After spending almost an year on the outskirt of the football world, Giampiero Ventura has made his way back to Serie A. Chievo’s terrible start of the season saw the club replace Lorenzo D’Anna with Italy’s public enemy number one, a decision which has raised a few eyebrows even before Ventura’s official debut for the club.
The appointment of the ex-Azzurri tactician is certainly an unspectacular one, but the Chievo board hope it might turn out to be a rather rational choice. Finding a coach of Ventura’s experience is not an easy task, as he has coached 16 other clubs in Italy and has achieved his best results at smaller clubs, where the expectations are not as high as the national team.
Without disrespecting Chievo, a club of their stature is the perfect, if not the only, chance for redemption for Ventura, who despite being labelled as one of the worst CTs in La Nazionale’s history, is not a bad tactician at all. Ventura’s work at Torino, where he managed to transform the Granata from a team struggling to keep their elite status to a Europa League participant, was simply outstanding.
The two consecutive promotions that he achieved at Lecce from Serie C to Serie A in the mid-90s, as well as the way he managed to climb back to Italy’s top tier with Cagliari in 1997-98, also highlight the tactician’s ability.
However, despite his respectable achievements throughout the years, Chievo’s choice still looks very bizarre, especially considering Ventura’s record when fighting against relegation, which is undoubtedly the goal of the Veronese outfit this term.
The new Chievo tactician failed to avoid relegation to Serie B in two consecutive seasons with Messina and Verona in both 2005 and 2006, while the impressive Bari team that he inherited from Antonio Conte in 2009 was relegated the year after, which resulted in Ventura’s sacking mid-season.
The good impression that Ventura left with Torino and some of the results that he achieved throughout the years show that the Genoa-born coach is not a terrible tactician. He just wasn’t worthy of a place on Italy’s bench.
We all know what this resulted in and while elimination against Sweden was one of the lowest points of Azzurri’s recent history, what was arguably even more humiliating was Ventura’s attempt to find cheap excuses for his shortcomings.
The way he blamed the federation, the young players, and even the more experienced heads in the team, claiming they were conspiring against him, was simply outrageous and made his shaky reputation even worse at the time. Ventura’s stubbornness and refusal to admit his mistakes resulted in cheap attempts to put the blame on everybody else, but him.
"What can I do about it? Unfortunately that is how it went. My record is one of the best in past 40 years, I only lost 2 matches". That’s what Ventura said right after the World Cup play-off exit and he kept ruining the players and the team’s image even further in the following months, by continuing to develop his conspiracy theory.
The end result was a complete destruction of the credibility of the federation, lack of faith in the dedication of the players, as well as the retirement of some of the pillars of team, as Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Daniele De Rossi and Giorgio Chiellini all ended their international careers at the time. Chiellini took a U-turn a few months later after Roberto Mancini’s appointment, but the pride and reputation of La Nazionale would need much more time.
There were no winners after Ventura’s reign at the helm of Italy and while the career of a coach can not be judged on his performance in a single season or game, his failure and the actions that followed arguably made him the biggest loser in the situation.
Currently 70-years-old, Ventura’s actions made him look like a sour old man and his previous inability to avoid relegation on at several clubs, make his chances to succeed in Chievo very slim. However, even if somehow, he manages to beat the odds and proves everyone wrong, it already seems to be too late for redemption.