THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Sacked Chelsea coach Gianluca Vialli will most likely continue his managerial career in England, not Italy, reports Filippo Ricci

What does the future hold for Gianluca Vialli after his sacking by Chelsea? He didn’t need an official coaching licence to work in Eng­land, though it will be mandatory in the future, but it is already compulsory in Italy and Vialli doesn’t yet have one.

In Serie A the problem is often bypassed by the coach sitting on the bench as “team manager”, as David Platt did in his ill-fated spell at Sampdoria, with his licence-holding assistant taking the title of coach. But Vialli’s career prospects back home are in doubt for other reasons too, despite instant talk in the English press linking him with the upcoming vacancy at Juventus.

His sacking hit the headlines in Italy, but more for the background intrigue that led to the decision than as a result of interest in Vialli’s abilities as a coach. Italian coaches have made an impact in several countries in recent times: Fabio Capello with Real Madrid, Gio­vanni Trapattoni with Bayern Munich, even Alberto Bigon with Sion in Switzerland, have all won championships. But Vialli didn’t, after all, win the Premiership, and that is what really counts in Italy. The Swede Sven Goran Eriksson, for example, had won cups in Italy and in Europe but was not regarded as a great coach by Italian pundits until he finally landed the title with Lazio last season.

And the fact that Vialli appears to have played a part in creating factions in the Chelsea dressing room, making more or less the same mistakes as his predecessor Ruud Gullit, has not helped his image in Italy. After leaving Chelsea for Valencia, Didier Deschamps told Italian newspapers that in London he found a “different” Vialli. “He has changed,” the for­mer Juventus midfielder said. “He was not the nice person I knew as a player any more.”

Obviously someone who becomes a man­ager while still a player cannot keep the same relationship with former team-mates. But this is part of the problem with Vialli’s reputation in Italy, where the concept of player-manager is almost unknown and tends to be regarded with something approaching derision.

The season in Italy has started very late this year, on October 1, so there are unlikely to be sackings before the end of the year. Clubs like Inter or Fiorentina, who may need to calm down demoralised fans by bringing in a big name as new coach, are the sort of teams that might look to Vialli. Otherwise his future may lie with volatile clubs where coaches are always under pressure, like newly-promoted Napoli, or Perugia, whose impatient president rel­ishes seeing his name in the headlines, much like Vialli’s former employer.

Vialli was earning a lot less in England than the salaries drawn by top coaches in Italy, and he is still under contract to Chelsea until June, so he probably wouldn’t represent too great a financial risk for an Italian club. It’s more likely, however, that his future will lie in in the Premiership. It’s in England where he has achieved all his results as a coach, and where he is clearly respected, whereas in Italy he is still very much an unknown quantity. The fact that he won more trophies than any other manager in Chelsea’s history cuts little ice back home.

From WSC 165 November 2000. What was happening this month

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