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Best Serie A managers of 2021

Sun 24 October 2021 | 14:30

Italy is known for having great managers in football’s history. Let’s check out the best Serie A managers in 2021.

Serie A has always had great managers and 2021 was one of the best years for Italian managers.

Roberto Mancini

won the Euro 2020 and showed the world that Azzurri is capable of playing an offensive style of football and winning a major title at the same time. Managers like Antonio Conte and Gian Piero Gasperini are like prophets of 3-5-2 in today’s football. In 2021 football clubs had to reconsider their policies due to the economic situation. Many great names changed their teams and the managers were no exceptions.

Unfortunately, 4 of our list of the

Serie A 2021 managers

are not currently in Serie A. Instead,

Jose Mourinho

, Luciano Spalletti, Maurizio Sarri, and

Massimiliano Allegri

have returned to Serie A. In 2020-21, the long reign of Juventus ended by Inter but Nerazzurri has a hard job defending their Scudetto. Let’s have a look at the best Serie A managers of 2021. 

Read on to find out who are the best Serie A managers of 2021:

Luca Gotti and Sinisa Mihajlovic are the honorable mentions who were left out of our list of Serie A 2021 managers.

Davide Ballardini

Genoa head coach

Davide Ballardini

is the first one of the

Serie A 2021 managers

. The 57 years old Italian manager was a player under legendary coach

Arrigo Sacchi

while in the Cesena youth squad. At Cesena, Ballardini also worked with Osvaldo Bagnoli, who later won a historic Scudetto with Hellas Verona. Both the two managers who have influenced Ballardini, despite their styles, are vastly different.

On 21 December 2020, Ballardini was appointed as Genoa’s manager for the fourth time in the past decade. He replaced Rolando Maran because his side only collected 7 points from the first 13 Serie A features and they stood in 19th place. Ballardini started with a victory against

Spezia

. Genoa finished the season with 7 more victories and stood in 11th place. With Ballardini in the lead as one of the best Serie A managers of 2021, Genoa only lost to the top Serie A teams except for

Napoli

. Genoa had a home victory over Napoli and they shared the point with Atalanta at Bergamo.

Ballardini’s great run in the second half of the season secured his place on Geona’s bench for the 2021-22 season. His side started the current season with two defeats against title defender Inter and League leader Napoli, followed by an away victory over Cagliari. In Coppa Italia last season they were eliminated by Juventus 3-2 in extra time, but in the current season, they won their first match and advanced to the round of 16.

Roberto De Zerbi

Roberto De Zerbi is one of the most praised Italian managers for his ambitious and attacking style and one of the

best Serie A managers of 2021

. The first praise De Zerbi achieved was during his spell at

Benevento

. He collected the first-ever Benevento point in Serie A in a 2-2 draw against Milan. Despite Benevento’s relegation at the end of the 2017-18 season, the young manager was credited with their courageous, possession-based, and attacking style.

De Zerbi went to

Sassuolo

the next season and his style of management was welcomed. He resembled the successful run of

Eusebio Di Francesco

with Neroverdi. In 2020-21 Serie A, Sassuolo secured the second consecutive 8th place. It is not a fancy ranking, but for a team like Sassuolo with their young squad, it is arguably an overachievement.

One of De Zerbi’s achievements was

Manuel Locatelli

’s magnificent improvement. Locatelli joined Sassuolo as a promising talent and once he left, he had become one of the best midfielders in Europe. Neroverdi won 6 out of the 8 last games of the previous season. At the end of last season, De Zerbi left Sassuolo and signed with the Ukrainian side, Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. Although he is no longer one of Serie A current managers, his Sassuolo in 2021 deserved to be praised. 

Vincenzo Italiano

Just like De Zerbi, Vincenzo Italiano is another example of fresh blood in Italian football and managers. Unlike his name, Italiano was born in Karlsruhe Germany, but he never played as a professional player for German clubs. As one of the

best Serie A managers of 2021

, Italiano went to Spezia in 2019-20 in Serie B. In his first season, Spezia earned a historic promotion to Serie A.

Given the ranking and the results, the season was the best season ever for Spezia. In Spezia’s debut Serie A season, they not only survived but had some remarkable results even facing league leaders. On 6 January 2021, they beat Napoli by a 2-1 comeback at San Paolo. In January and February Italiano’s side managed to win against

Sampdoria

,

Sassuolo

, and Milan. Their survival was secured by a 4-1 home victory over Torino.

At the season ending feature facing

Roma

, a 2-2 draw had a chance to drop the Romans out of the UEFA qualification rank. At the beginning of the 2021-22 season, Italiano was hired by Fiorentina. Italiano's result with Fiorentina was remarkable too. Viola won 4 of their first 6 games in 2021-22 and the away victory against Atalanta and Udinese was ringing alarm bells on the UEFA competitions fighters.

