Italian teams put faith in youthful coaches
Antonio Conte at just 41 years of age is the new coach of Turin giants Juventus proving once again that in Italian coaching circles, youth is best.
While in England, at least, it would be unthinkable for one of the country's top teams to hire such an unproven coach, in Italy it is rapidly becoming the norm. It is not that Italy has a dearth of top drawer coaches with ample experience, quite the contrary in fact.
But for reasons economic and otherwise, the general trend is increasingly seeing teams plump for younger, cheaper coaches rather than fork out for the best in the business. And Conte is just the latest example. He initially started his coaching career in 2006 at Serie B Arezzo just five years ago and since has won two Serie B titles and now he's landed one of the top jobs in Italy.
An English coach of comparable stature taking over from Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea this summer would lie in the realms of fantasy. And yet in Italy it seems to be the rule more than the exception, and not in any old Serie A club, this is at the biggest clubs.
Two years ago when Juve fired Claudio Ranieri two games before the end of the 2008/09 season, they replaced him with youth team coach Ciro Ferrara. Ferrara had worked in coaching and had even worked with Marcello Lippi on the Italian national team but he had no first team experience, let alone in the top flight.
When Ranieri, having initially enjoyed much success, left Roma at the end of February, the club also promoted their youth team coach Vincenzo Montella, another without a day of first team experience. When Ancelotti left Milan at the end of the 2009 season to join Chelsea, novice Leonardo was moved from a role in the management to first team coach, again with no experience.
Ferrara lasted less than a season as despite starting with six straight victories, his Juve tenure soon turned sour. Leonardo was given a whole season before Milan decided he didn't have what it takes. As for Montella, it is widely understood that his Roma career will end at three months. None of these coaches could complain about being treated unfairly.
Ferrara took a team that was in the top three under Ranieri to struggling for a UEFA Europa League finish. Montella failed to turn around Roma's stuttering season and missed out on the UEFA Champions League. Leonardo couldn't challenge the might of Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan, nor could he make an impression on Europe where Manchester United humiliated his team 7-2 on aggregate.
Going further back Milan took coach Arrigo Sacchi from Parma after which he created one of the best team's in the club's history. And Massimiliano Allegri, having had a mere two years experience in Serie A with Cagliari, won the Scudetto title at his first attempt with Milan.
With the Italian coaching A-list in high-paid and prestigious jobs including Fabio Capello as England coach and Giovanni Trapattoni at Republic of Ireland, one could say the Italian teams don't have much choice. And so Conte joins a growing band of young, inexperienced coaches being entrusted with the biggest jobs out there.
Italian teams may not be setting the world alight, but working in Italy has never been a more attractive option for young untried coaches.