Italians have always been a vocal bunch. None more so than the club owners and presidents. This past week we were treated to some high quality rants from the top men in Italian football.
Saturday night saw Roma defeat a hapless Palermo 4-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Coach Delio Rossi, who had been instrumental in leading the Sicilians’ charge up the table, was blasted by club owner, Maurizio Zamparini, who said: “It is an insult to football that (Javier) Pastore was not in the starting eleven.” Zamparini continued berating his coach further: “I consider that a lack of courage from my Coach.” Continuing, he opted to give some tactical advice to the man who led Lazio to the Champions League. “From now on I want to see Pastore and (Abel) Hernandez always on the pitch,” he said. And if that wasn’t enough, Zampa weighed in on his players as well: “Cesare Bovo was unjustifiable, his mistakes made him look like a circus clown”. While such declarations by an owner may appear shocking they are pretty much the norm in the Serie A. Publicly criticising the team and its coach is something Italian club owners take pleasure in. It is no surprise that coaches have such a torrid time keeping hold of their jobs. Zamparini is a one-man firing squad – in charge at Venezia, and now Palermo, he has sacked more than 25 coaches. Francesco Guidolin, currently coaching Parma, is Zamp’s favourite punching bag having dismissed him on four different occasions.
On Sunday, Genoa slipped to a narrow 2-3 defeat to Juventus, who were awarded a controversial penalty late in the game. A visibly upset Enrico Preziosi, president of Genoa, insinuated that iconic players used their status to get special treatment from referees. “Loyalty is long gone in football,” he said. “Del Piero is a champion like Totti, but sometimes champions use it to their own benefit.” Jumping into the debate, Roma president Rosella Sensi said yesterday: “I can’t let anyone speak badly of Roma captain Francesco Totti.” Ironically, she too has seldom been too shy to make her opinions known.
Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis added to the owners’ ever-falling credibility after the Inter game. “Jose Mourinho is the last Coach I would want at my club,” he said. “I wouldn’t change Mazzarri for Mourinho even if he is free. I would have fun using Mourinho as an actor in one of my films though.” Ever since the Portuguese coach arrived in the peninsula, his outspokenness has not gone down well with most of the owners. This attack by Laurentiis is only the latest in a string of tirades directed his way.
A situation like in England where many owners won’t even know their line-ups is not ideal, but personal attacks on players and opposing managers are uncalled for. It lowers the perception of the league and takes attention off the field. More than anything, it makes all parties involved look foolish. Massimo Moratti is a prime example. In recent years, with his team’s success, he has learnt to keep his thoughts to himself. And that is probably the best option – Let the teams do the talking.