Claudio Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri

is another missing person for the Serie A current managers. The current manager of Premier League club

Watford

was at Sampdoria for almost two seasons. The dismal start for Sampdoria with Di Francesco led to his sacking after only 7 Serie A matches. Sampdoria lost 6 of their first 7 league matches. Ranieri managed to escape from the relegation zone in 2019-20.

The next season started with two losses for Sampdoria and then three victories in a row against mighty opponents: Fiorentina, Lazio, and

Atalanta

. On 6 January 2021, Sampdoria defeated title winners Inter. Inter lost only 3 games last season. The other teams were Milan and

Juventus

. Unlike the good form of Ranieri’s side in January, they lost many points in February and March but Sampdoria didn’t give up. They won 5 of their last 8 features to finish the season in 9th place.

Ranieri left Sampdoria for Watford in 2021-22. After his departure, Sampdoria has returned to the relegation zone. They won only one match against the recently promoted Empoli in their first 8 matches. Watford is the fourth Premier League club for Ranieri after Chelsea, Leicester, and Fulham. As one of the best Serie A managers of 2021, his championship with Leicester in the English top tier was one of the most memorable events of recent years. 

Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo

is the first manager of Juventus who has failed to win a Serie A title since 2011. This fact might be underwhelming, but considering that was his first experience as a senior team manager, his results were not bad at all. Pirlo started his work as the head coach of Juventus after only one month he received his UEFA Pro License. Juventus started the 2020-21 season with an unbeaten streak of 13 matches and in their 14th fixture, they lost against Fiorentina while

Juan Cuadrado

was sent off in the early minutes. Pirlo's team had a good start in 2021.

In January and February, they collected 7 victories against mighty opponents like Sassuolo, Milan, and Roma. In the first two months of 2021, only Inter and Napoli defeated Juventus. On 20 January, Pirlo won his first major trophy as manager. Juventus won the Supercoppa Italiana with a 2-0 victory against Napoli. Despite losing the first leg of Serie A against

Inter

, Pirlo managed to avenge Nerazzurri by eliminating them in the Coppa Italia semi final, and the second leg of Serie A.

Juventus qualified for the Champions League in the last league feature. There was an exciting race for the qualification zone between Juventus and Milan, Atalanta, and Napoli. In the end, Juventus stood in 4th while the difference between the 4 teams’ points was less than three. As one of the

best Italian managers

, Pirlo won the Coppa Italia final facing Atalanta to collect his second trophy while he was literally a rookie coach. This may not satisfy Juventus fans but Pirlo achieved all the objectives he had. Qualification for Champions League, winning two cup titles. Under Pirlo,

Ronaldo

finally became the league's top scorer and his emphasis on full-backs resulted in great performances by Cuadrado.

Ivan Juric

Ivan Juric

is the only one of the best Serie A managers of 2021 that is not Italian. The Croatian manager worked a long time under Italian manager Gian Piero Gasperini in

Crotone

and Genoa as a player. In 2006-07 they got Serie A promotion next to Juventus and Napoli and they finished their first two seasons in 10th and 5th rank respectively. Juric began his managerial career in 2011, just after he retired from Genoa. Gasperini made him his assistant at Inter but their time with Nerazzurri was short. Gasperini took Juric to Palermo as his assistant.

In 2014-15,

Mantova

was on Juric's first team as a head coach, and the next season he was appointed as the manager of his former club Crotone. In his first season with Crotone, they were promoted to Serie A for the first time. Juric didn't lead Crotone in Serie A; instead, he replaced his mentor Gasperini at Genoa. After Gasperini left for Atalanta, Genoa started changing their managers at least once a season.

In 2019-20 the recently promoted to Serie A,

Hellas Verona

decided to trust Juric and Juric reached 9th place for them. In 2020-21, Hellas Verona proudly stood in 10th place given that they have one of the lowest budgets in the league. On 24 January 2021, Juric's side defeated Napoli with a 3-1 victory. In their last match of the season, they got a draw with Napoli resulting in them slipping Champions League qualification out of their hands. Juric signed a 3-year contract with Torino, so don't be surprised if Torino finished this season in the top ranks.

Simone Inzaghi

After a long time, both as player and manager

Simone Inzaghi

finally left

Lazio

in 2021. Inzaghi’s record with Lazio as their coach is impressive. Lazio won 53.4% of their 251 games with Inzaghi on the bench as one of the Best Serie A managers of 2021. In the 2020-21 season, Lazio had two impressive win streaks. The first one started on January 6th, a home victory against Fiorentina. Lazio defeated their next 5 opponents including Roma, Sassuolo, and Atalanta.

