Wednesday December 4 2013
Does the Doctor have Lazio’s cure?

Vladimir Petkovic’s Lazio have struggled to make their mark this season. Meanwhile, rumours persist the Coach will not continue in Rome past next June. Luca Cetta writes.

Vladimir Petkovic was on top of the Eternal City on May 26. When Lazio and Roma clashed in the Coppa Italia Final, it was the blue half of Rome celebrating wildly. The Bosnian will be forever remembered for that unique triumph.

It proved the culmination of a fine debut season. Petkovic arrived at Lazio in June 2012 noted for an attacking reputation. He made an instant impact in Serie A on and off the pitch. The Biancocelesti were Champions League contenders for two thirds of the season – placed as high as second, and in third spot until Round 27. Lazio fought on three fronts – also making the Europa League last eight – with a limited squad. Petkovic was noted for his gentlemanly conduct, a genuine good guy in what can be a murky world.

Come this August though, and the 4-0 Super Cup drubbing against Juventus set the tone. Currently ninth, the capital side have just four wins to their name and are 10 points from the European zone. Continental football has offered a reprieve, with Europa League knockout qualification assured with one match to spare.

Talk surrounding Petkovic of late has been all to do with his future.“You have all talked about my future enough, I will not get anyone into the headlines,” he commented last week. “I certainly have a contract until June and am concentrated only on Lazio.”

Director Igli Tare believes his expiring deal is the cause of the drama. “These rumours are emerging just because his contract is up and it’s normal in these cases for there to be speculation. We don’t go forward with ifs and buts. We have a contract with our Coach and I don’t want to get drawn into speculation.”

Possible replacements have already been speculated. Devis Mangia has been linked with the capital post should a split occur and has responded enthusiastically to a prospective move.

It appears should Petkovic leave, Switzerland’s national team is a potential destination. Current tactician Ottmar Hitzfeld will leave after the World Cup and Petkovic is on the radar. The 50-year-old is no stranger to the country, having played and coached there over a number of years.

For President Claudio Lotito it’s a non-issue. “I don’t know anything about this story. Nothing has been put forward officially.”Lotito has stuck by the multi-lingual tactician even when his future has been called into question, a point he was quick to raise.

So how could the Doctor go from hero to almost zero? Defeat against Napoli means Lazio have won just once in nine League matches. Their quartet of wins have come against sides near the foot of the table, Udinese the highest positioned in 13th. While Petkovic insisted his side deserved more from Monday’s contest, angry fans made their feelings known after the final whistle.

Lazio added to the squad in the summer by signing Lucas Biglia and Felipe Anderson, but fighting on three fronts remains an issue. After defeat to Genoa, Petkovic made note of coming through a period of playing every few days, hinting at depth concerns and the strain a Europa League campaign has on the club.

Especially when losing the likes of Miroslav Klose, amongst others, to injury. The Biancocelesti do not have a reliable replacement for the German. Youngster Brayan Perea is talented, but generally untested. It’s a different Aquile without Klose. A problem that may have been alleviated by netting Burak Yilmaz in August, but as it stands they’ve scored just 19 goals this term. Antonio Candreva is the leading marksman with four. Nor have they got the best out of key players Hernanes and Federico Marchetti.

Petkovic insists the situation is not as bleak as has been made out. Indeed the season has seen some positives, such as the emergence of Keita Balde, the continued improvement of Ogenyi Onazi and their European results.

Lazio need to draw on playing with character and joy – elements according to Petkovic present in their Europa League victory at Legia Warsaw – to get out of this rut. Before Christmas they face tricky trips to Torino and Verona, as well as host Livorno and Trabzonspor.

A good run heading into the break is just what Lazio need. In the demanding environment of the capital, fans are already losing patience. Petkovic was lauded in May, but it’s clear that what happened six months ago may as well be a lifetime ago in the fickle world of Italian football.

