Straight from the dark heart of Italy
It was one of those weeks in Italian football where deep-rooted feelings of anger and frustration came boiling to the surface and it seemed that just about everyone was out to settle a few personal scores.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Arrigo Sacchi were involved in an on-air spat, Leonardo laid bare Silvio Berlusconi’s ugliest personality traits and Claudio Ranieri lost his temper in spectacular fashion with the Roman press.
It is not easy to maintain your clarity when you are caught up in the moment and when pushed to express something your reaction can be volatile to say the least.
Ibrahimovic was the first lose his temper when he was confronted by old nemesis Sacchi, who has never rated the Swede and took little persuasion to have a sly dig when he cited Ibra’s size 47s as the sole reason he scored his first of his two goals against Auxerre in the Champions League.
The comment may have been made in a jovial manner – well sort of – but it just happened to have been uttered live on the post-game round-up show
“Big feet” just happened to then appear in a link-up and the cat-calling started.
Refusing to speak directly to the Milan legend, the man who has yet to achieve legendary status outside his own household, fumed: “Sacchi should learn to be quiet and if he wants something he can come and see me.”
That’s a fighting talk, but sensing he had the moral high ground, the man a mere year away from pensionable age remained calm and composed and attempted to explain.
However, he never got the chance as Zlat cut him off with, “I don’t want your explanations. If you don’t like the way I play then don’t watch me.”
Just imagine if Sacchi had called him “big nose.”
If Ibra thought he was defending the oversized then he was mistaken: the Milan Channel was bombarded with calls and e-mails demanding the latest signing show some respect to a man who after all had taken the club to the very pinnacle of the game.
No apology was forthcoming but if the forward thought he could let his feet doing the talking he was once again to left disappointed.
The Rossoneri were back to their wasteful old ways in a 1-1 against Catania and look like a team that are going to be even more frustrating than Leonardo’s side last season.
The Brazilian is now on a busman’s holiday, “studying” the game around Europe and especially in England where he has picked some sort of TV gig similar to his appearances in the past on Sky Sports.
He does manage to pop back to Italy now and again – and on this occasion it was to give La Gazzetta dello Sport the inside skinny on why he walked away from coaching Milan in the summer.
Unsurprisingly, it was all down to Silvio Berlusconi, who had claimed that the Brazilian was just too damn good-looking – no, he didn’t really – it was all about tactics and how the team should have played.
‘Not so’, countered Leo, who only told us what the whole of the country was well aware off – Berlusconi is vain and self-centred.
“Narcissus doesn't like anything that is not a reflection of himself,” was his poetic take on the whole sorry situation which now finds one of the finest young coaches hanging around TV studios giving his opinion on the game.
Having cleared the air he finally broke his ties with the club he had spent 13 years with by not ruling out a possible return to Italy and if Inter ever came calling he would not turn them down.
Tension had been lingering in the capital well before AS Roma’s dreadful start to the season and Ranieri may regret getting all medieval on the local media at the press conference ahead of the weekend encounter against Bologna.
Francesco Totti had already made it open season on his coach with his complaints that the team were betraying their attacking traditions by playing catenaccio.
“It’s not true,” raged Ranieri. “And I’ll prove. This is my team. I am the coach and the players do as I tell them.”
As the scribes sharpened their pens, the old Roman let loose with a tirade of abuse towards the press in similar fashion, table-thumping included, to Giovanni Trapatoni when he went on a rant in pidgin German during his spell at Bayern Munich, - expect this outburst was in pure Roman.
It was like one of those summer storms – as soon it gets going it soon abates – which sums up the way Roma are playing at the moment.
Having taken a 2-0 lead against Bologna they looked set fair for their first win of the season but ended up drawing 2-2 with former Lazio striker Marco Di Viao scoring both goals for the visitors – and the equaliser with almost the last kick of the game.
Of course Ranieri could not leave well alone when his side were charge and instead of encouraging his players to go for a third he brought off Jeremy Menez for Fabio Simplicio who had not stepped on a football pitch for about four months.
The local press had been calling for the Brazilian and in hindsight it looked as if Ranieri was bowing to pressure which does not bode well for his future employment in his home town.
After all, there is only ever one emperor at a time along the Tiber and we all know who that is.
If a vacancy does come up in the Capital then it is doubtful Leonardo will be leaping into the pool of self-love that is Roma.
More from Serie Aaaaargh!
Great piece. Thanks for the inside look!
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