Wednesday 21 March 2018

Delneri ready to make his mark after roundabout route to top

Neil Ahern

JUVENTUS boss Luigi Delneri sits forward in front of the gathered media at Tallaght, his posture betraying some understandable confidence ahead of his side's clash with Shamrock Rovers this evening, but also a slight degree of caution.

The Italian manager may hold the reins of one of the most illustrious clubs in Europe, but the 59-year-old is perhaps as comfortable among the modest surroundings of Tallaght Stadium as any of the iconic grounds in Serie A. In fact, Rovers' home is an appropriate location for his first competitive game in charge of the Old Lady.

In stark contrast to his full-time predecessor Ciro Ferrara -- who was parachuted into his first senior club job at the Stadio Olimpico last year to little success -- Delneri has had to climb from the very bottom to reach the top of the football ladder.

The former Sampdoria player spent 12 years in football management before climbing above Serie C1, Italy's third tier. Juventus are the 17th club at which he has taken charge, but this man is not too big for Shamrock Rovers.


A small part of Delneri may have doubted that he would make it to his first competitive game, even after his appointment.

That's because he holds the unenviable record of having been sacked at two clubs before even taking charge of a single competitive match.

It happened in 1998 at Empoli in a disastrous start to his Serie A career, and more famously at FC Porto in 2004, when Delneri was charged with the task of replacing Jose Mourinho. He lasted only six weeks and a few pre-season games.

Thankfully, his summer preparations this time around have been impressive enough to convince the Juve board to retain his services beyond the friendly fare. All the same, he knows all about early pressure at major clubs, and the repercussions if things don't go their way against the Hoops tonight.

"We are taking it very seriously. Shamrock Rovers are a very well organised and very well prepared team and, of course, it's on their own pitch," he warned.

"They play very cautious, they are very strong physically, so we are taking this situation very seriously.

"Winning is the priority, but it's not guaranteed: you have to go out there and win the match. We must play like Juventus."

Delneri will have to do so without some of his big-name players, with Fabio Grosso, Mauro Camoranesi and Felipe Melo among the players omitted from tonight's squad.

Irish Independent

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