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Have your say...
Last season the signs were there that the Aquile needed strengthening in defence and attack with their midfield extremely strong. So where did they strengthen? Midfield. There is no pace in the squad, no reliable backup and, in Michael Ciani, one of the worst defenders in Serie A. And no Klose equals no attack as the article points out. The last ditch attempts to sign a striker were laughable. Petkovic has been far from fautless but he was badly let down by the clubs transfer policy this summer.
on the 7th December, 2013 at 6:16am
The Basel Coach has been linked with the job, Lazio need to spend some money at least on some proven players...people say they have no money? are you sure? they spent 20 million on ZARATE!! also pay Klose 4/5 million a year...bought the waste of space Biglia for 8 million...Lolito is just tight and when he spends a little thinking its a good deal it proves to be a mistake, only good deals he has ever done is Marchetti, Klose and Candreva,
on the 6th December, 2013 at 11:19am
I've said this before, but aside from a few players, Lazio have a very workman-like squad. Petkovic really over-achieved last season, & now expectations are unrealistic. IMO, there are approx 6-10 more talented squads in seria a. It would be a huge mistake to let Petkovic go. He is a quality coach & I cannot see how anyone else could do better.
on the 6th December, 2013 at 10:06am
From Seria b theirs some promising Italian centre backs they can pickup on the cheap. I strongly believe they have a great coaching staff being, defense and attack.
on the 6th December, 2013 at 4:01am
Lazio is still in improving squad, they have bought in young players but they do need some serious centre back
on the 5th December, 2013 at 11:49pm
I'm gonna try to explain the situation of ss lazio lack of centre back Because The Michael Ciani and Lorik Cana are
not good enough to cover of their place This is a very subtle example, So ssLazio Really Need a new Centre Back
on the 5th December, 2013 at 1:58pm
DiMatteo as coach anyone, he'd be great for this team.
on the 5th December, 2013 at 1:38pm
Edy Reja back would do......I was being realistic in saying players like Zaccardo as like you said we have no not much cash and he is not playing much....would you have preferred me to say Dani Alves?? I never said Klose was pretending just said he is always injured but will be 100% for the world cup and I will be proved correct come next June.7th is not good when two years ago we were 4th I was just saying we should have moved forward not back Lolito is mainly to blame lack of ambition,
on the 5th December, 2013 at 11:13am
@ Mr Lazio

So you're saying Klose is pretending to be injured, is that it? And you want the manager out too? And get who in? Lazio have no money, so whoever they get in is unlikely to do anymore with this average squad than Petkovic has done.

7th place, cup win and last 8 in Europa was an overachievement for this squad.

And then you want to cure the problems by signing Milan reserves?! Zaccardo?!
on the 5th December, 2013 at 12:14am
Something is definitely wrong in the defence dept, the midfield is fine but some extreme acquisitions are needed in january its a must. 3 players need to go and 4 defence need to be added along with a winger that can play wide. (Biabiany anyone, Menez also or ranocchia might be on the sales block, just a suggestion.)
on the 4th December, 2013 at 11:58pm
I agree with you Mr.Lazio they need change badly with some transfers preferably Noce, Diamanti and Pazzini would be nice.also Kovacic is up for a loan this January he looks promising and Motta from juventus also if the price is right.
on the 4th December, 2013 at 10:59pm
"Petkovic was lauded in May, but it’s clear that what happened six months ago may as well be a lifetime ago in the fickle world of Italian football." - well said.
on the 4th December, 2013 at 6:12pm
I feel sorry for defence Ciani and Cana are as much use as chocolate tea pot...! If we want to save our season Lolto should buy some players...zaccardo, Norcerino, Pazzini maybe if available...lets get some Italian players not 2nd rate Albanian players......try sign Diamanti or something HAVE SOME AMBITION!! the Coppa victory last season just masked the average season 7th place!! Bad management has cost us. ALSO CAN WE HAVE A NEW FITNESS COACH AND DOCTOR!
on the 4th December, 2013 at 4:50pm
Can not believe he is still in the job!! Can not believe Lolito and Tare think they are building a team in his words to take us to the champions league!! Only place we are going is Serie B!! quote
Lazio added to the squad in the summer by signing Lucas Biglia and Felipe Anderson.....Wow Bigla is the invisible man!
Problem is we never went forward when we had done good business in 2010/11..just got worse...Klose can do one always injured bet heis fit for World cup tho..shock..
on the 4th December, 2013 at 4:44pm

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