Apparently, forever has a shorter shelf-life in Genoa than some other parts of the world. “If Del Neri still has his job after all these losses, it must mean that our faith in him is eternal,” said the Genoa owner Enrico Preziosi last Friday. Two days later, Del Neri was fired.
Preziosi is not the first Serie A president to perform such a volte-face, of course, and nor is it likely to be his last. This was the toy magnate’s seventh coaching change in the two-and-a-half years since he parted ways with Gian Piero Gasperini, a pace to rival that of Italian football’s great self-professed “manager-eater”, Maurizio Zamparini. On this occasion, the decision felt justified. Del Neri had collected just eight points from 13 games since taking over in late October.
“I am terrified of Serie B,” confessed Preziosi, whose team sits in 18th, three points adrift of safety. “If we get relegated it will be because we deserved it, but I am convinced that won’t happen…It would also be wrong to put the blame all on Del Neri. I am wholly responsible.”
He would certainly find plenty of support for the latter viewpoint among the club’s fans. Preziosi might be the least popular team president in all of Serie A, a stark contrast with the late Riccardo Garrone, owner of Genoa’s city rivals Sampdoria, whose passing last night was mourned by fans on both sides of the divide.
Where Garrone was perceived as a great servant to the city lauded for the substantial support he lent—both financially and otherwise—to public causes such as the renovation and re-opening of the city’s famous Carlo Felice Theatre, Preziosi stands accused by his club’s fans of treating the team like just another one of those toys that he produces.
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