Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Marcello lippi

Born in Viareggio in 1948, Marcello Romeo Lippi began coaching in 1982 after an exceptionally modest outfield career as a centre-back. He played for only three teams, Sampdoria, Savona and Pistoiese, and retired at the age of 34. With Samp and Pistoiese Lippi gained a Serie A footballing experience, indeed he was part of the set up in which Pistoiese played their only year of top flight football, in 1980-81. Nevertheless, after his mediocre playing career he moved into club management.

His coaching career took flight with the Blucerchiati youth team in 1982, following 11 years service as a player with the Genoese outfit. His loyalty to Sampdoria was obviously rewarded as they gave him his first break in management until he then moved on to Pontedera. From 1985 until 1989 the cigar chomping tactician frequently changed hotseats around Italy’s lower divisions. In total he coached a further four clubs after his stint at Sampdoria, until he got his big break at Cesena in 1989.

Here he received recognition, guiding them to 12th place in Italy’s premier division, then the following season they were demoted back to Serie B and by 1991, a 43-year-old Marcello Lippi moved on in his career.

Turning a page

After stints in the early 90s with were in a financial crisis, and turned to the upcoming tactician in the hope that he could restore order. In a nutshell, Napoli’s glory years in the late 1980s when Diego Maradona, Ciro Ferrara and Salvatore Bagni graced the Stadio San Paulo were bygone days.

In his only season at Napoli (1993-94), against the odds, he earned the Partenopei a spot in the UEFA Cup. This was the beginning that signaled a promising furture for the Tuscan master.

Marcello did not actually take part in the UEFA Cup campaign the following year as he moved on to new pastures. Juventus courted him, and it was a move which was obviously too good to refuse.

The seductive Old Lady

Probably Marcello Lippi’s most memorbale years at a club were in Turin between 1994 and 99. The image of the silky haired, calm and collected smoker, huddled up in the corner of the shelter at the Delle Alpi, with a cigar dangling from his mouth is one we’ll never forget.

His Juventus side became the masters of Italian calcio. He dominated Serie A for the remainder of the decade winning three Scudetti (1995, 1997, 1998), one Coppa Italia (1995) and a couple of Supercoppa Italianas (1995, 1997). Even on the European frontier he entered his finest hour in domestic football winning the UEFA Champions League in 1996 against Ajax on penalties, and then a year later he was second best in this club competition, losing out to Borussia Dortmund.

Nonetheless, in this stint at Juventus, Lippi established himself as one of the finest coaches in European football, winning domestic and European titles. Yet by the turn of the century Lippi was once again on the move to Internazionale in 1999.

Beaten black and blue…

With Nerazzurri, Lippi’s reign only lasted for one season. On the first matchday of the 2000-01 campaign (beginning of his second year), he was fired. A miserable stint came to an abrupt end in the world’s fashion capital with Lippi’s side finishing runners up in the Coppa Italia and finishing fourth in Serie A, 13 points behind his beloved Bianconeri.

Criticism of Lippi’s tactics, choice of players and the fact that he was managing Internazionale after moving from the enemy Juventus, was enough to seal his fate after 12 months. Indeed, despite his unpopularity he still managed a runners-up medal plus a spot four places higher in the Scudetto race then his predecessor Luigi Simoni.

At Inter it appears that Lippi received undue criticism. Prior to Lippi’s installment, in the years form 1994 until Lippi’s arrival (1999), President Massimo Moratti accumulated a total of nine sackings, and it appeared only a matter of time until Lippi was pushed into the same boat. These were definitive crisis years at Inter, and Moratti demanded immediate success, unfortunately Lippi did not deliver in his first season and was shown the door.

Love affair

Again Lippi became head coach at Juventus, his second spell which lasted three years (2001-2004). History also began to repeat itself for the coach as it was once again a highly successful spell. After the disappointment at Inter, Lippi recovered and in his period back in Turin he added two Scudetti, a UEFA Champions League runners-up medal and two Supercoppa Italianas to his trophy cabinet. This dismissed criticism that claimed Lippi’s reign as a coach was prematurely over.

Unfortunately he had to swallow the bitter taste of losing another UEFA Champions League final, in Manchester, against AC Milan in 2003. Nonetheless, they lost on the lottery of penalties and Lippi’s boys headed back to Italy with their heads held high.

Undoubtedly in Lippi’s career he has stuck to his game-plan and his rigid tactics. Along the way he has deployed a strong ethic of man management, a leader who is also “one of the lads”. Close relationships forged with figures such as Antonio Conte, Ciro Ferrara, Alex Del Piero and Gianluca Zambrotta enabled a degree of high success, and this continued when he bossed the Azzurri, commencing in 2004.

Campione del mondo

The suave tactician took charge of his beloved Italy in July 2004. His appointment came about after Giovanni Trappatoni’s failure at World Cup 2002 and Euro 2004.

Marcello got off to a flying start in his new job, and indeed won a relatively easy qualifying group, the main challengers being Norway and Scotland. Nonetheless, Lippi duly delivered, winning 76% of his qualifying matches and finishing top of Group Five with 23 points in 10 games, and losing only once in Slovenia.

Due to the “Calciopoli” scandal brewing back at home, the Italians turned up at the World Cup in Germany with relatively low expectations, as players were believed to be more worried about their future security at their clubs (Juventus’ eventual demotion, Lazio and Milan’s penalization etc). However, this masterful tactician managed to turn despair into victory and the Italians did not lose a game the whole tournament, and on the July 9, 2006 the Italians were crowned world champions for the fourth time.

Now, Lippi is Italian National Team " allenatore " for Worldcup 2010 South Africa.