Twenty-seven long days. Since Giovanni Stroppa cleared out his desk at Pescara on November 18, Serie A had gone almost a month without waving goodbye to another tactician. And this is despite clubs owned by Maurizio Zamparini, Massimo Cellino and Enrico Preziosi all struggling. But like an itch that had to be scratched, one club acted. Siena bit the bullet, sending Serse Cosmi packing just over a week before he could eat his panettone.
In a League where two losses constitute a crisis, Siena had already overstepped that mark. Consecutive 3-1 home reverses to Roma and Catania were followed by a Tuscan Derby thumping, with Fiorentina cruising to a 4-1 victory. That heavy defeat confirmed the Robur’s position at the foot of the Serie A table. After 17 games they are four points from safety. But the situation is not as black and white as that.
Cosmi walked into a difficult situation this season. Siena’s typical aim to avoid relegation was compounded by the six point deduction received for their part in the betting scandal which has engulfed calcio the past two summers. Deduction included, they have amassed 11 points. Take away that penalty – which Cosmi could hardly be blamed for – and Siena would sit 15th, three points clear of the drop zone.
Just before the form slump which cost the eccentric Cosmi, his side was praised for their results. Eight points gained in four matches, all the while not conceding a goal, had thrown the Tuscans right into the mix. They did as would be hoped by defeating those around them – Genoa and Pescara – while claiming away draws at mid-table Parma and Chievo. Siena would then come up against two European contenders and the dangerous Sicilians.
The club may have been worried by Cosmi’s recent record. As President Massimo Mezzaroma alluded to, they believe the squad is equipped to survive.“I took the decision to change Coach after the defeat in Florence because I firmly believe in my players and our chances of staying up.”
Since hitting the heights at Perugia in the early 2000s Cosmi has found the going tough. He was unable to save Livorno in 2009-10, nor could Lecce avoid the drop last term under his leadership. But on both occasions he was asked to save ailing teams mid-season. And the question must be asked whether Siena have made much of an upgrade in appointing Giuseppe Iachini. In headwear at least, probably not. Out goes the dapper Cosmi flat cap, in comes the Iachini baseball cap.
Iachini succeeded in guiding Sampdoria from a stuttering Serie B campaign to the playoffs and, ultimately, the top flight last term. That he wasn’t retained speaks volumes. When given an opportunity in Serie A – at Chievo in 2008-09 and Brescia two seasons later – Iachini failed to welcome the New Year at either club.
The tactician says he can only do his best. “I’m accustomed to doing my talking on the pitch. I’ll give the maximum and all of my enthusiasm in order to achieve safety. I thank the club for their faith in me. We’ll look to add a building block to our survival plans on a daily basis.”
Iachini doesn’t have an easy start to life at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. They welcome a Napoli side smarting from a shock defeat and stung by the midweek verdicts. Siena then open 2013 with a trip to in-form Milan. Talk about a baptism of fire for Iachini. What will the hierarchy think if the rot continues? Meanwhile, Cosmi will have to hang up his cap for now and settle for panettone at home.