Why Roberto Mancini Is the Wrong Man to Manage AS Roma
Ever since AS Roma unceremoniously ditched Zdenek Zeman, calcio fans have been speculating on who will fill the Czech's position in the summer.
Aurelio Andreazzoli has returned some stability to the Giallorossi after a disastrous final few games under Zeman, but few believe that he has the credentials to make him a viable contender to take the job full-time.
Andreazzoli has worked at Roma since 2005, first as assistant under Luciano Spalletti and then as a technical coach, but aside from spells spent in the lower divisions, he lacks any experience at the helm.
Fiorentina's Vincenzo Montella would seem a likely candidate, having had a glittering playing career in the capital, up front alongside club legend Francesco Totti. Napoli's Walter Mazzarri has been linked—and has done little to quell suspicions by continuing to refuse a contract extension at the San Paolo.
AC Milan's Massimiliano Allegri has also been linked, but following his side's resurgent form—and their impressive win against the mighty Barcelona—that move now seems unlikely. And then there's the job's other high-profile candidate: Roberto Mancini.
The Manchester City boss looks certain to leave the Premier League after a disappointing season, and Roma are being touted as his future employers. Giallorossi fans everywhere will be hoping that doesn't happen.
Mancini was spotted at a recent Roma game, but he played down any speculation. Moreover, the match was against Sampdoria, a club with which he made history. As a player, he won not only the league but also the UEFA Cup Winner's Cup with the Genoa side, and he is remembered fondly in Liguria.
The same can't be said for his reputation in the Italian capital. Mancini played for and managed Lazio, and given the fact that the crosstown divide in Rome is among the most hotly contested rivalries in world football, it seems astounding that the Roma board would even consider him for the job.
The fact that Roma's current owners came from an American sports background, with little local knowledge or experience in soccer, led some to criticise the takeover in 2011. And following the risky appointments of Luis Enrique—a man with no experience—and Zeman—a dogmatic, notoriously stubborn character—to even consider a Lazio icon for the post would show an incredible insensitivity to the wishes of Roma's tifosi.
His unpopular past aside, however, Mancini still seems a poor choice. Yes, he was Inter's most successful manager ever, and, yes, he has won trophies everywhere he's gone. But those statements come with several very large caveats.
Mancini presided over Inter at a time of great strife in Italian football. The Calciopoli scandal left the Nerazzurri almost completely unchallenged in the league, apart from Roma, who were operating on a shoestring budget.
In the eyes of critics, his record in Milan is diminished by this fact and greatly undermined by another: He never succeeded in Europe. Jose Mourinho created a rampant Inter with much the same personnel, a glaringly obvious indictment of Mancini's ability.
In Manchester, his success has also been relative. It's true that he led the Citizens to cup and league success, but with the amount of money spent at the Etihad, achieving any less would be downright incompetent. And just as at Inter, his failure to impress at the continental level with the Blues suggests real weakness.
Mancini is also a manager who expects to spend. Right from his first job on the bench at Lazio, he was part of a recklessly expensive setup. And while he was not the most culpable in the Biancocelesti's almost complete collapse from gross financial mismanagement, it can't have been the sort of experience most conducive to developing a prudent, responsible approach to professional soccer.
Massimo Moratti's deep pockets and the inexhaustible wealth available at City have allowed Mancini to build strong sides and win titles. But the Lupi have a different model and a more modest bank balance. The aim in the capital is to nurture local talent, import young stars and operate responsibly.
Put another way, Roma is a responsible business. Mancini is not a responsible businessman. He's used to managing billionaire playthings and is likely to find "no" a very hard word to hear.
Appointing him, an uninspiring manager with links to the old enemy, while a club legend like Montella is proving himself so capable on the bench, would be crazy. Which, as fans of the Giallorossi well know, is not to say that it won't happen. Few decisions make sense in the capital. But after a string of bad ones, the tifosi will be hoping that, even just based on the law of averages, the board is due a good call.
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