Straight from the dark heart of Italy
It’s only Tuesday but it’s already turning into one of the wackiest weeks in Italian football for a long time.
An unemployed coach is named top manager of the year, players are caught with their shorts down and ungrateful fans throw a player’s shirt back.
These events all came to light on the back of Monday’s offerings of dodgy refereeing decisions and post-match verbal dust-ups.
The latter incident involved Walter Zenga and we’ll come to the Catania coach and his short-dropping tactic in a moment, but first to Roberto Mancini.
Out of work since winning the title last season, Mancio has been moping around, buying the odd yacht, investing in five-star hotels – the sort of thing you generally do when your former employer is still paying you around €4m a year.
Anyway, not forgotten by his peers, the former Inter boss was awarded the “Golden Bench” as last season’s best coach.
They were all there to see a rare Robby smile, including Jose Mourinho, who may have been reading a recent Serie Aaaaargh! blog on how to bore the Italian press.
The Portuguese dominated a debate amongst the coaches, rambling on about marketing opportunities to make Serie A more popular around the world when all the likes of Carlo Ancelotti wanted to do was tuck into the free grub.
Big, mean Walter Zenga was keeping his head down, not only due to his spat with a TV presenter, but about the ploy his team pulled off, so to speak, in their game against Torino.
Winning a free-kick on the edge of the penalty-area, three Catania players advanced beyond the wall and when Giuseppe Mascara stepped up to shoot, they pulled their shorts down and 'mooned' the keeper as the ball curled into the corner of the net.
Obviously, Toro Matteo Sereni didn’t notice and the incident didn’t come to light until it was picked up by a Monday afternoon sports show.
Not wishing to calm the situation in any way, Catania sporting director Pietro Lo Monaco admitted that the low-down trick had been hatched in training.
Boo, hiss all round and now the powers that be have called for a clamp down on any form of “bad taste” on the pitch... no more shots of Antonio Cassano is his underwear then.
You know you have hit rock bottom [sorry] when your own fans don’t appreciate your efforts or the chance to take home a sweat-soaked shirt for free.
Vangelis Moras thought he was doing the right thing when he lobbed his shirt into the Bologna crowd after the strugglers had gained a valuable point at Siena, only to see the offending article come hurtling back in his direction.
We can only hope that some sort of sanity returns when Italy take on Greece on Wednesday.
Marcello Lippi can equal the world record of 31 internationals undefeated, currently held by former Argentina number one Aflio Basile and Javier Clemente, formerly of Spain, if his side either win or draw.
That would be an incredible feat and the Azzurri would only then have to gain a positive result against Brazil in London in February for the 60-year-old to nab the record outright.
The way things are at the moment, anything is possible.
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