Straight from the dark heart of Italy
They say you should never go back, but in Italy coaches have little choice but to return to the scene of their crimes.
It’s very unlikely that a Serie A coach would ever send their president a text message with a curt “I am off,” and – Roberto Mancini’s meltdown apart – there are very few public resignations.
Instead, no matter how dire the situation becomes, the current ‘Mister’ will hang on and on until his employer informs the world at large that he’s having said coach around for a little chat.
Even then, it’s not so clear-cut as there are no big pay-offs and "on your way now" – not where Italian contract law is concerned: you can’t just decide to one sack someone on the spot.
So like many before him, the latest managerial casualty, Torino’s Gianni de Biasi, has been sent home with his current contract paid into his bank account as if nothing was amiss.
"If anyone needs me, I'll be in my shed"
It’s a bit like having a coach in reserve – one who got the club into a mess, but who can be called back at a moment’s notice if the new man fails to deliver the goods.
Thus we have the situation of Torino president Urbano Cairo summoning Walter Novellino from Milan to Turin on Monday morning to replace the man who replaced him.
Novellino departed Toro in less than happy circumstances first time around and no doubt there was a groan of "Oh no, not again" from the players, who knew something was afoot when they turned up for training only to be told it had been cancelled.
Let us not forget that De Biasi has been in charge of Torino three times while Francesco Guidolin keeps an overnight bag ready at all times just in case he has to take charge of Palermo for a morale-draining fifth time.
Guidolin: "Guess who's back?"
Why do they do it? Well, it’s like having a job where you are on call all the time but depending on how well the current incumbent is doing, you can either fill your time with a few spots on the numerous footy shows or take an extended holiday with your nearest and dearest: a mobile phone.
No doubt ego plays a big part, and the hope-springs-eternal belief that "This time I'll do better". But on the whole very few have ever turned things around second, third, fourth or however many times they trudge back on to the training ground to face the same players who couldn’t stand the sight of them in the first place.
They could always find another club – but then, why bother when you are still being paid a tidy sum? Don’t expect to see Mancini back on the bench for another four years unless it all goes pear-shaped for Jose Mourinho.
Then, who knows, maybe we’ll hear Massimo Moratti uttering that get-out clause so loved by club owners, that "everyone deserves a second chance" and "let bygones be bygones" while at the same time finally getting some work out of someone who he has been paying for the last couple of years anyway.
There's always a second act in Italian football, it’s just that they are never worth watching. But then again, Toro fans already know that.
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