STEVEN MANDIS wrote a revealing book on Real Madrid a couple of years back and he’s returned – with his colleagues – with an appraisal of the history, current status and future prospects of Italy’s Serie A.
The most recent golden age of Serie A , the 1980s and early 1990s saw Italy become a magnet for every major football star. Serie A attracted the world’s greatest players, including Diego Maradona, Ruud Gullit, Juergen Klinsmann and many others. We also had Italian football on British TV and we hoped that, somehow, English football could replicate the glamour, the professionalism and the excitement of Italy. In some ways it has done just that.
Mandis highlights why Italy fell away and its clubs failed to keep pace with the other big names of European football. In that, there’s also a message for the English Premier in that neglect of player development can have long-term implications. When people list the world’s top players, the representatives from Italy are mostly over 30 years old. In fact, Serie A has a higher average age of player than all the big five European leagues. Italy’s absence from World Cup 2018 is a case in point.
But it is not all gloomy. Juventus reinvented themselves – “Newventus” – and other clubs, such as Napoli and Roma, have now woken up to the realities of the modern football industry. As Mandis points out, however, it will take considerable time for these clubs to move into the upper echelons once more.
As GOTP has said in the past, UEFA and FIFA both need a successful Italy and the nation, so often teetering on the brink of crisis, desperately needs its football to become a force once more. Juventus are showing the way, but Europe needs Inter, AC Milan, Roma, Napoli and Lazio to be credible contenders.
This is an excellent book, arguably more insightful than the Real Madrid story. Anyone with an interest in football beyond the playing pitch will find it fascinating.
What Happened to Serie A by Steven G Mandis, Thomas Lombardi and Sarah Parsons Walter is
published by Arena Sport.