Delio Rossi claims Adem Ljajic attacked him in the locker room and is representative of “a generation of over-privileged, unprofessional boys.”
The Coach was fired by Fiorentina on Wednesday evening after he physically attacked Ljajic in an astounding dugout brawl (video), earning him a three-month ban.
“Is my career over? I am considering it and asking myself a thousand questions,” he told Il Giornale newspaper.
“I feel like I am a Coach who is only being borrowed by professional football. Nowadays tactics are the least of my problems. You need to spend most of your time keeping the squad under control and dealing with a generation who don’t have a great sense of being professional.
“They are 20 years old and turn up to training sessions with luxury cars, then you can only talk to them through their agents, while sometimes you find them eating chocolate during the half-time break. It’s not just Ljajic, but a generation of over-privileged boys.”
This could well be a jab at Ljajic, as former Fiorentina Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic famously complained the young Serb was “addicted to chocolate and his computer.”
Rossi had initially refused to reveal details of what sparked their brawl, but is now open to explaining the whole situation at Fiorentina.
“Ljajic has never apologised to me for what he said. In fact, after the Novara game I went into the locker room to tell off my squad for being an arrogant bunch who risked throwing away the match.
“Then I went over to Ljajic and told him he must never again dare to speak to me that way and behave the way he did. He was anything but contrite. In fact, he tried to attack me.
“What did he say when substituted? He showed a lack of respect to me and my family. It wasn’t just a one-off curse either, he reiterated the insults.
“Do you know how many Serbian players I’ve worked with between Lecce, Palermo and Lazio? I often had to dialogue with them in their language to make myself understood.”
Rossi has apologised for his actions, but also slammed those who rushed to condemn him outright.
“Have I ruined the image of Italian football? What about those who sold games for betting syndicates? The footage from Wednesday has gone round the world and now I am a monster, so everyone wants to build the usual show around me. This is football now, but it is not my football.
“I was particularly disheartened by those who said if I had reacted the way I did inside the locker room rather than on the touchline, then it would’ve been better. Is it not the same gesture? In fact, some reactions are understandable in the heat of the moment, whereas afterwards they would be pre-meditated and therefore worse.
“I trained a team of factory workers, builders and farmers near Foggia. Four days a week, three times a day, without heating so we had to use the hairdryer to keep warm in the locker room. I’d like to talk to Ljajic and his colleagues about that.”
Rossi added there are other players he had problems with in his career, namely Javier Ernesto Chevanton at Lecce.
“He was a born contrarian. I decided to do some running and he wanted to play a game between ranks, or I opted for a game and he wanted to run. It was a daily challenge. He knew he was the best in the team, but he was a rebel off the field.
“One night I was informed by a Vice-President that three first team players were spotted in a disco at 2am, one of them was even behind the till handing out tickets. So I phoned the vice-captain and asked if he still wanted me to pick these teammates and risk relegation or leave them out to set an example?
“Chevanton replied: ‘the Vice-President was wrong to tell me to go home, as he embarrassed me in front of everyone.’ I ask you, how can you deal with people like that?”
Rossi was asked what he will do for the rest of the season and possibly beyond.
“I’ll do what I haven’t been able to because of football – pay my bills, do some housework, look after my family.”