Over the last weeks, we could say that Andrea Aurezzioli (that's his new nickname because my fingers won't flick out anything else on the first try) has been coaching himself into a job. When Zeman was being walked to the guillotine in the last week of January, the suits hurriedly looked around to all the townfolk, attempting to gobble up the most desirable of those available. And even those not really available, in the case of Manuel Pellegrini. When they were rebuffed by all for whatever reason, Blanc supposedly over contract, they chose the undistinguished commoner sitting on the barrel near the back, quietly eating his apple. He would point. "Me? Who? Me? You mean me?" And the rest, as they say, has been six weeks of a sport in which people get paid too much money to play a @#$%ing game so don't call it history, a'ight?
Nevertheless, here we are: it's going to be roughly April by the time Aurelio gets the opportunity to loosen his grip on pole position, because if he can somehow get himself canned during the international break after winning four of the last five, then I want to shake his hand, because that's damn impressive. If he stays on this course, he'll put together the best streak of coaching in Rome since Claudio Ranieri said, "You and you, on the bench." during halftime of the capital derby. Which also means he has to be hired, right? There are ways to render a decision a formality, and Aurelio's already made a damn fine start. This is an attempted rundown of that imaginary checklist.
Do Better Than The Guy Who Was Just Fired
This is fairly obvious everywhere except Palermo, where results fall second to the little gnome which provides the voices inside Maurizio Zamparini's head. Here, it's obvious Aurelio's improved upon things. Quite a bit. The problem is Zeman had an excellent run in the early winter as well, so he needs to improve upon ZZ with consistency. If he pulls a January like the one ZZ had in the next few weeks, a member of the De Rossi family is going to be seeing out the season as coach.
Win A Big Game
Took care of this one early. Beating everyone but losing to the top four or five clubs isn't going to cut it, especially considering he gets a crack at each. A massive victory over Juventus and this one's easy.
Perform Away As Well As Home
This is what separates the good teams from the contenders. Given Aurelio has zero pedigree to fall back on, his performance requirements are likely higher than most. For a club which has designs on being a perennial Champions League club when it moves into its new stadium, being able to perform anywhere, not simply get them to feel their happies off the home crowd (no, I don't know what that means), is necessary. He doesn't even have to be good, simply above average. Right now it's 1-1-1, one of those his first ninety minutes as coach, which I think should just be tossed out the window - practice run. Time will tell.
Don't Feud With The Top Players
Aurelio really seems like a player's coach, someone more in tune with the psychological demands of the mister - placating the athletes emotionally, mentally, mumbo jumbo, etc. which is in stark contrast to Zeman, and if rumor is correct, a large reason as to why he was fired. So far, everything seems kosher on that front. Everyone likes him, he likes everyone else, and he even got Marquinho to stop spitting. Delightful all 'round. One needn't pull a Delio Rossi and punch his own player in the face to go too far, so don't call Mamma Totti bad names from poolside, either.
Because we all know how that turns out.
Status: Mostly check, some TBD
The beauty of this current tactical system is it inherently allows for adaptability, incorporating different types of personnel employed in various roles yet all within the same general structure. It's wonderful. But tactics are fads, and though it works now, one day it won't. If that day comes and he refuses to budge off of it, much like his two predecessors, torpedoing the club with stubbornness, he can go back to diagramming Rodrigo Taddei's once-a-decade solo spectaculars.
There is a comparison here, and I've been trying not to make it for a number of reasons, but it's apropos: Roberto Di Matteo and Chelsea. After he won the Champions League, Roman Abramovich almost had to hire him, despite the entire world knowing it wasn't what he had in mind, and so the leash would ultimately be very, very short. It was. The same can be said of a 59yo making his debut for a club which is spending money and attempting to become a global powerhouse. If this was Siena, he'd have the job already. It's not. It's Roma. Which means his leash is going to be short and this leads to the possibility that he'll be canned for a "name" at the first sign of trouble. If Aurelio wins the next six in a row and demands Scrooge McDuck dollars for the permanent gig, there's no chance he's hired, because there's every chance he's just a stopgap no matter what. Fairy tales are possible, but fleeting, and rarely anything but short-lived.
Of course the likelihood he turns down any offer at all is about as likely as you turning down a date with a supermodel. "Ohmygod. Thankyouthankyouthankyou." (You're not smooth, you know.)
Champions League Qualification
Job's his, end of.
