Serie A Managers XI: Who would make the team?

by Chloe Beresford / 06 February 2018, 09:51

AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso and Massimo Oddo of Udinese met for the first time as opposing Coaches last Sunday, their respective sides both coming away with a point. However the story wasn’t the result or the match itself, rather a meeting of friends who had achieved so much together as players.

“Obviously, this is not a normal match for me, but it’s one I will have to deal with,” said Oddo to reporters before the encounter at the Dacia Arena in Udine.

“Gattuso is a teammate and friend I shared unforgettable moments with, so I am very happy with the success he is experiencing as a Coach. As a player, he reached a high level by understanding his limitations and that is a sign of great intelligence. I’ll be very happy to embrace him on the touchline tomorrow.”

At Milan and for the Italian national side, the pair reached the summit of world football, winning the World Cup with the Azzurri in 2006 and the Champions League with the Rossoneri the following year. There are also multiple stories of the pair – along with team-mate Andrea Pirlo – sharing a genuine camaraderie, always pranking each other with practical jokes.

Their careers somewhat mirrored each other after they took the football management course at Italy’s training base in Coverciano together, and then achieved promotion just days apart from each other when Oddo took Pescara into the top flight in 2016, Gattuso following suit by taking Pisa into Serie B. They were then appointed within days of each other in November 2017 when they took on their current roles at Udinese and Milan.

“I never expected Oddo to be a Coach,” said Gattuso to Sky Italia recently. “He always trained with the brakes on. However he studied hard and graduated so he deserves all this.” Another of their former team-mates in Pippo Inzaghi is currently in charge of Serie B side Venezia, but it is his brother Simone – currently holding the reins at Lazio – who is receiving the plaudits as a Coach.

The 41-year-old played as a striker, scoring 28 goals in 133 appearances for Lazio in an eleven year spell. He has just three international caps for Italy, a figure dwarfed by his brother’s 57 appearances in the Azzurri shirt. Simone may not have scored many goals himself, but his team have netted 58 in 23 outings this term, second only to Juventus by just one goal. As a Coach therefore, Inzaghi has deserved every one of the plaudits that have come his way.

This cluster of young bosses are the future of Coaching in Italy, with the trend certainly favouring those who have once been players. Bologna boss Roberto Donadoni won several Serie A and Champions League titles with Milan and notched up 63 international caps between 1986 and 1996, while Sassuolo’s Beppe Iachini and Fiorentina Coach Stefano Pioli were team-mates along with Gabriel Batistuta at Fiorentina in the 1990’s.

Indeed, all but one of the current Coaches in Serie A have previously played professional football, the only exception being Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri. He had a truly unconventional route to taking charge of a Serie A side, working for years in the Italian lower leagues after quitting his job as a bank manager in 1990.

There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to the trend, other than many ex-players are familiar with Coverciano and decide to take their training there in order to progress to management level.

Serie A Managers XI

Goalkeeper: Walter Zenga

Defenders: Massimo Oddo, Stefano Pioli, Rolando Maran, Leonardo Semplici

Midfielders: Gennaro Gattuso, Beppe Iachini, Eusebio Di Francesco

Attackers: Roberto Donadoni, Fabio Pecchia, Simone Inzaghi

Subs: Diego Lopez, Marco Giampaolo, Gian Piero Gasperini, Luciano Spalletti, Davide Ballardini, Massimiliano Allegri, Roberto De Zerbi, Walter Mazzarri

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