Serie A strugglers Benevento sack Marco Baroni and replace him with Roberto De Zerbiby Chloe Beresford / 24 October 2017, 15:20Tweet
It was the worst start to a season in Serie A history. Newcomers Benevento had lost nine out of nine of their opening matches - scoring just two goals in total - and a 3-0 defeat to Fiorentina last Sunday was the final straw.
On Monday night the club announced that they had sacked Coach Marco Baroni, releasing the news via an official statement:
“The club thanks Baroni for his professionalism and the great emotion that he brought to Benevento football club, the fans and the city, with promotion to Serie A.”
Such an abysmal start to life in the top-flight may have been an open and shut case when it came to the decision to remove the 54-year-old from his post, but on deeper inspection it seems a little bizarre. The aforementioned statement pointed to the superb work done by the boss in getting the small Campanian club to Italy’s top division for the first time in their history.
Indeed, that promotion was their second in succession, as the previous year they had risen to Serie B under Coach Gaetano Auteri. As recently as 2005, the club had been refounded after the previous regime had folded and president Oreste Vigorito was quick to heap the praise on Baroni after their rags-to-riches success story this summer.
“Our coach is and will remain Baroni, there’s never been doubt, neither when he was flying nor when he landed,” the owner gushed after promotion last season. “These players aren’t [Gonzalo] Higuain and [Paulo] Dybala, but they have big hearts like them, maybe even more so.”
Perhaps there were more issues behind the scenes, but his replacement seemed even stranger than his sacking. Roberto De Zerbi was immediately installed as the new boss, but his record can’t have inspired confidence in those Benevento supporters.
The 38-year-old has very limited coaching experience, and his last stint in charge of a club saw him sacked from Palermo after seven consecutive defeats and no points gained at home for three months. Of course the Sicilians had multiple issues of their own, but it is difficult to see how he has the relevant credentials to pull Benevento out of the mire.
Realistically, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for a club who have risen through the ranks so quickly. When Pescara were relegated with just 15 points last term it showed just how large the gulf in quality from the top to the bottom of Serie A really is, and according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Benevento will have to pay Baroni a staggering ¤800,000 as part of an anti-firing clause in his contract.
Hiring and firing is the trend in Italy though, so don’t be surprised to see Baroni back on the bench if things don’t work out with the new man. Genoa did the exact same thing with Ivan Juric last year, the Croatian fired after the club sold numerous high-value players only to bring him back when newly-appointed Andrea Mandorlini did even worse.
The principal of “Gardening Leave” allows clubs on the peninsula to do this, as all Coaches are still under contract until they find another job with a new club. It may be a case of “be careful what you wish for” with Benevento as they removed a man who was more familiar with the side and the setup, but time will tell whether their decision was the right one.