Lazio President Claudio Lotito thinks Vladimir Petkovic “was trying to get himself fired” and “lied” about the Switzerland job.
The club controversially sacked Petkovic for breach of contract on Saturday, something his lawyers are fiercely contesting, and appointed Edy Reja.
“You never stop getting to know people,” said Lotito in today’s fiery Press conference.
“I respect what people say to me and am accustomed to hearing the truth. When some urged me to change Coach because there were rumours about the Swiss Federation, Petkovic told me it was all invented by the media.
“Why shouldn’t I have believed what my Coach said? At the time, I made my decision to keep him based on the principles and values that proved to be empty. With time, I realised things I had not recognised before.”
Petkovic’s contract with the Biancocelesti was due to expire in June and on December 23 it was announced he had signed to take over the Swiss national team from July.
Although the Swiss tactician won the Coppa Italia by beating Roma in May’s Final, Lotito glossed over that triumph.
“I don’t feel that I let Petkovic down at all, as in fact I supported him during difficult moments. The club offered him a contract extension, which he declined. I was surprised.
“From January 2013 to now, the performances were disastrous. I worked very hard to support him and if I hadn’t intervened then perhaps we wouldn’t even have achieved those results. There was a situation of respect, but not of satisfaction.
“I supported Petkovic because I considered him to be a person of merit. The facts then changed my evaluation. He said things that were not true and I realised he was exclusively following his own interests.
“A Coach is not just any employee, but someone I give the club to. I never sacked anyone, as Davide Ballardini went by his own request, as did Delio Rossi and Reja. Not everyone has my patience.”
Lazio’s last game with Petkovic in charge was a defeat to Hellas Verona in December.
“Before Verona Petkovic had already emptied out his locker. He knew he was going, but I hadn’t said anything. I only contacted him at the end and was always fair. I want respect for the rules.
“I spoke to the squad for days, then on the pitch saw bizarre tactical systems. I don’t know if he was trying to get himself fired.”