Chievo Sack Rolando Maran: What went wrong?by Chloe Beresford / 30 April 2018, 12:44Tweet
"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," wrote US founding father Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Le Roy in 1789.
Those are the solitary two things that can offer certainty, but there are some occurrences that can usually be predicted with a good degree of accuracy. One of these events is that Chievo Verona will finish mid-table in Serie A, a team who have shown a perennial level of mediocrity that have earned them the reputation as the league’s most boring side.
Since a promotion to the top flight in 2007/08, the “Flying Donkeys” - a nickname earned after a chant from cross-city rivals Hellas stated that “Donkeys will fly before Chievo are in Serie A - have amassed years of averageness, finishing no lower than 16th place in 2008/09 and no higher than 9th in 2015/16. Perhaps this is an excellent achievement for an outfit that only turned professional in 1986, but the team born of a suburb of just 4,500 inhabitants North-West of Verona is undeniably beige.
Rolando Maran has been in charge of the side since 2014, one of the longest serving managers in a league well-known for its penchant for hiring and firing. He too fits into their ethos of quiet obscurity, not one for loud and controversial moments like so many of his peers. Yet his sensible and stable approach has come unstuck this term, his side now in the bottom three along with already-relegated Benevento and their neighbours Hellas.
The final straw for club officials was a 4-1 defeat to Roma this weekend, a result which saw Maran fired after the match and replaced with youth team boss Lorenzo D’Anna, a former Chievo defender. With just three games remaining, the sacking of such a long-serving man in charge could seem like somewhat of a gamble, but what went wrong for the 54-year-old?
His side registered just three wins since November, picking up just 11 points in the last 21 rounds. The problem for Maran and his side has been in scoring goals, Chievo leading the league in the number of offsides given against them pointing to a poorly-organised attack. Leading scorer Roberto Inglese has contributed ten of his side’s total of 31, meaning that the other nine outfield players have weighed in with just 21 all season.
Only Sassuolo, Hellas Verona and Genoa have scored less than Chievo this term, meaning that even already-relegated Benevento have netted more in their first ever campaign in the top flight. Yet the now ex-boss constantly talked about the need for solidity when in actual fact he needed to move away from a defensive approach in order to get some points on the board.
“We should look at the glass as half-full, considering the way the game started and the difficulties we were in,” Maran said to SKY Italia after a 0-0 draw with Torino on April 14th.
“The performance improved as time went on and that is a very important aspect. We kept a clean sheet, which hadn’t happened in a while. I saw some positive signs.”
581 & 477 - Verona (581) and Chievo (477) are the two teams to have conceded the most shots in the top-5 European Leagues 2017/18. Struggle.— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) April 6, 2018
This is a man who had played a 5-3-2 formation on two occasions this season, having come unstuck with attempts to dig in for another mid-table finish. That negative approach was bound to yield poor results at some point and now D’Anna has a huge task on his hands in saving Chievo from their first spell out of the top flight in ten years with just three games remaining.
Maran was out of contract at the end of the current season, making the appointment of the youth team boss seem like somewhat less of a gamble. It just might be that these players needed to hear a different voice on the training pitch in order to wake them up to the real possibility of relegation to Serie B.