They couldn’t agree every time and this week’s discussion has truly divided Football Italiano’s writers as they debate Who is the best Coach currently working in Serie A?
Chris Sloley: Narrowly pipping Cesare Prandelli and Edy Reja in my eyes is Gian Piero Gasperini.
Having been the man to engineer the return to the top flight for Genoa, his one big money signature – Diego Milito – has proved an all round success and Gasperini has turned the Genovese from also-rans to surprise contenders for the coveted fourth spot. His shrewd working of the loan market has also been of rich reward, with Domenico Criscito and Ruben Olivera from Juve and Bosko Jankovic from Palermo, while he has bolstered the squad with seasoned pros such as Thiago Motta and Matteo Ferrari providing Genoa with a solid foundation. Most importantly, Gasperini has got this mixture of young loanees and aged performers playing together and made it so there is only one team to talk about at the Luigi Ferraris this season. Prandelli has done well but his outlay of over €40m in the summer should be reaping rewards. And yes, a big money gamble on Gilardino has worked and the high price tag attached to Vargas looks good business but he has had the resources to work with.
Mark Jones: You may expect me to go for Jose Mourinho, but I’m going to go for a man tipped to follow in his footsteps at Chelsea, Milan’s Carlo Ancelotti.
Continually motivating an ageing side who, between them, have won everything that world football has to offer is no easy task, and he has now entered his eighth successive year as a Coach of one the biggest clubs in the world which is no mean feat. Sure, coaching a side containing the attacking talents of Kaka, Pato, Seedorf, Beckham, Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Inzaghi etc. is sure to be easier than attempting to coax a side of strugglers from the foot of the table, but with two Champions League titles in the bag, and a third only lost in the most astonishing second half of football ever seen, the quality of the man in undeniable.
Paolo Cabrelli: Luciano Spalletti. At times, Roma play the most dazzling football in Europe.
In the last few seasons, his remarkable 4-6 formation has been a revelation. If employed by Manchester United or Liverpool, the managers would be hailed as visionaries. On top of that, Spalletti has convinced his team they can play both with and without Totti, which is no mean achievement. His recent acquisitions (Baptista, Riise, Brighi) have been right-on-the-money, in every sense. Italy’s answer to Arsene Wenger.
Puds: That is an interesting question that can be looked at from many different angles. Does it relate to just this season or are we talking over a period of time?
Are we talking about a Coach’s legacy in Italy or through out their career in football? It is important to distinguish each because I would pick a different Coach for each. For example Mourinho is a great manager but I could never single him out for the current Coach of the season less than a year at being at Inter. In the same way Ancelotti has had great success at Milan and is leaving a fantastic legacy, but by his high standards this season is a bit average. He has a track record in Italy that other Tacticians do not have. So I will give you more than one answer. My Coach of the season so far would be the man that has guided Genoa to exceed everyone’s expectations, Gian Piero Gasperini. With him at the helm a top 4 finish is a real possibility next season and may even come along sooner. As for the Serie A’s best Coach for the trophy’s Ancelotti has won I would have to give it to him, however I still believe “the Special One” is the best Coach in Italy right now and has the potential to eclipse Ancelotti’s record, should he remain at Inter.
Rich Oldale: The master Tactician in Serie A is without doubt Jose Mourinho. Love him or loathe him, nobody can dispute the Inter Coach knows how to win football matches.
In his first 25 games of Italian football he has notched 18 wins and five draws and only defeated on two occasions. The former Porto and Chelsea boss has picked up silverware for every club he has managed and with a nine point lead at the top of Serie A looks set to achieve more Championship glory with Nerazzurri. His teams may not always have the flair and panache of other sides, but football is a results business and the Special One knows how to get the best out of his players.
Ross Howard: It is difficult to ignore the trophies and titles of Ancelotti and Mourinho, but Cesare Prandelli is my pick as the best in Italy’s top flight.
My choice is in part recognition of what he has achieved already, but also for what he will in the future. Within two years, he took Verona from Serie B to a ninth place finish in Serie A. Then at Parma, as the club’s extinction was a genuine possibility, he delivered two successive top five finishes. Now at Fiorentina, he has transformed relegation strugglers into Serie A’s fourth best team. I could be the president of any of the twenty teams in Italy’s top division, with any of the respective resources, and trust that Prandelli would realize the potential in each. Surely his next job will be in Milan or Turin. Then watch.
Mike Carre: When Cesare Prandelli took over at Fiorentina in 2005, la Viola was struggling in the lower depths of Italy’s top league – now look at them.
He guided i Gigliati to a stunning fourth place finish in his first season although ultimately having their Champions League spot stripped from them as a result of the infamous Calciopoli scandal. Even with the enforced 15-point penalty he still lead his side to sixth place the following season and back into Europe. Last season they beat Milan to the coveted 4th spot while narrowly missing out on European glory crashing out on penalties in the UEFA Cup semi-finals. Despite bowing out of the Champions League in the Group Stage, Prandelli looks set for another top six finish with a Champions League finish a realistic possibility. Prandelli’s astute transfer business has contributed to his success with the likes of Luca Toni, Sebastian Frey and Adrian Mutu all proving massive hits at the Stadio Franchi while summer acquisition Felipe Melo looks a snip at £5 million. Prandelli’s wife passed away in November 2007 and its credit to the man that he has responded by going on to be awarded the Serie A Coach of the Year for 2008.
David Weston: Jose Mourinho surely is so far ahead of the rest that he’s home and dry with his slippers and a cuppa isn’t he?
Whilst we may question his egotism and arrogance as character traits we certainly cannot question his achievement. A Coach intolerant of failure, it seems almost impossible that ‘the Special One’ will fail to guide il Biscione to the title in his debut season in Italy. However, the accolades of Genoa’s Gian Piero Gasperini should not go unrecognised either. Solidifying their top-flight status last season he has guided il Grifone to a very favourable position where European qualification is becoming more reality than pipe-dream – and to think the very same team were languishing in Serie C this time three years ago! Simply guiding the Nerazzurri to a fourth successive title, whilst commendable, isn’t enough on its own, but steering a rejuvenated Rossoblu one step closer to their former glory is certainly worthy of high praise indeed. On this basis Gasperini gets the nod – unless of course Inter win the Champions League, in which case Mourinho really is only second in line to God.