The Laziali created a poll on Twitter to see who the fan favourites of Lazio managers were: there were 3 coaches that the team chose, and 111 votes were tallied. Below, we find out who the fan-favourite was.
3. Roberto Mancini (15%)
He became a coach the day after he retired from professional soccer as a Lazio player, for Lazio. The biancocelesti played beautiful soccer under Mancini and it was a joy to watch. He granted Lazio 2 league cups, but never achieved the same success as Eriksson because of Lazio’s financial problems. This forced Cragnotti, president and owner of the club, to sell great players to stop Lazio from going bankrupt.
Mancini was known for being passionate like his player (a typical hot-blooded Italian), and would not miss a chance to poke fun at the opposition when the chance presented. Even Roma fans at the time would admit that they would watch Lazio games due to how exciting their play was.
Mancini stressed the importance of the defense famously saying “I like a 1-0 win.” Mancini recognized that the top teams rarely concede goals and because of this management style nearly every team he has coached has won a piece of silver. A testament to his solid coaching abilities and vision for solid teams built from the back despite being a striker during his player days.
As a player Mancini was on the National Team as a starter known as a play-maker. Before Lazio, he was with Sampdoria at a time when they won their only Scudetto. Him and his teamate Vialli were known as the “Gemelli del Gol” or the “Goal Twins”.
Unlike Maestrelli, Mancini preferred to let top players go who could not get along with other team members. He did not see value in trying to tame skilled players, and felt it better that they leave. With this style he won two scudetti while coaching for Inter, and is the new coach for the Italian National Team.
2. Tommaso Maestrelli (22%)
Maestrelli was only with Lazio for three years. Known for being a father-figure, he came to Lazio from Foggia. Thanks to him, Lazio were able to acquire Re Cecconi ahead of A.C. Milan who was known as one of the best filtering midfielders (#8) to ever play.
Lazio was mostly filled with unknowns at the time; however under Maestrelli, this team, having come up from Serie B, nearly captured the Scudetto but lost it in the last game of the season. For that feat, Maestrelli won the “Seminatore D’oro” (Golden Seeder) as the best coach in Italy for developing new talents. The following season (73/74) Lazio would win the Scudetto.
Unfortunately Maestrelli would become sick the next season as he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was forced to leave the bench, and would die shortly after (only two years later).
He dealt with Chinaglia, and other strong personalities, requiring a strong authority in order to tame the team. He had the locker room divided into half so that each “clan” in the Lazio club could use it’s own materials without mixing. Outside the field they would not bother talking with one other. Despite this, he was able to salvage a strong team on the field.
Chinaglia came to revere Maestrelli, and each player on the team admired him. On his style, another Serie A coach said “Somehow, he let Chinaglia do whatever he wanted, as long as Chinaglia gave everything himself.” Maestrelli realized Chinaglia was a wild mustang, only able to give the best if allowed to roam free. At a time when coaches typically applied strict rules.
Maestrelli invented the right wing-back, making Lazio the first club to have a true right wing-back whom would play the position every game (Martini). He extracted the best from Frustalupi who came to Lazio from Inter as an aging player considered to be “over-the-hill”. Letting him play at a lower pace, Maestrelli was able to realize Frustalupi’s play-making skills.
Though Eriksson may have more honors, Maestrelli was given a back-yard team and turned them into champions. Had he lived longer, it is without doubt Lazio would have gone on to win more honors.
1. Sven-Goran Eriksson (63%)
Eriksson was originally the coach for Roma when they won the Scudetto in the ‘80s. When Cragnotti called on him however in the mid-90’s, Eriksson answered. Together, they built the strongest Lazio side ever in history and arguably sent the club into international renown for a time being ranked at number one in all of Europe.
Players like Marchegiani, Nesta, Stankovic, Mihajlovic, Sosa, Vieri, Lombardo, and many others were all international level players that arrived under Eriksson, and propelled Lazio to new heights. Up to 5 players from Lazio were drafted into the Italian National Team.
With Eriksson, Lazio won 1 Scudetto, after finishing 2nd the year before by a small margin of only 1 point. He also won the European Cup Winners Cup, and beat Manchester United 1-0 (who had won the Champions Cup) with a goal from Sosa, thus winning the European Super Cup. After this season, Lazio became known as the number one side in Europe.
The level of soccer under Eriksson was intense and unbelievable, and two players in this squad would later become well-known managers (one of the team’s managed by both being Lazio), Roberto Mancini and Simone Inzaghi. The year of the Scudetto (99/00) Lazio also won the league cup.
A real gentleman coach, soft-spoken, and knowledgable. His soccer was a fast-paced. It is difficult to describe Eriksson’s Lazio, either than calling it a “perfect storm”. The midfielders setup the forwards and filtered the opposing team’s offense. The defenders had brilliance with their tackles – the forwards menaced the defense breaking them down until a goal was certain.
The only negative of Eriksson was that he was not particularly passionate, and was characterized as “cold” and “emotionless”. However, he was pragmatic and never gave excuses. His soccer exemplifies the pinnacle of Lazio and will most likely remain that way for the foreseeable future.