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Trouble at Lazio for Edy Reja and Lotito

“I don’t know how long I can go on for” were the words uttered by Edy Reja just under a year ago upon receiving a hail of abuse from the fans following a 1-1 draw against Cesena, and it wasn’t to be the first or last time that the Lazio boss would threaten to quit the Rome club.

Lazio's brave eagles have had a very confused week

Lazio's brave eagles have had a very confused week

The last week has been beyond farcical in Rome with the coach tendering a resignation before having it thrown back in his face. All is not well at the club and while the relationship between Edy Reja and Claudio Lotito has been super-glued back together, a departure now feels inevitable.

Lazio are in 4th in Serie A. To describe them as a side in crisis is ludicrous, but the short termism that surrounds football often leads us down this path, the 5-1 mauling in Palermo highlights their poor recent form. The side has conceded 14 goals in their last 5 games including just the solitary win, a win at home to Cesena requiring an all-out offensive to overturn a 2-goal half-time deficit.

All considered Edy Reja is doing a good job. On this occasion the problems are related to issues in the boardroom, more specifically with Claudio Lotito and, sporting director, Igli Tare, rather than with the fans – as has been the case in the past.

The meeting with Reja last Tuesday is the second time in 2012 that the president has seen it necessary to interfere with matters on the pitch. The meeting was called because Lotito and Tare were unhappy that Reja had played just one central defender against Palermo when Giuseppe Biava and Marius Stankevicius were both available after returning from injury.

Rumours suggested that the coach did it in anger and out of spite over a spat about the poor January transfer window, but the coach cited tactical reasons stating that he didn’t want to play two centre backs with similar characteristics. If the president wants to look anywhere for answers to the current problems then he must point the finger first at himself and at Tare.

Under Lotito the club’s fortunes have certainly improved, some have even referred to him as a ‘Messiah’, but the club is now in danger of plateauing. The excellent Swiss Ramble report on the club showed the president’s prudent nature saw a wage to turnover ratio of just 46% in 2009-10, the 7th highest revenues and 5th highest attendances in Serie A. Also, in the past Lotito has often been accused of penny pinching, refusing to offer a new deal to Cristian Ledesma two seasons ago for example, but in the past three seasons the club have made the 3rd highest net spend – €62m.

Reja, though, has some right to feel aggrieved about a January transfer window in which a striker and a centre back were sold and none of the players he asked for were acquired by Tare. In fact without the goals and assists of Miroslav Klose, this season the team would find itself in 15th place on 29 points and involved in a relegation battle. The squad is average and Reja has been able to squeeze the best out of it with some very direct football.

Lazio position in the table without Miroslav Klose

Lazio would be in 15th place without the goals and assists of Miroslav Klose.

Would an ambitious president allow the club to go 4 seasons without a shirt sponsor? Not even accepting a small deal which could pay off some of the club’s huge tax bill. Would an ambitious president let important deals (Keisuke Honda) run to the final few minutes of the transfer window over a relatively small difference in price before seeing them fail?

The president is usually busy arguing with CONI (the Italian Olympic committee who lease Lazio their stadium), arguing with other presidents or struggling to maintain power on the league board. Actions which lack class and also serve to continue the idea that Lotito is only interested in his own success, and not that of the club.

The ridiculous situation at the club this week won’t have helped the credibility of anyone involved, things have been patched up but it looks like a relationship of convenience rather than happiness.

“Things were cleared up and therefore my adventure at Lazio continues”
Edy Reja

No matter how well you glue some items back together, though, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll end up in the bin.

  • Stormgod Mrl

    two losses to atletico madrid and impending doom in champions league if they finish in third. for the sake of serie a lazio need to get serious about building or need to drop a few places


    But would the Champions League give them access to another 30 million which could be spend on 3 or 4 players to boost the squad.
    In you opinon who or what do they need? And what would you realisticaly expect from this team? 

  • Six4our

    Not a bad article, but that table showing where Lazio would be without Klose’s goals is irrelevant and daft. Where would Milan be without Zlatan’s goals? Udinese without Di Natale’s? And what point are you trying to make exactly?
    May as well make a table for next week’s article about where Lazio would be had Marchetti not made any saves, it would be just as relevant as the table above.

  • Rocco

     Thanks for reading.

    The table is a little tenuous. The point I was trying to make in quite a crude way was how the team would be struggling without Klose. Perhaps it would make more sense to look just at the games he hasn’t played. Analysing the absence of a player is a tricky one.

  • Rocco

    Champions League access would give them lots more to play with, but, they’re very unlikely to pinch second place now – no one but Milan/Juventus will take that. Then there is the potential heartbreak of a playoff. They won’t spend big until they know they can make the Champions League proper – similar to Sampdoria 2 summers ago – so it’s a little bit catch-22.

    They really need a centre back to reach their peak at the same time as Diakite (someone aged 24-25) and more importantly someone to share the creative responsibilities of the playmaker, Hernanes. This is a difficult problem to solve because someone will go without playing time for a considerable period of time – I don’t foresee Reja ever playing two playmakers. It will have to be a youngster willing to live in the shadow of the Brazilian until he is snapped up by a bigger club.

  • Six4our

    As you say it’s tricky to get into hypothetical situations. Sure, Klose has been a huge part of Lazio’s success this season. But if he hadn’t been scoring those goals it’s not like Reja would just continue to include him in the team every week regardless. 
    The coach would try to fix the problem, change things around and maybe bring in a goalscorer or two, so maybe Lazio might not be struggling without Klose’s goals after all?

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