The 2021/2022 Serie A campaign is almost underway, and many of Italy’s top clubs will start the season with a new manager. Juventus, Inter and Roma all made high-profile changes and will have to adapt to new management styles in addition to typical roster movement.
With thirteen of the twenty clubs making changes, the corps of coaches, though still strikingly Italian, will look quite different from last season. Several well-known managers have made their return to the top flight, potentially leading to a more competitive, better-coached league.
Let’s dive into a ranking of every coach in the league, from worst to best.
20) Thiago Motta, Spezia
The longtime PSG midfielder coached just 10 professional matches in the 2019 season for Genoa before being sacked. He will have a massive challenge replacing Vincenzo Italiano at Spezia, which, despite avoiding relegation last season, have an one of the least-talented squads in the league.
19) Davide Ballardini, Genoa
In his third stint with Genoa, Davide Ballardini has never stayed with a club for more than a year. Despite an impressive 11th-placed finish last season, he will need to win quickly to avoid losing his job this year. Ballardini’s only notable accomplishment to date has been his part in Palermo’s historic nine-manager campaign in 2015/16.
18) Roberto D’Aversa, Sampdoria
Apparently Sampdoria have a penchant for hiring coaches that have failed spectacularly in their previous posts. D’Aversa, following a relatively successful 4-year stint with Parma from 2016 to 2020, was rehired by the club in 2021 and singlehandedly dragged his side down to relegation, winning just one of 23 matches. With young star Mikkel Damsgaard’s transfer imminent, Samp could be a legitimate contender for relegation.
17) Aurelio Andreazzoli, Empoli
After losing Alessio Dionisi to Sassuolo, Empoli turns to Andreazzoli for his third stint at the club. The Italian is a veteran manager who has worked as an assistant under Luis Enrique and the legendary Zdenek Zeman. Like Motta, he was most recently in charge of Genoa in 2019 and lasted just 9 games before he was let go. Not the most inspiring hire.
16) Paolo Zanetti, Venezia
Zanetti’s stock has risen quickly since taking over Serie C side Sudtirol at 35. The former Torino player has consistently won forty percent of league matches and surprisingly won the Serie B playoffs with fifth-place Venezia last season. Zanetti will face a massive challenge keeping his club afloat, but he is a proven winner and just might surprise the league.
15) Fabrizio Castori, Salernita
A veteran manager who has coached over 1,000 matches, Castori led Salernita to a second-place finish and automatic promotion from the Serie B last year. The grizzled veteran has 40 years of managerial experience under his belt, and he will have to use all of his knowledge to keep his side from relegation.
14) Alessio Dionisi, Sassuolo
A young and fast-rising manager, Dionisi has been given the unenviable task of replicating Roberto De Zerbi’s success at Sassuolo after a brilliant season with Serie B champions Empoli. Despite being unproven in the Serie A, the 41-year-old will have a talented squad that should finish in the top half of the table for the third straight year.
Alessio Dionisi : "Ce que j'aime à Sassuolo c'est l'esprit de famille et la disponibilité de tous. Tout le monde a le même objectif de réaliser quelque chose d'important cette année et je compte sur chacun de mes joueurs pour réussir notre année." ⚫ pic.twitter.com/O5sfubs8rx— Sassuolo France (@SassuoloFRA) July 27, 2021
13) Eusebio Di Francesco, Hellas Verona
Hellas Verona monumentally overachieved in two seasons under Ivan Juric, and Di Francesco will almost certainly be unable to replicate these results. The manager has had success at Sassuolo and Roma in the past, but he has most recently underachieved with talented squads at Sampdoria and Cagliari. At a club that already lacks talent, Di Francesco has to improve on his recent record to survive.
12) Luca Gotti, Udinese
Gotti, a former Chelsea assistant, has a reputation for conservative, defensive football. Despite owning the strong attacking trio of Rodrigo De Paul, Kevin Lasagna and Stefano Okaka, Gotti’s side has struggled to score and has underwhelmed with thirteenth and fourteenth-place finishes in two seasons. He will be under serious pressure to improve Udinese’s offense, a task made much more difficult with De Paul’s departure to Spain.
11) Leonardo Semplici, Cagliari
After taking over SPAL in 2016, Semplici guided the minnows from Serie C to Serie A in just two seasons. After his appointment in February, Cagliari won 6 of 15 matches and moved out of the relegation zone and finished fourteenth. The Sardinians have brought in several important pieces in the transfer window and should be set to rebound from a disappointing season.
