When Claudio Ranieri won the Premier League with Leicester City in 2016, it was one of the most iconic moments in sporting history. There is nothing one can take away from what was a rather impossible achievement. But talking on Italian managers, Antonio Conte hasn’t let anyone down. He has done things on a consistent basis in the current decade.
As things stand, his Inter stand is at the top of the Serie A. While they’ve been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League, it is a blessing in disguise when it comes to their Scudetto challenge. There is every chance Conte ends up winning the crown all over again.
Carlo Ancelotti and Massimiliano Allegri are two other Italian managers who reaped successes. They were just as successful in Europe, as Allegri took Juve to two Champions League titles. He won them the Serie A five times, winning that with Milan once too. He also won four Coppa Italia titles for the bianconeri.
As for Ancelotti, he won a Champions League title with Real Madrid. He had won the Premier League title with Chelsea in 2010, followed by a Ligue 1 title win with Paris Saint-Germain. He won a Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich title too.
While it is unfair to compare the achievements of different types, Conte isn’t far behind either. He won the Premier League with Chelsea. Before Allegri came to Juve, the former Bari boss won three Serie A titles. He laid down the stylistic foundation that Allegri took forward. In the 2017-18 season, he won the FA Cup with Chelsea too.
It was the manner in which these managers won that defines the decade.
Ranieri’s Leicester won the Premier League with a 4-4-2 shape that had a traditional front line. Jamie Vardy and Leonardo Ulloa were similar to the Michael Owen and Emile Heskey pairing. The playing style was direct and there was immense focus on keeping things tight. They would play long-balls forward as quickly as they won it back. Vardy’s pace was crucial and so were NGolo Kante’s ball-winning abilities.
Conte’s Juve were pragmatic too. The 3-5-2 shape had a backline of Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci. It was everything Conte is known for. And he is carrying it forward to Inter. He would use a 3-4-3 shape at Chelsea that will be known for the midfield pairing of Nemanja Matic and Kante himself. He used a 3-5-2 for the Italian national team too, unexpectedly taking them to the semi-finals of the competition in 2016.
Allegri and Ancelotti are pragmatic, but they have more adaptability. They’re more known for taking sides forward using the same style as before. But they add their tinges into the former styles and help the teams become more tactically flexible outfits. They get the best out of the best players, thanks to their immense man-management abilities.
Some other very good Italian managers have made a name for themselves in this decade. One of them is Gian Piero Gasperini. His approach to the game is something Italian football had hardly seen before. For a nation that is traditionally known for catenaccio, Gasperini has brought an ultra-attacking style at Atalanta.
Marco Giampaolo’s possession style did very well at Sampdoria too. While it didn’t work out for him at AC Milan, there’s still a huge hope for him in the future. The same goes for Roberto de Zerbi and Parma boss Roberto D’Aversa, who has been showing promise in recent times with their sides playing some really good football.
The decade did start with the Italian traditionalists. But it is ending on a new note. In fact, it is a throwback to the past and a lot of it is a look into the future.