Coverciano: The incredible effectiveness of the famous Italian coaching school

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 20 August 2018, 14:08

Coverciano: The incredible effectiveness of the famous Italian coaching school

A quick glance at the nationality of Coaches in Europe’s top-five leagues gives a very revealing glimpse into the makeup of how well each country is doing in terms of producing their own home-grown talent.

Of course, the Premier League lags behind the rest with only Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche, Roy Hodgson and Neil Warnock originating from England.

Spain and France have not done too badly with only five foreign managers in each league, La Liga’s only non-Spanish bosses hailing from Argentina. Ligue 1 has six non-French Coaches, but Italy stand a cut above the rest with only one of their 20 teams employing a boss from outside the peninsula.

The odd one out is Spaniard Julio Velazquez at Udinese, however the hiring and firing policy at the Friulian club may see him pushed out of the door sooner rather than later.

Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri have both moved across to the Premier League with Chelsea, the latest bosses to have earned a stellar reputation both at home and abroad. Such strength in depth of Italian bosses begs the question of how a constant production line of tactically astute Coaches are created, and the answer lies firmly in a place just outside Florence in the foothills of picturesque Fiesole.

Coverciano is the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) headquarters, a suitably beautiful setting for where serious business is carried out. As well as a museum for the Italian national team, the centre for refereeing in Italy and the location for Azzurri training camps, this base has also seen the likes of Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni and Arrigo Sacchi graduate from its Coaching school.

“We do not want to create identikit Coaches,” Renzo Ulivieri, director of the technical school at Coverciano said to the New York Times.

“There is no ‘Italian style’ of Coach: I believe in this a lot. This is not a factory. There is no such thing as ‘my football.’ There is only the football that you can play with the 20 players you have.”

This July, a new crop of aspiring Italian Coaches took on a course that combines the UEFA A and B exams, allowing those who pass to be eligible for any youth team or first team up to Serie C or assistant Coaches in Serie A or B. This group included some household names, the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Alberto Gilardino, Thiago Motta, Paolo Cannavaro and Gabriel Batistuta all studying at the Tuscan base.

From there, they would be able to take the UEFA pro licence, nicknamed “Il Master” at the famous Italian coaching school, a years work culminating in a set of oral exams where they must defend their written football thesis to Ulivieri. They are be forbidden by the director from relying on their extensive knowledge as players in this course, words such as “in my day” a sure-fire way to fail.

The students don’t use textbooks, as “everything that is written down is already out of date”, and what Ulivieri wants to see is an understanding of how to adapt in a game where tactics are fluid and trends are forever “in a state of flux”.

It is not just the famous names, those who want to rise to the very top, that go through this rigorous process. Every single would-be Coach who walks out of Coverciano with a qualification has been subjected to the same scrutiny, this “finishing school” for football bosses demanding perfection of everybody, no matter who they are.

This means that all levels of Italian football are blessed with a myriad of home-grown Coaches, ready to rise up the ranks, hoping to make it to the very top, earning a reputation through a career path similar to Juventus boss Max Allegri. This can only serve to benefit the game on the peninsula, and explains why even the smaller Serie A teams have intense tactical duels between them, and why the Italian top-flight can boast the highest number of native tacticians.

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