Sostiene Giannini

Ranieri's career as a player for his Roma lasted, as someone said when he was hired, five seconds twenty five years ago. His career as manager for his Roma has lasted longer than that, but more importantly: in the wake of his tremendous successwhich it unarguably isit looks improbable that it ends anytime soon. Giuseppe Giannini's career as a player for his Roma lasted almost an entire career, until he was he was shown the door (with or without a proverbial gun to his head is a matter for another time). His career as a manager hasn't yet brought him back to Rome, but he's trying. It would shock no one to learn that following in Ranieri's footsteps would be the fulfillment of a dream for the ex captain and bandiera, he who represented the club and city during the lean years.


My memories of Giannini are almost exclusively tied to the footballer, the captain. He was the one who first drew my attention to Roma, but in those days the only connection I had to Roma was the games (sometimes) shown on tv, but mostly Sunday afternoons spent following teletext for updates. So I have no connection or opinion of the man Giannini, and no prior opinions to navigate bybut if his latest career move is anything to go by, he seems to be an honest man wanting to do a good job. He resigned from serie A newcomers Gallipoli, in what ends a bizarre ride for the yellowred club; Giannini promoted them from (then) serie C for their first ever experience in serie B this season. But during the summer, turmoil expectedly (?) ensued and at one point in the second half of August Gallipoli had no players on the books. Not one. A new owner got the clearance in the eleventh hour, and the club pressed on to bring in a collection of unwanteds, amateurs and loanees in order to have a team for the start of the season. They should have no business being anything but everyone's odds on favorite to go back down by relegation. Only, they've fought. They're still very much in contention to stay up, and around the new year were comfortably in the middle of the table.

Giannini's resignation, it seems, is but a continuation of the turmoil experienced during the summer. Below is the statement he gave at a press conference explaining his decision to walk away. I reproduce it in its entirety, because it deserves to be.
"What I saw and felt yesterday evening hasn't happened to me in 30 years in football previously. I'm struck on a humane level and touched: in that moment I understood that to go forward any further would be very difficult. Certainly this piece of news has discouraged and knocked down the lads, who haven't received their salaries in five months and struggle to buy food. To ask these men to concentrate on a game when they're unable to eat... We're not talking about one individual, but several players. It's good that the people learn that while on away games we've had to pay our own meals out of our own pockets: you can't train in these conditions. That's why I have decided to part ways, because my persona was being used as a lightning rod by the club used to cover up the grave failings of the club. I do it for the lads who can't eat. I hope that my decision can provoke a certain reaction in the atmosphere and help save the club: it's a move that I hope will make everyone hold up and reflect."
Whether it's hyperbolic or not to claim that the players can't eat is completely irrelevant. Personally I don't imagine that life in a newly promoted club in serie B has much, if anything, in common with the glamor of being a star of a major club, the kind we're used to seeing and reading about. Giannini, by resigning, has risked falling off the map and suspending his own career while waiting for a new chance, all the while growing more irrelevant in the minds of club owners of serie B. That's worthy of admiration, I believe.