On 30th August, 2009, the second day of the Serie A season, a new-look Juventus team coached by a proud Ciro Ferrara walked over a seemingly confused Roma side at the Stadio Olimpico. When the 90 minutes was up, the Bianconeri had won quite easily, with goals from Diego and Felipe Melo. Juventus looked like serious title contenders, while Roma did not, and the board of the Turin club were happy with their decision to appoint the unproven Ferrara at the end of the previous season.

The day after the debacle, Luciano Spalletti resigned as Roma coach after four years in “La Capitale”, during which time he won one Coppa Italia, an Italian Supercup, and led many a battle against Inter in the years that followed the Calciopoli scandal.

Rosella Sensi, Roma’s president, moved to appoint Claudio Ranieri, who had himself been chased away from Juventus in the dying days of the 2008/09 season.

On 23rd January, 2010, Juventus and Roma met once again, in the return Serie A fixture. Only five months had passed, but it looked like years. Ciro Ferrara had lost his magic touch earlier in the season as he failed to become the “new Pep Guardiola”. Ferrara faced many problems with his squad, particularly with the newly arrived Brazilians Diego and Felipe Melo: the goalscorers that day in Rome. Club icon Alessandro Del Piero was not happy either, spending more time on the bench than the pitch.

Juventus lost important matches against Palermo and Napoli in October, but the real “Waterloo” started at the end of November. On the 29th of that month the Bianconeri were dismantled in Cagliari, piling up the problems for Ferrara. A week later Juventus played Inter in Turin. The Old Lady did their best, and in many ways spent all their mental and physical energy in the crucial encounter. Juventus won 2-1, with goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio. Ferrara’s side had played good football, but it was also clear that not all their problems had been overcome.

In fact it did not take long for reality to bite. Just three days later Juventus met Bayern Munich at home in a decisive Champions League clash. The Old Lady were thrashed 4-1 by the Germans and knocked out of Europe’s top club competition. That was the night doubts about Ferrara’s future began and the squad lost confidence in their coach.

Things didn’t get any better and before Christmas Juventus lost 2-1 at home to lowly Catania. In January they lost again, against rivals Milan in Turin (3-0), away to Chievo (1-0), and only scraped a lucky 2-1 win at Parma on the 6th January.

Ranieri’s Roma approached their game in Turin in a completely different manner. The ex-Chelsea, Valencia and Juventus coach had revitalised the capital club after a difficult start. Spalletti had endured many problems, especially towards the end of his reign, struggling with Francesco Totti who had refused to play as a trequartista, or behind the forward, because he sees himself as the lone striker of the team. Totti is of course very influential in Rome, as the most loved player of Roma’s president and their fans. A coach can’t go against his wishes, and this is an obvious compromise any manager must make to survive at Roma.

Claudio Ranieri, who was born in Rome and knows all about the passion of the capital, understood the situation, and injected new life into Roma, despite a bad start.

Under Ranieri the Romanisti produced a wonderful performance in Milan against Inter, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw. That was perhaps the turning point for their season because in that experience in the San Siro the players seemed to rediscover their confidence. Roma went on to surge up the table and qualify for the Europa League’s Round of 32. They also won the derby against Lazio and began to play a more attractive brand of football than had been seen in the Spalletti years.

On that night in Turin, Juventus played with effort, trying to make their mark. It was clear for all to see however that Ferrara’s regime was in its dying days. At the beginning of the second half, Del Piero fired Juventus into the lead with a wonderful strike. Roma though continued to play good football, unperturbed, and equalised with a penalty through Totti. Just a few seconds before the end, John Arne Riise netted the winner for the Giallorossi, and that seemed to be the final word for Ciro Ferrara as Juventus manager.

Ranieri’s revenge was complete. Roma stood above Juventus in the table. And it was clear to all that the board in Turin had made a big mistake last May in dismissing Ranieri to appoint Ferrara. After the match Ranieri held off his celebrations – he usually does because he’s a quiet man – but did get something off his chest. “I am very sad for the Juventus players and I gave my compliments to them before and after the match. The board? No, I don’t want to say anything to them, I only want to say that I wouldn’t have had all the possibilities they have given to Ferrara”.

A few days after the Turin meeting Roma reached the semi-final of the Coppa Italia, while Juventus lost in the San Siro to Inter: Their ninth loss in eleven matches. That was the last day for Ferrara in Turin, and soon after the board announced Alberto Zaccheroni as the new coach until the end of the season. Ranieri however can look forward to a bright future in the Italian capital.


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