With less than two weeks until the start of the 2021/22 campaign, Serie A has already seen twelve out of its twenty clubs make coaching changes this summer. Serie A will look quite different than it did last season. Genoa, Udinese, Cagliari, Bologna, Milan, Atalanta, Venezia, and Salernitana are the only clubs that have continued with their coach from last season.
In comparison to last season, Italy’s top-flight looks like a more competitive and better-coached league. The most notable returns include Jose Mourinho, Max Allegri, and Maurizio Sarri, all of which will be looking to find success with their teams from the get-go.
Here’s an in-depth look at every coach in the league, ranked best to worse:
20) Thiago Motta (Spezia)
The former PSG midfielder lasted only ten matches for Genoa in the 2019 season before being sacked. On top of the challenge that comes with replacing Vincenzo Italiano, who avoided relegation last year, Spezia has one of the least-talented squads in the league. All signs point towards a relegation for Spezia and the sacking of Motta before the season finishes.
19) Roberto D’Aversa (Sampdoria)
After a successful 4-year stint with Parma that saw D’Aversa take the Duncali from Serie C to Serie A, he was rehired in 2021 but won only 1 out of 23 matches. He was inevitably relieved of his position after dragging his side down to relegation. With D’Aversa at the helm, Sampdoria could become an unexpected relegation contender.
18) Aurelio Andreazzoli (Empoli)
Andreazzoli returns to Empoli for his third stint at the club after Alessio Dionisi left for Sassuolo. The veteran manager has worked as an assistant for Zdenek Zeman and Luis Enrique, however, in his last Serie A spell, he lasted a mere nine games before being let go by Genoa.
17) Paolo Zanetti (Venezia)
Venezia’s manager will face a massive challenge after unexpectedly winning the Serie B playoffs last season. Zanetti retired from professional football only six years ago, however, he will be looking to surprise the league and keep the Lagunari clear of relegation.
16) Fabrizio Castori (Salernitana)
Salernitana returns to Serie A after 23 seasons after their second-place finish in Serie B last season. Although he has over 40 years of managerial experience, Castori is faced with a tough task of keeping his side from relegation this season.
15) Davide Ballardini (Genoa)
Although Ballardini has never stayed at a club for more than a year, he helped Genoa to an 11th-placed finish last season. He will find consistency early on in the season if he wants to keep his position beyond this season.
14) Eusebio Di Francesco (Hellas Verona)
Hellas Verona overachieved in their two seasons under Ivan Juric, and it seems unlikely that Di Francesco will be able to match this success. He may have had past success with Sassuolo and Roma, but his recent struggles in Cagliari and Sampdoria point to a lacklustre season for the Gialloblu.
13) Luca Gotti (Udinese)
Gotti, known for his defensive style of football, has underachieved with Udinese in the last two seasons. Despite last year’s attacking trio of Rodrigo De Paul, Kevin Lasagna and Stefano Okaka, Gotti’s team struggled to score in most matches. The loss of Rodrigo De Paul will add to the pressure that Gotti will face this season in improving Udinese’s offence.
12) Alessio Dionisi (Sassuolo)
After winning the Serie B championship with Empoli, Dionisi is faced with a difficult challenge in taking over for Roberto De Zerbi. Dionisi may not have any Serie A experience, but the 41-year-old is a young and fast-rising manager who will have a talented squad at his disposal. Expect a top-half finish for Dionisi’s side.
11) Leonardo Semplici (Cagliari)
After his appointment in February, Semplici saved Cagliari from relegation and finished fourteenth, winning 6 out of 15 matches. The Sardinians have had a strong transfer window and should rebound from last year’s disappointing season.
10) Sinisa Mihajlovic (Bologna)
This will be Mihajlovic’s third year as Bologna’s coach and he has done a fantastic job in developing his team’s younger players and helping the Rossoblù become an attacking threat. Similar to Gasperini’s Atalanta, Mihajlovic has helped Bologna become a mid-table club that could compete for a top-half finish in the next coming years.
9) Vincenzo Italiano (Fiorentina)
Italiano guided Spezia to an unlikely fifteenth place finish last season when most thought his team would finish last. He joined Fiorentina after the club fell out with Gennaro Gattuso. The expectations for Italiano will be high, but he will have a talented squad and an influx of cash that could help him end La Viola’s recent struggles.
8) Ivan Juric (Torino)
The Croatian joins Torino after a phenomenal 3-year spell as Hellas Verona’s coach, where he took the club from Serie B to a ninth-place finish in 2019/20. Juric will have to start from scratch with Torino. His biggest challenge will be creating a balanced attack that does not rely entirely on striker Andrea Belotti.
7) Simone Inzaghi (Inter Milan)
After the unexpected departure of Antonio Conte, Inter was quick to secure Inzaghi as their coach. During his five seasons at Lazio, he won 134 league matches and the 2020 Coppa Italia. The club only finished in a Champions League position once, which can be accredited to the team overly relying on Ciro Immobile for goals. Considering the losses of Conte, Romelu Lukaku, and Achraf Hakimi, the Nerazzurri should be satisfied with a top-four finish this season.
6) Luciano Spalletti (Napoli)
The 62-year-old has not coached since 2017, however, he is one of the most experienced coaches in the league. His most notable achievement was overseeing a very successful Roma team during the mid-2000s. Spalletti will face significant pressure to secure Champions League qualification and he may be able to do so with the talented Napoli squad at his disposal. With the likes of Victor Osimhen, Lorenzo Insigne and Kalidou Koulibaly, Spalletti will have no excuses if he cannot find consistency with Napoli this season.
5) Stefano Pioli (AC Milan)
Although Milan finished 2nd last season, their season was full of ups and downs. Because of Pioli, the Rossoneri finally have a team identity after many years of failure. Milan may have been the highest-spending club in Serie A during the summer transfer window, but most of these funds went towards keeping loan players from last season. Similar to last season, Milan lack the depth and star talent to compete for the Scudetto and make a run in the UCL. Milanisti may have high hopes for this season after a second-place finish last year, but they should be satisfied with a top-four finish considering the competitiveness of Serie A this year.
4) Jose Mourinho (Roma)
Mourinho’s appointment has been the most shocking coaching change of the offseason. The Portuguese manager has had previous success in Italy, having won the treble with Inter 2010. However, his last two jobs in England both resulted in mediocre results. He will be provided with a talented Roma squad and it seems as though Mourinho will either massively succeed or fail during his first year at the club.
3) Maurizio Sarri (Lazio)
Sarri is back in Serie A after a year off from coaching. He brings an impressive resume and would most likely be the coach that could take Lazio from being regular Europa League participants to top-four contenders. The Roman club has strengthened their squad this summer and should take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the other clubs and solidify Champions League qualification.
2) Gian Piero Gasperini (Atalanta)
Arguably the best tactical coach in Italy, Gasperini is known for his highly-attacking football philosophy. During his 5 years at the club, the 63-year-old has taken La Dea from a low table club into a title contender with three consecutive third-place finishes. The Italian has also done a fantastic job in developing young talents, allowing the club to sell many of its best youth players without seeing a drop in form.
1) Massimiliano Allegri (Juventus)
Allegri returns to Juventus having won five Scudettos, four Coppa Italias and twice finished second in the Champions League. He will need to rejuvenate the Bianconeri after a horrendous season under Andrea Pirlo. The Italian will have to overcome an ageing squad and a more competitive league, yet his Juventus squad has the talent and hunger to reclaim the Scudetto.