Mutti aims to be as Ace as Ventura

Having spent the best part of the last three weeks making rather loud noises about resigning, Bari finally took Coach Giampiero Ventura up on his offer last Thursday and cancelled his contract by mutual consent. In his place, they appointed perennial journeyman Bortolo Mutti on a deal that runs until the end of the season.
If ever there was an individual in football that epitomised the term of ‘journeyman’, it is Mutti. Bari is his 12th club in 23 years as a Coach, and he has never managed to complete three full seasons at any of them. He has been in charge of a club in Serie A on six previous occasions, but has been involved in relegation on three of those. His best work has been with smaller clubs in the lower divisions, but he seems unable to replicate success in Serie A on anything resembling a regular basis. His greatest achievement in Italy’s top division was with a small club, Messina, who he first led to promotion from Serie B before guiding them to seventh in Serie A in 2004/05 (with a squad that included Gaetano D’Agostino, Marco Storari, Salvatore Aronica, Massimo Donati and Nicola Amoruso).
Unfortunately, as appears to be the case with Mutti, it did not last. He was sacked in Week 31 of the 2005/06 season with Messina in 18th place, with his replacement being none other than the Ventura himself (although six losses in their final seven games suggests they were probably better off sticking with Mutti). The club finished 18th, exactly where Mutti left them, and only avoided adding another relegation to his record thanks to the Calciopoli scandal that saw Juventus demoted to Serie B in their place.
The situation he finds himself in at Bari is none too dissimilar from the one he entered when taking the Atalanta job in January 2010. They had 13 points (Bari had 14 before Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Genoa), and were on a five game winless streak (the Galletti are now winless in eight). However, the crucial difference between now and last year is the performance of fellow relegation battlers.
Despite having two less points compared to Bari in 2010/11, Atalanta were 19th in Serie A when Mutti joined, and only three points away from 17th. Bari are currently nine points adrift because the teams around them are performing considerably better than those competing with Atalanta last season. In the 20 games he had in his failed effort to save the Orobici from relegation, he picked up 22 points (a ratio of just over one point per game).
When you consider that no team has finished in 17th with less than 37 points since Serie A expanded to 20 clubs in the 2004/05 campaign, and that the average for staying up is 40, the realisation of the task in hand for Mutti becomes all the more clear – he is going to have to improve on that points per game ratio by quite some margin (to almost two per game) if Bari are to escape.
It is not impossible, just highly unlikely. President Vincenzo Matarrese does not seem to have a great deal of belief. He was so determined to ensure any new Coach would only have a deal until the end of the season that he discarded his first choice for the role, Giuseppe Papadopulo, as he wanted a contract until 2012. It also hints at forward planning – allowing freedom to hire a Coach in the summer that can get them promoted immediately from Serie B. Judging by his record in the lower divisions, Mutti may be the man he needs after all.

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