x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Mancini's exit from Manchester City has stirred up Serie A clubs coaches

Dismissal from Manchester City may trigger a shuffle among Italy's coaches, writes Ian Hawkey.

If Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri leaves it could create a space for Roberto Mancini. Roberto Salomone / AFP
If Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri leaves it could create a space for Roberto Mancini. Roberto Salomone / AFP

In Italy, they call periods like this, "hot-bench" time. It means restlessness among coaches, either fearful of dismissal or harbouring ambitions to advance their careers elsewhere.

Never mind that there are long phases in Serie A where almost every manager's seat appears scalding, and certain club presidents seem to have installed a permanent Bunsen burner beneath the coach's chair, "hot-bench" time is a useful description of anticipated managerial merry-go-rounds.

As soon as Roberto Mancini's departure from Manchester City was confirmed Monday, the heat rose a notch.

Mancini's achievements with Inter Milan (three titles) and Fiorentina and Lazio (a Coppa Italia each) are respected enough that, whatever his failings in the last 12 months at City, he has cachet in Serie A.

He also has a wife from Naples, which in hot-bench season is reason enough to style him a potential candidate for Napoli, should Walter Mazzarri leave at the end of the season.

Mazzarri, who has taken Napoli to runners-up spot, has an urge to test himself elsewhere, and no shortage of self-belief that he would thrive at any big-budget employer.

Mazzarri sees plenty of warm benches around, like Roma, who are under the caretaker guidance of Andrea Andreazzoli. Even Inter Milan, where the temperature under Andrea Stramaccioni's seat rose slightly on Sunday, when president Massimo Moratti appeared to adjust his recent, supportive statements about Stramaccioni's future at Serie A's ninth-placed team.

"I have no doubts about him," said Moratti, "at the moment."

Meanwhile, AC Milan's commitment to Massimiliano Allegri would be seriously clouded should Milan not achieve the result they need Sunday at Siena to finish third. Antonio Conte seems sure to stay at Juventus, although he knows, as Serie A's champion coach, his name is on several wish lists abroad.

The esteem in which Italian coaches are held is still high, despite Mancini's setback.

Carlo Ancelotti has just won the French title with Paris St Germain, where the bench would also heat up if Real Madrid succeed in prising Ancelotti away. Super-rich Monaco, who approached Mancini last year, have just won promotion to France's Ligue 1 under Claudio Ranieri, who knows he may yet give way in Monte Carlo to another man.

Ranieri would survive that. The former Roma, Chelsea, Inter and Juve manager is one of the game's deftest hot-benchers.