Serie A's Coaching Carousel: 4 Men in the Hot Seat
Serie A is a manager's hell.
In a sport where managers are made scapegoats more often than others, Italy's league takes the cake.
There were 13 in-season managerial changes in the Serie A a year ago, including repeat offenders. Last year, Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini changed managers four times in a single season. Small wonder the Rosaneri were relegated last year.
In the first two and a half months of the season, four managers have already been put to the sword in Serie A. Genoa, Catania, Sampdoria and Chievo (whose former manager, Giuseppe Sannino, is shown above) are now under the charge of different coaches than they had at the beginning of the season.
In a league where the manager's seat is perpetually hot, who else may be on their way out?
Let's look at four men who may be uncomfortably warm.
Eusebio Di Francesco
Eusebio Di Francesco did extraordinarily well to lead Sassuolo to their first top-flight promotion in club history last year. His club beat Hellas Verona by three points for the Serie B title and is currently a point clear of the relegation zone in 17th place.
That being said, it's hard to see the Neroverde—possessors of the league's worst defense—clear for long. That sieve in the back is going to catch up with them, and all of their pursuers are teams that have established solid top-flight pedigrees in the last decade or so. Sampdoria, their closest challenger for safety, even went to the Champions League within the last five years.
When the club does fall on hard times, Di Francesco may well find the ax as so many managers do in that situation. It's rare for a promoted team to keep its manager through an entire Serie A season—all three made at least one change last year.
Di Francesco may end up paying an unfair price for his Serie B success by the time the season is set and done.
Davide Nicola is another manager who could be subject to the promotion curse and sent packing after getting his team into the top flight.
Nicola led the team to a third-place finish in Serie B last year and put them through the promotion playoffs to get back to the top flight for the first time in four years.
That being said, there are weaknesses on his team that could see his exit, particularly in the front. Livorno have scored 13 goals this year, but seven of them came in a combined two games—a 4-1 win over Sassuolo and a 3-3 draw against Torino. The team has been shut out five times in 12 games—a worrying sign.
The Amaranto have performed well defensively—they're 10th in the league in goals allowed—but they've yet to face the meat of their schedule and have Juventus coming up in the next round. Ultimately their lack of consistent punch up front will get the team into trouble.
Any long stretch of poor play for a provincial side like Livorno is liable to get a manager sacked. Nicola will have to ensure that that doesn't happen if he wants to be coaching at the Armando Picchi next year.
After last year's Coppa Italia triumph, many pegged Lazio as a team that could make a run at the top five. Instead, the capitol club has taken a hard fall. Their 12 games have been evenly split into four wins, four draws and four losses, and they sit eighth in the table with 16 points.
Even before the season started, they suffered a 4-0 thrashing in the Supercoppa Italiana at the hands of Juventus. While losing to the best team in the country—even by that scoreline—isn't necessarily a disaster, the fact that it happened playing to a largely sympathetic crowd in Rome didn't bode well.
Of their four league losses, the 4-1 pounding they received against Juve in Turin at the end of August can be forgiven. The others, however, have given Petković reason to worry about the state of his employment.
The losses have included shock falls against struggling teams in Atalanta and Genoa—the latter in a home game—but the most unforgivable came at the Stadio Olimpico on September 22.
It was then that Roma dominated them in a 2-0 victory that served as the coming-out party for Roma's record-breaking start. At the time, Lazio was riding a momentum high in the Derby della Capitale, and Roma, despite their talent, looked to be a team in shambles. To lose so decisively was a huge blow to the pride of the club and its fans, and started rumblings that Lazio may not be as good as hoped.
Petković has stated that he does not fear for his job, but if Lazio continues to be so mediocre, President Claudio Lotito may have to do something to galvanize the squad.
Massimiliano Allegri is almost certain to be out of a job this summer.
Three seasons removed from guiding the team to their first championship in seven years, the team has endured its worst start since 1981-82—the last time they were relegated from the top flight.
Milan sits in 10th place after a jarring 3-4-5 (W-D-L) record and is only in the top half thanks to goal difference over Parma.
To be fair, not everything going on at Milan is Allegri's fault. He has suffered a rash of injuries at the top of the formation. Stephan El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini have missed significant time, heaping the burden on Alessandro Matri, Robinho and Mario Balotelli—whose off-field incidents indicate he may be cracking under the strain.
The team's failures in the transfer market are likewise not Allegri's responsibility. Adriano Galliani abjectly failed to give him a much-needed upgrade in the center of his defensive line, and the acquisition of Matri—who has been an abject failure—was Galliani's doing, not Allegri's.
But Allergi is not entirely without blame. Milan's miracle comeback last year masked some tactical shortcomings. His insistence in playing Kévin Constant at left-back over budding star Mattia De Sciglio—when healthy—mystifies Milan's fans.
Allergi has a bad habit of using the wrong formation at the wrong time—such as his use of 4-4-1-1 against Chievo last weekend that gave the team little creativity and didn't muster a single goal against the league's bottom team.
It's clear that Allegri needs to go. He's never been a particular favorite of owner Silvio Berlusconi, and it was somewhat of a surprise that he stayed at the San Siro over the summer. Club legend Filippo Inzaghi, currently coaching the club's Primavera team, is waiting in the wings as a likely successor. Unless another absolute miracle happens, Allegri will almost certainly not coach this team in 2014-15.
At this point, Allegri's fate is a matter of when, not if.