won trophies at Manchester United but finished on a low note and then the problems with Spurs seem to go beyond the man in the technical area currently. Getting out of the toxic spotlight that is the Premier League could be huge for Jose in terms of revitalising not only himself but his career also, that being said the Serie A is hardly a walk in the park either though. One can’t forget he’s hardly inheriting a squad that is capable of challenging for the Scudetto; three of their main goalscorers being a former Premier League trio of Edin Dzeko (35), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (32) and Pedro (33) who don’t have age on their side!
Next, to the dominant Juventus who fell far from their perch last time out. Whereas they would normally have the title wrapped up several weeks in advance of the final day under the likes of Allegri and Conte, they only secured Champions League football by getting fortunate in their last game. This along with a poor UCL campaign can’t be fully atoned for by their Coppa Italia success and this has seen the end of club legend Andrea Pirlo as manager. It was a brief and disappointing spell at the helm for the World Cup winner and that along with Andrea Agnelli plunging the club into hot water via the European Super League made for a putrid year, the aforementioned Chairman turning to former coach Massimiliano Allegri for a way out. The Bianconeri won the title in all five of Allegri’s previous seasons as well as getting to two UCL finals, becoming the first ever Serie A manager to win four consecutive league and cup doubles. With all the changes that are going on it’ll be fascinating to see if the division goes straight back towards Juve’s monopolistic power.
In regards to Pirlo and there is no indication yet to suggest he will be a manager at the start of the 2021/22 season, the same can’t be said for another Serie A icon who has been shown the door. Napoli played exciting football in the main this year but that was seemingly more due to the presence of Lorenzo Insigne, Chucky Lozano and co as opposed to the managerial nous of Gattuso. He was in charge for two years after a similar spell with Milan and it was his side’s slip-up that allowed Juve to capture top four. One player from that 2006 Italy World Cup winning squad helping out another in actual fact. The failure to finish in the Champions League spots proved detrimental for Gattuso and he has thus been relieved of his duties in Naples, a Serie A veteran being his replacement. Luciano Spalletti managed the likes of Sampdoria, Roma and Inter and has taken on another challenge, he adopts a squad that besides maybe slight defensive frailties, can be utilised to great effect by such a tactician I believe.
Sticking with Gattuso then and as previously mentioned, he remains in the Serie A managerial sphere as he takes the reins at Fiorentina. The last three managers have had multiple, albeit brief, stints in charge of La Viola so this is clearly a shift into a very different direction. The likes of Vincenzo Montella and Giuseppe Iachini have a lot of managerial experience under their belt whereas Gattuso obviously brings to the table the fact that he was an elite player, his scary exterior has been maintained with his time on the touchlines. Fiorentina have sold the likes of Mo Salah and Federico Chiesa for big fees and their current star is Dusan Vlahovic, a young Serbian forward who may soon be on the move as a result of his potency in front of goal. Will Gattuso be able to continue to get the best out of Vlahovic?
Of the big sides in Serie A, it seems Pioli at Milan and Gasperini at Atalanta will be the only two managers that continue into the new season. There will be some familiar faces back in the mix, your Allegris and your Spallettis and of course Jose too, whilst a couple of big names on the playing side, Gattuso and Pirlo most notably, have been sacked. What a season this promises to be!