10) Sinisa Mihajlovic, Bologna
Bologna head man Mihajlovic has done a fantastic job turning his side into a dangerous attacking team. The former Yugoslav international has developed and capitalized on young, dynamic players like Musa Barrow, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Riccardo Orsolini. Under his guidance, Bologna has solidified its position as a mid-table club that could compete for a top-half finish in the upcoming season.
9) Vincenzo Italiano, Fiorentina
Italiano achieved the impossible last season by not only keeping tiny Spezia afloat, but by leading the club to a fifteenth-place finish. His work was rewarded with a two-year deal with Fiorentina after the Florence club had a falling out with Gennaro Gattuso. La Viola’s supporters will have high expectations for Italiano, who should be aided by an influx of cash from the likely sale of Dusan Vlahovic.
8) Simone Inzaghi, Internazionale
In five seasons at Lazio. Inzaghi won 134 league matches and the 2020 Coppa Italia. Under his watch the Romans consistently qualified for Europe, though the club finished in a Champions League position just once and overly relied on Ciro Immobile’s immense goalscoring output. Inzaghi’s consistent results resulted in his hiring at Inter for the upcoming season, putting the 45-year-old in the unenviable position of following Antonio Conte’s title-winning campaign.
7) Ivan Juric, Torino
After winning the playoff with fifth-placed Hellas Verona in the second division, Juric shocked Italian top flight by finishing ninth in 2019/20. His third season in Venetia saw the club sustain its success and led to the Croatian being offered the Torino job. Juric will have to succeed where Marco Giampaolo and others failed: by creating a balanced Torino attack that does not solely rely on Andrea Belotti.
6) Luciano Spalletti, Napoli
A longtime Serie A coach, Spalletti oversaw a highly successful Roma side in the mid-2000s. Despite his fantastic resume that includes a stint at Inter, the 62-year-old has not been on the touchline for two years and will be under significant pressure to finish in a Champions League position. Spalletti will inherit a stacked roster that includes Victor Osimhen, Roberto Insigne and Hector Lozano and will have no excuses for a lackluster season.
5) Stefano Pioli, AC Milan
Pioli has had many ups and downs since taking over in 2019, but he ultimately created a strong team culture and identity, and now has a second-place finish to validate his process. Now backed by a core of talented young players, Pioli has the roster to again compete for a Scudetto and make a run in the Champions League.
Ac Milan last friendlies— Adansi Bonna Frederick (@adansi_bonna) July 30, 2021
Stefano Pioli has tried some various structure systems, to make his team unpredictable during the match: from 4-2-3-1 to 3-4-2-1 with all the elements in a constant movement. pic.twitter.com/7mqrSPHDn1
4) Maurizio Sarri, Lazio
After a year off, Sarri is back in the Serie A with Lazio, replacing Simone Inzaghi. The oldest ever coach to win the Serie A, Sarri brings an impressive resume and is a highly regarded tactician. Lazio should improve under his watch and have already supplemented their roster with the additions of Elseid Hysaj and Felipe Anderson.
3) Jose Mourinho, Roma
Roma’s hiring of the Special One was by far the most shocking and polarizing of the offseason. Infamous for his vast list of accomplishments and his many controversies, the Portuguese manager has won three of the top 5 European leagues, but his last two stops in England have yielded less than impressive results. It remains to be seen how well Mourinho will fit with a talented Roma squad, but this is the sort of hire that will be either a massive success or a dramatic failure.
2) Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta
Possibly the best tactical coach in the top flight, Gian Piero Gasperini is well-known for masterminding Atalanta’s high-flying attack. The 63-year-old has transformed La Dea from a low-to-mid table club into a perennial title contender with three consecutive third-place finishes. Gasperini has done a fantastic job acquiring and developing offensive talent, allowing the club to sell players like Musa Barrow and Andreas Cornelius without seeing a drop in form.
1) Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus
With Antonio Conte’s shock departure at the end of the season, there was really no other option for the top spot, as Allegri’s reputation speaks for itself. The Juventus manager has won five Scudettos, four Coppa Italias and twice finished second in the Champions League. Allegri will look to reinvigorate the Bianconeri after an atrocious season under Andrea Pirlo. However, the Italian giants must overcome an aging squad and improving competition from Milan, Inter and Atalanta to reclaim the title of the best team in Italy.