The next winning streak started in March and lasted five matches. The streak ended with a wonderful 5-3 win against Benevento, who had Simone’s brother as their manager. Lazio qualified for the Europa League group stage but as one of the best Serie A managers of 2021, Inzaghi left Biancoclelesti to replace Antonio Conte at Inter. The similarities in management, such as using the same 3-5-2 formation, made it easier for Inzaghi to make his mark with Nerazzurri.

Inter had a powerful start to 2021-22, with 5 wins out of their first 7 games. Simone Inzaghi’s Inter seems more flexible and fearless than at the time Conte was in charge. They scored 22 goals in their first 7 games in Serie A. At the beginning of the current season, Inter was in shock of losing Conte,

Hakimi

, and

Lukaku

, but after Inzaghi’s firm steps the concern about Conte’s successor has worn off. Inzaghi is ready to win his first Scudetto as manager.

Stefano Pioli

In October 2019,

Stefano Pioli

signed with Milan to replace sacked manager

Marco Giampaolo

. Pioli was supposed to be a temporary solution for Milan’s bench, executed by Paolo Maldini. The club’s CEO even secretly had an agreement with Ralf Rangnick to replace Pioli at the end of the 2019-20 season. Pioli’s outstanding results with Milan ruined all the calculations and left no choice for the club’s executives to extend his contract.

In the second season, Pioli’s Milan did even better and claimed Serie A’s lead for half a season. They were unbeaten in the first 15 matches of 2020-21 and given Milan’s unbeaten run at the end of the previous season, it added up to the club's longest unbeaten streak in 24 years. Despite losing the win streak in January 2021 and facing lots of injuries, Milan reclaimed 2nd place in the standings in the last feature of the season. They finished the season with 5 unbeaten matches.

In the 2021 summer transfers, Pioli lost some of his best players like

Gianluigi Donnarumma

and Hakan Calhanoglu, but the Rossoneri started 2021-22 in the best way possible. Milan is currently undefeated in Serie A and they have only one draw in their first 8 matches. What makes Pioli’s work at Milan more valuable is his trust in young talents. 

Gian Piero Gasperini

Gian Piero Gasperini was hired by Atalanta when the club was struggling for survival most of the time and turned it into a constant Serie A representative in European competition. Gasperini had a great impact on Italian football by developing and introducing some of today's great footballers like Leonardo Spinazzola, Alessandro Bastoni,

Franck Kessie

, Robin Gosens, and Gianluca Mancini.

In 2020-21 January was the turning point for Gasperini and Atalanta. They started the new year with a 5-1 victory against Sassuolo. For the rest of the season, Gasperini’s side had remarkable results like a 0-3 victory against Milan, 4-2 against Napoli, and 1-0 facing Juventus. Gasperini uses his own trademark  3-4-3 formation most of the time and the 4-2-3-1 is a backup plan for Atalanta.

In Coppa Italia, they eliminated Lazio and Napoli but lost the final match to Juventus. For 2021-22, Gasperini reinforced his team by hiring Juan Musso to be the number 1 goalkeeper. In 2019 and 2020, when Massimiliano Allegri and

Maurizio Sarri

won the Serie A title, Gasperini was chosen as manager of the year. In 2021, he was definitely one of the best Italian managers. Thanks to the 63 years old manager, Atalanta has become one of the most powerful teams in Serie A, and followed by their presence in the knockout phase of the Champions League, the whole world sees Atalanta’s prodigies. 

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte

was so close to making his debut season at Inter, a dream season. His team finished runner-up in both  Serie A and Europa League. In Serie A Inter had only a single point less than Juventus and they lost the Europa League final by an own goal Lukaku scored while the match was on a 2-2 tie.

On January 3rd, Inter was in second place in the standings chasing Milan. Inter won Crotone 6-2 on the mentioned date but they lost the next match against Sampdoria. After a draw facing Roma, Conte’s side took a huge step in the title race by defeating Juventus. On 30 January, Inter started an extraordinary winning streak, starting with a 4-0 home victory over Benevento.

Inter won their next 10 matches and despite two draws facing Napoli and Spezia in April, Nerazzurri extended their unbeaten streak. From January 2021 to May, Inter remained invincible and secured the Serie A title. In that time Conte’s team had 16 victories and 4 draws. Inter finished the season having 12 points more than Milan in second place. Despite the authoritative Serie A season, Conte failed to progress in the Champions League and Coppa Italia. Conte made Inter the best defensive team in Italy and the 3 defenders system he developed using

Skriniar

, de Vrij, and Bastoni is considered one of the world's best defensive lines.

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