Where did it all go wrong for Roberto Donadoni at Bologna?

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 25 May 2018, 15:25

Many may remember Roberto Donadoni as a classy winger both in a ten-year spell for Milan in the glory days of the club between 1986 and 1996 and in the same period for the Italian national side. He would represent the Azzurri on 63 occasions, with Michel Platini having dubbed him the “best Italian footballer of the 1990s”.

After his playing career ended, it was no surprise that this intelligent footballer would go straight into management, and was so well thought of that he would soon enjoy a brief spell as coach of the Italian national team, replacing Marcello Lippi after the team’s triumph in 2006. His tenure was inevitably a tough act to follow, Donadoni sacked by the Azzurri after a disappointing performance in Euro 2008.

Such a setback did not dissuade the former Milan man from his work however, and would go on to take charge of Napoli, Cagliari, Parma and ultimately Bologna. “He is a man anyone would love to have for a friend. He was a great player and is a wonderful coach,” observed former boss Arrigo Sacchi, who now works as a television football pundit in Italy.

“His coaching style is positive and he is a positive person. I coached him for about 10 years, between Milan and the national team, and I never once had to reprimand him. He always gave it his all.

“He was very generous with his teammates. He always ran, suffered and fought for them. He was a positive example for them. He was the type who always got to training early and was very serious in his approach. He had a great work ethic. Overall, he had what it took to play a team sport. It doesn’t surprise me that he has gone on to be a good manager.”

Yet this week Donadoni was sacked as Bologna boss, despite club president Joey Saputo having also claimed the 54-year-old was an “excellent Coach” in his parting statement. So where did it all go wrong?

Delio Rossi had taken Bologna back to Serie A in 2015 after a one-year spell in the second tier, but a string of poor results early in the following campaign saw Donadoni appointed in October. The new man in charge steered the Rossoblu to a credible 14th-place finish, and would go on to finish 15th in the following two campaigns.

This may seem underwhelming, but statistics alone do not convey the excellent work done with young players such as the now highly-coveted winger Simone Verdi, Erick Pulgar, Federico Di Francesco and Adam Masina. Furthermore, Bologna have not provided the boss with conditions that are conducive to anything other than a mid-table finish, making it seem strange that they would expect anything otherwise from him.

Perhaps the final straw was a row between the Coach and striker Mattia Destro, with the Corriere Di Bologna reporting back in February that one or the other would have to leave at the end of the campaign after the situation became untenable. However it is hard to see that anyone else could do a better job than Donadoni given the same conditions.

Reports suggest that the front-runner to replace him is Pippo Inzaghi, however the club will have to wait until the conclusion of the Serie B playoffs, which have been delayed by a week while authorities look into Bari’s alleged financial irregularities.

Other names included in the mix are said to be Roberto De Zerbi, Francesco Guidolin, Davide Nicola, Ivan Juric and Rolando Maran, and Bologna may just find out with one of these men that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It is unlikely that Roberto Donadoni will struggle to find employment from this point on, and it will be interesting to see what the boss can do at his next club and how his current side fare without him.

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Graham Potter
Graham Potter
(Swansea City)
20th May
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