Europa League Qualification/Other
This is a bit tricky, because the Europa League has two methods of achievement: either the normal route, or the Coppa Italia. If they win the secondary trinket yet finish 11th, he doesn't stand a chance. If, however, they challenge for the Champions League spot while finishing up at a solid fourth/fifth, then it's possible, as it's also worth noting he began in a hole and he can no longer directly compete with other clubs. So what they might do is look at his performance as projected over the course of a season and see how that would stack up. It might come down to a points-per-game situation: I would say 2ppg and up will win him the job decidedly. If over the course of the season he projects out to winning that Champions League spot, he should at least be the front runner while they consider options. As things stand:
Ultimately, it comes down to performances.
Cesare Prandelli's Career Decisions
See, I have this theory. Noting that Zdenek Zeman was on a two-year contract as well as the fact that Laurent Blanc was being hitched to an 18 month contract - much to his displeasure - I think they're waiting on Prandelli for after the World Cup in 2014, when he will almost assuredly depart the Azzurri. Those two contracts had very specific, identical end dates which coincide with the release of one of the most desirable, youth-progressive coaches in the country, and one with intimate knowledge of a number of players already in the side. He is, for all intents and purposes, the type of coach that on paper, one wants leading a club into a new stadium, new era, et cetera. I really do think their eye has been on him since the failure of Luis Enrique, pinpointing him as the prime target so long as someone more desirable - like Pep walking out on Bayern in the first week because he made a terrible choice in snubbing Roma - doesn't come along in the meantime. Maybe he's not the type of coach one sits on, but is Montella going to jump ship now? He shouldn't. Who knows what's going to happen with Allegri. Carlo Ancelotti isn't walking through that door, James Pallotta. The options of top-tier coaches who'd be willing to coach this side right now are not bountiful, unless they net CL. At which point, the job is Aurelio's.
If Cesare Prandelli, at any point in the next few months, states that he wants to return to coaching an Italian club after his stint with La Nazionale is up, they will be ushering in a stand-in, one year coach. I'm not sure whether or not they want to do that to Aurelio, given he has a chance to begin a real coaching career now and he's already likely earned a Montella-esque look from other clubs with his short stint thus far (perhaps a Serie B side with ideas of promotion in 13-14 at the very least), and he won't turn down a head coaching opportunity which rids himself of the interim tag. There are other options, such as Walter Mazzarri or Stefano Pioli, but that 18 month Blanc contract plus the two years of Zeman set off alarm bells in my head.
Win The Derby
Considering they're ninety minute one-off matches, there is no reason to think winning a derby should be mandatory. For a club which is being run like a business, removing one match and holding it above the others as a means of determining how to move forward with such a huge decision, particularly after two failed initial attempts, would be utter lunacy no matter the outcome.
But winning a derby does have intangible results which can only bolster his appeal to both those doing the hiring and those he is coaching.
Advance To The Coppa Final
Zeman got him off on the right foot with a 2-1 in Rome, but again with the whole "one match" thing. The whole matters more than any individual piece, and it's one game away at the San Siro. It will be a substantial bonus if he does, but a job shouldn't be dependent upon it.
Win The Coppa
Continue Thriving With Lesser Parts (Read: Lower Salaries)
Guess what? These owners like a low payroll. A lot. And with even more expected turnover coming up in the summer (an annual demolition project, this club), they'll ideally want to attack value rather than names.
For example: Simone Perrotta's contract is up. If he re-signs, and that's a large "if," it will be for lira on the euro. (Does that work?) If the system fits, with Destro returning, Lopez another year older, someone like Bertolacci a possibility, and even Borriello if no one wants him (again), they can pitch Pablo Osvaldo for a healthy fee and save on his wages. That's not to say eking another year out of Perrotta's legs is ideal, but if he proves over the course of the next months that he's a valid piece of the puzzle still, then all of the better. The same goes for someone like Balzaretti, who's appearing superfluous. Or even Bradley, though he's on small money, relatively.
Owners like it when coaches can do it on the cheap. A lot of them can do it with a payroll which rivals Japan's GDP. Not everyone can do it by benching Player 3.8m/year for Player 300k/year. If Aurelio can do that now, then they can probably maneuver through the mercato accordingly.
It's just like any business. If you go to a mechanic and he says, "I can do it for X amount." and another says "I can do the same job for Y amount."...X > Y, you're choosing Y.
So that's all. Do those things, and he gets a 500% payraise or thereabouts. No pressure.