Mourinho leads the Serie A manager merry-go-round

Milan (AFP) – Jose Mourinho is the biggest name to arrive on a Serie A bench this summer but the once Special One’s shock move to Roma is one of 12 managerial changes in Italy’s top flight in a chaotic summer.

AFP Sport picks out the key new faces leading the country’s top clubs.

Jose Mourinho (Roma)

The two-time Champions League winner’s arrival came like a bolt from the blue for Roma’s trophy-starved supporters, who reacted to the shock appointment as though they had signed a superstar striker.

The Portuguese’s stock might have fallen in England after underwhelming spells at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur but memories of his historic treble at Inter Milan over a decade ago mean he is still widely respected in Italy.

He admits that Roma is a rebuilding project and will need all his managerial experience to get Roma back into the Champions League places in the face of stiff competition. 

Massimiliano Allegri (Juventus)

Allegri returns to the scene of his greatest triumphs after two years out of the game, and is one of three big coaching names to retake their place on the sidelines.

Juve only earned qualification for the Champions League on the final day of last season, an uninspiring campaign under former player Andrea Pirlo, and Allegri will be looking to continue his streak of league titles after guiding the Old Lady to four straight league and cup doubles between 2015 and 2019.

A pragmatic coach rather than an ideological one, he was also responsible for rebuilding Juve’s reputation in Europe, adding to domestic dominance by taking them to two Champions League finals.

Simone Inzaghi (Inter Milan)

The Lazio legend jumped into the huge whole left by Antonio Conte and has a job on his hands to defend Inter’s Serie A title after the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, as the champions try to cut costs and balance the books.

However five years keeping his former club competitive on a relatively low budget, winning an Italian Cup and taking them back into the Champions League for the first time in 13 years, will have been good preparation for a high-pressure role at a huge club that’s had a difficult summer.   

Luciano Spalletti (Napoli)

Spalletti is one of most recognisable characters in Italian football, his outgoing personality and sometimes odd outbursts often overshadowing his capabilities as a coach.

He qualified Inter Milan for the Champions League in each of his two seasons there before being sacked in 2019, and is the only coach in the last 20 years to bring any silverware to Roma.

The 62-year-old inherits a talented squad which missed out on Europe’s top competition by a single point and Napoli will again be a serious contender for the top four positions.

Maurizio Sarri (Lazio)

Rome derbies will have an interesting clash of styles now that ‘Sarriball’ will face off against arch pragmatist Mourinho. 

Of all the new positions taken up by coaches this summer Sarri’s might be trickiest, as he attempts to reshape a squad used to playing in Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 in into a free-flowing 4-3-3 built on quick, short passes.

He has talent at his disposal with the likes of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto backing up Italy forward Ciro Immobile.

Not to forget…

Spezia thought they had tied down Vincenzo Italiano when he signed a new contract in June, but just a few weeks later the rising star of Italian coaching dumped the small team he had impressively kept in Serie A to have a crack at managing sleeping giants Fiorentina.

Should Fiorentina, who only finished one point ahead of Spezia last season, keep hold of Dusan Vlahovic this season Germany-born Italiano could be a decent bet to pull the Tuscans out of a slump which has been going on for seasons.

Alessio Dionisi earns a spot at Sassuolo after winning Serie B in impressive fashion with Empoli last season and will hope to build on Roberto De Zerbi’s work even though star midfielder Manuel Locatelli has left for Juve.

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