Massimo Oddo and Giuseppe Iachini proving their worth in Serie Aby Chloe Beresford / 03 January 2018, 11:15Tweet
When a team is struggling for results, it can sometimes seem premature when clubs decide to fire the manager, especially if there are other contributory factors to consider. Serie A clubs can often be guilty of this and – after placing a Coach on gardening leave – routinely bring the first boss back, after the new man does no better or sometimes even worse than the original.
Yet there are two clubs in Italy whose decision to fire their respective bosses has paid off in spectacular fashion, as both Udinese and Sassuolo have enjoyed a huge upturn in fortunes since making that choice. The former removed dinosaur Luigi Delneri and appointed Massimo Oddo after just four wins in their opening 12 matches by November 21, while Sassuolo fired the wildly inexperienced Cristian Bucchi for Giuseppe Iachini just one week later.
While Udinese needed someone young with fresh new ideas, Sassuolo were crying out for some stability and experience after Eusebio Di Francesco had been appointed at Roma this summer following five successful years in Reggio Emilia.
Officials at the two clubs can be pleased that they seem to have got both the timing and the personnel correct for their sides’ individual circumstances, something that so many get wrong in the trigger happy sacking culture that exists in modern football.Taking Udinese as an example, Oddo has brought a more positive attitude to the Friulian side after previous boss Delneri gave out a continuous stream of excuses for his side’s abject performances.
“We can be like Atalanta were last season,” said the man who won the World Cup with Italy as a player to the Corriere dello Sport newspaper.
“At the moment, the players and fans are feeling this atmosphere of positive enthusiasm. I’ll never try to shut that down, because enthusiasm is at the heart of everything and not just football.”
Yet it is not just attitude that has improved at the Stadio Friuli. Oddo’s opening league encounter was an expected 1-0 defeat at home to Napoli, but since then the 41-year-old has won five out of five domestic encounters. This included a stunning 3-1 win over Inter, ending an unbeaten run of 16 matches for the Nerazzurri.
Udinese's last 5 Serie A games under new coach Massimo Oddo.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) December 31, 2017
5 wins, 14 goals scored, 2 goals conceded, 3 points away from the Europa League.
Oh, and Kevin Lasagna has scored in 5 consecutive games.
While Udinese have benefited from the youthful enthusiasm of Oddo, Sassuolo are beginning to enjoy life after Di Francesco with the appointment of the experienced Iachini. This was a man who had achieved promotion from Serie B to the top flight with four separate clubs, and had also enjoyed a previous football career of his own.
He too lost his first match in charge – comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Fiorentina at the beginning of December – but has since taken the bull by the horns to improve his new side’s fortunes. Their first home win of the season versus Crotone was to follow before three shock results in Serie A.
Wins versus high-flying Sampdoria and a 1-0 win over Inter were to come next, while his hard-working side ensured that a return to the Mapei Stadium for former boss Di Francesco with new team Roma wasn’t a happy one. The Neroverdi battled to a 1-1 draw, looking an entirely more resilient side that had taken to the field under previous boss Bucchi. Iachini hailed an improved workrate and team spirit from his players, the Coach having instilled the kind of belief that saw Sassuolo take points from higher opposition.
“We’ve got to improve in terms of possession, but there was great spirit and without that you won’t get a result,” Iachini told Mediaset Premium after the draw with the Giallorossi. “It doesn’t matter what system you use if you don’t have a positive attitude.”
This focus on positivity shown by the duo of bosses highlights that – whether experienced or not – a good mindset is the most important factor when turning a failing side around. It is unlikely that either side will carry on their respective unbeaten runs in the long term, but their appointments demonstrate that sometimes sacking a Coach really is for the best.