Siniša Mihajlović stepped down as Coach of Serie A outfit Catania on Monday in an apparent ambition to further his career, following a exceptional six months in charge at the Stadio Angelo Massimo.
The former left-sider appeared apologetic to the clubs following in his resignation, emotionally stating – “I would like, but certainly do not demand, that all the Rossazzurri fans put themselves in my shoes and understand the decision I have made,”
“I hope to soon find a job which legitimises my decision and my professional ambitions.”
The departing boss seemed keen to stress his need to manage a club with similar stature to that he now sees himself, following his impressive guidance of Catania.
Taking the reins in December, Mihajlović found the Gli Elephanti rock bottom in Serie A, after a woeful 2009. However, a 2-1 away win over Juventus and a deserved 3-1 win over former club Inter, were highlights in a fantastic second half of the season, which combined with the January acquisition of Argentine forward Maxi Lopez, saw Catania rid the memory of their last day of the season survival a mere 12 months earlier, with a comfortable finish of 13th.
Now Jose Mourinho seems all but confirmed as Real Madrid manager, speculation surfaced that Mihajlović may indeed be the self proclaimed ‘special one’s’ natural replacement at the San Siro. The Serb finished his playing career at Inter, and even took his first steps in to coaching by assisting Roberto Mancini back in 2007/08 campaign. However the mainstay of the free-kick specialists career was spent in Rome with Lazio, and it’s not inconceivable he could well head back to the Stadio Olimpico after the Biancocelesti endured a tame and dour season, finishing 12th.
Since then, before his celebrated progress with Catania, he’d also been in the hot-seat with Bologna. It was a less fruitful adventure for Mihajlović which saw only another six month period, ended with his sacking and Bologna occupying a relegation place.
It’s said the Yugoslavian-born defender’s time at Bologna was blighted by difficulties with the clubs officials and disagreements with high-profile players, somewhat substantiating and highlighting his colourful past in the process.
Mihajlović had a few note-worthy moments of shame in his career, from the racist attack on Patrick Vieira, whom he’d spend his final playing season with at Inter, and eventually coached, to the infamous spit on Adrian Mutu, resulting in an eight-game ban by UEFA. This feisty personality and well known competitive nature, are key components of the professional that make up the ex-Red Star Belgrade man, and it’s thought these traits had followed him in to management.
Yet, with Catania’s fine second half of the season, a questionable temperament is now a distant memory, with dreams of running Italy and Europe’s champions firmly foreseeable, and realistically forthcoming.
Catania themselves now must now peruse a less decorated but respectable pool of applicants than Inter to replace Mihajlović, with the likes of Serse Cosmi, Davide Ballardini and Alberto Zaccheroni available.