By TSG’s coffee and Serie A expert, but not taco expert: Eric Giardini
This past month or so has seen the firings of two high profile managers from two high profile positions in the greater European soccer community.
André Villas-Boas fired on March 4th from Chelsea, one month shy of celebrating his one-year anniversary.
The firing was not a surprise as club owner Roman Abramovich has shown a lack of patience in keeping managers. For those counting at home, Abramovich and his mini-giraffe have now shown the door to nine during his nine-year tenure as owner (Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Wilkins, Hiddink, Ancelotti, Villas-Boas, now Di Matteo). Former New York Yankee owner great George Steinbrenner would have identified nicely with Abramovich.
Not to be outdone in Serie A, Inter Milan cut the chord (and seemingly the parachute too) on its second manger of the season when it, pardon me, booted Claudio Ranieri.
This move–while also not a surprise given Inter’s struggles since the calendar turned to 2012–incredulously was expected for some time.
Andrea Stramaccioni, who the day before his appointment had led the Inter youth team to the inaugural NextGen tournament championship, replaced Ranieri.
While Villas-Boas’ firing caused great media stir around the soccer world, Ranieri’s did not. ‘
Why is this? Both team’s have similar Champion’s League stature for lack of a better qualifier and the press in both locales have field days every day?
The answer appears to lie deep and more subtlety within the heart of the cultures of England and Italy–specifically the way managers are viewed.
In Italy, results are paramount.
It isn’t important how results are achieved, just as long as they come.
If a club goes through a bad streak, someone is at fault. Since an owner cannot fire an entire team, unfortunately it is the manager who must pay the price. He gets the sack and it’s on to the next one. Fans and owners–on average and on the whole–are not overly concerned about long-term development and building for the future.
English managers, on the other hand, are given just a wee bit more security in this respect. Clubs are more willing to let a season play out instead of firing someone midseason.
For example, the 2011-2012 season shows a drastic disparity between the two leagues and numbers of managers fired midseason. Four managers have been fired in England while 14 already have faced the axe in Italy. Oddly enough, five clubs in Italy have made two firings this season. Inter, Palermo, Novara, Cagliari, and Cesena have all made changes twice – with Novara firing their manager January 30 and bringing him back on March 6.
The itchy trigger finger in Italy isn’t the only thing that separates the two nations in terms of their respective managerial cultures. The more interesting contrasts between the two involve coaching licenses, experience before landing a top-flight job, and the recycling of managers amongst the top clubs.
Even, the formal education of managers in the two nations is also drastically different.
While there is no formal “university” in England for managers to go to get their certification to become a manager, Italy has the famed Coverciano. Located in Florence, Coverciano is home to the FIGC (the Italian Football Association) as well the coaching school that all managers must pass to become a manger in either Serie A or B.
In Italy, it is accepted that managing a soccer team is a profession, and like any other profession, schooling is needed. Since opening its doors over 50 years ago, some of the world’s greatest managers have graduated from the coaching course and have had success all over the world. The curriculum at Coverciano covers a wide range of topics covering fitness, tactics, psychology, and even nutrition. An example of this is the current class at Coverciano, including the infamous Roberto Baggio, has been spending time at Roma learning tactics from Luis Enrique.