Straight from the dark heart of Italy
These are touchy times in Italian football.
Jose Mourinho cannot open his mouth without bringing down a tirade of abuse from his peers, although deep down you just know that everyone hangs on every utterance from the Portuguese (Sounds like his time at Chelsea, then - Ed).
No one likes being preached to in their own backyard and Italians are no different – and doesn’t our man at Inter like to sermonise, although he always sounds so snide when he starts off on one.
"If you ask me..."
The latest dig concerned certain coaches ‘lacking dignity’ and allowing others, i.e. the club owners, to influence team selection.
He must have been hopping around “Villa Mou” in fevered anticipation at the fall-out from such an assault on the true trouser-wearers in the coach-president relationship.
There's no doubt that, of all the presidents’ men, Carlo Ancelotti was the prime target, although Cagliari coach Massimiliano Allegri obviously thought it was him and Napoli gaffer Roberto Donadoni's ears must also have been burning because he joined in the trio's chorus of mutual appreciation.
After all, all three are employed by, erm, charismatic owners: Silvio Berlusconi at Milan, Napoli’s Aurelio de Laurentiis and Massimo Cellino out in Sardinia.
Berlusconi has even ‘joked’ in the past that he picks the team and rosy-cheeked Carlo sends them out – although the way things are going at the minute, he'd probably want to keep quiet about that.
The coaching fraternity having been circling the wagons ever since, although their association president Renzo Ulivieri does have a way with words when addressing to his fellow union member.
“He has peed outside the bowl,” was Ulivieri's colourful response.
However, one has to say that Mourinho isn’t too far off the mark: what true club-owning egomaniac would sit back and allow a mere minion to make all the fun decisions?
In an interview with the Milan Channel a few years back, Berlusconi scoffed at those coaches who had bragged about having complete control over team matters.
“It makes me smile when I hear such pretensions from coaches, or when the press say that the president should hand over the money and stay out of the rest of it,” he said.
“I have never done that. I got involved with [Arrigo] Sacchi and [Fabio] Capello although I do it less with Ancelotti now,” he added, no doubt remembering he was meant to be running the country at the time.
"Look what I won!"
Italian club presidents have never been the type to hide in the shadows, and if there's a spotlight they'll make sure they're centre stage – sometimes for the wrong reasons.
If it's not employing a revolving-door system for hiring and firing (Maurizio Zamparini at Palermo, Cellino until this season, Urbano Cairo at Torino), then it's attracting the attention of the law (Roma’s King of Bubbles Giuseppe Ciarrapico, Perugia’s Saadi al-Gaddafi fielding Luciano Gaucci and Parma’s milk-spiller Stefano Tanzi, to name but three).
Claudio Lotito is currently appealing against a two-year prison sentence for market rigging in connection with his acquisition of Lazio and is doing nothing more than following in the sticky footsteps of his predecessor – the Gazza-signing Man From Del Monte, Sergio Cragnotti.
Colourful presidents – even the name conveys supreme authority – have been the fabric of Italian football for decades upon decades, cruising serenely through life employing an entrepreneurial flair for stage centre.
Picking 11 names to go out and do your bidding is just an extension of this need for the limelight and the great thing is there always someone else to take the blame.
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