Police clashed with Roma fans on Thursday last after a protest for Claudio Ranieri to resign as manager. After four straight defeats. Ranieri desperately needed a convincing result at Genoa to keep his job. He got a dream start, three-nil up at half time, but it didn’t last. Four goals were leaked, game over. At that stage Ranieri had no choice, before he was sacked, he resigned. Leaving Roma in eighth place, nine points away for the Champions League.
Almost immediately, thirty-six year old, Vincenzo Montella was appointed as caretaker. Many casual observers may ask Montella who?
Nicknamed “L’Aeroplanino”, meaning the small aeroplane, because he is small in stature. Also for his trademark goal celebration, where spreads his arms and runs. Which he used very often as he was a striker. In 1990 Montella started his career in Serie C1 with Empoli. Over five years he scored twenty-six goals. Which earned him a move to Genoa, in Serie B, and he really performed. Bagging twenty-one goals in just one season. Straight up to Serie A he went, Sampdoria snapped him up. He managed a 0.65 goal ratio, fifty four in eighty three. Bigger clubs were starting to take notice. Finally he made his biggest move, Roma forked out fifty billion Italian lire,(£twenty-five million). Montella was signed to lead the attack by Zeman, but he was fired. Fabio Capello came in, and allegedly didn’t like small forwards. Despite that he went on to score eighteen goals and become top scorer. Controversy occurred though the following season when Batistuta was signed, a tall striker. Montella had the no. 9 shirt that “Batigol” desired. Batistuta was always going to be the first choice, so our little aeroplane was benched. Roma won the Scudetto that year, 00/01, and Montella scored some vital goals, including one in the derby. He was loved by the fans for his knack of scoring against Lazio, he remains the only man to score four in one derby. His relationship with Capello remained sour. He still wasn’t first choice. Although when Capello eventually left, 04/05, Montella was plagued by injuries. Which he never fully recovered from. At that stage he was in his late twenties, time for change. Overall Montella scored ninety-four goals in two hundred and fifteen appearances for the “giallorossi”.
The little aeroplane took off to Fulham on loan, though he was past his best. Managing two goals in ten appearances, although he was very popular with the fans at Craven Cottage. He didn’t really get his game, and expressed desires to return to Rome. Montella returned to Italy and played for Roma and Sampdoria but only scored four goals for the latter. He holds twenty caps for the Italian national team. One of the great Italian forwards, no doubt, with one hundred and eighty nine goals in three hundred and eighty three games.
Up until Monday, Montella was on a three year contract in charge of Roma’s “Giovanissimi Nazionali”. Otherwise known as the under fifteens, although he sometimes is used as a striker coach for any age level.
At his inauguration he said he would make all decisions and no ego is bigger then the club. He seems very confident of leading Roma to the Champions League places. As they are currently eight points behind Lazio. They have a good squad and its not an impossible task, it remains to be seen. It certainly is a huge step up in his managerial career. First he must tackle Bologna.
I hate using cliches but; can Roma take off with L’Aeroplanino?