No one can question how passionate Rino Gattuso is about football. The fiery former Italian midfielder had a reputation as a player for wearing his heart on his sleeve and it would appear that he has continued that trait as he embarks on his managerial career. Now coaching Greek side OFI Crete after brief stints in charge of Palermo and FC Sion, Gattuso has come under fire in recent weeks for his team’s performances especially from the Greek media based in Athens, who are already calling for him to resign. After his side’s narrow 1-0 victory over Atromitos on Saturday, Gattuso took part in the mandatory post game press conference amid stunning scenes. Sick of the negativity towards his side and taking exception to some of the pieces written in the run up to the game, Gattuso used the press conference to convey his thoughts and feelings like only he knows how.
Sitting alongside his translator, Gattuso fielded questions from the Greek media. Answering firstly in Italian before it was translated into Greek, Gattuso started by relying confidently his disappointment in the way the media had been acting and the attacks he was receiving. But with the pressure building, Gattuso’s tone began to change. With a look on his face that could scare a pit-bull, Gattuso eventually burst into broken English to emphasize his opinions. In a 15 minute rant, aimed at one journalist in particular who he claimed has no respect for him, the club or his players and had been suggesting that the former Rangers and AC Milan player was about to leave the club, Gattuso eventually lost his cool, banging on the table and swearing on several occasions:
“I know I have many problems. I work 12 to 15 hours a day. Sometimes win, sometimes lose but my job my players no-one touches them. It’s shit, its shit. This is my team. OFI is not Real Madrid nor Barcelona, OFI is a small team with many problems. I want my players to play with balls, play with heart; this is what I speak with my players. Leave? Why? It’s too easy for me to leave. Every day you have called for the president to make me leave but I stay. This is my family. I haven’t come here for a holiday but the media is crazy, I know the club has problems. My one year here is ten years at another club. This is good for me. I don’t go home and cry because we don’t have money. I don’t like the excuse that players don’t play with us because we don’t pay salary. F*** off. This is not true.”
OFI Crete lie 10th in the Greek Super League table after only four games, with two wins and two defeats so far. Given the clubs financial predicament and its inability to attract better players because of this, the start has been better than expected. Short of midfield options, Gattuso has been forced into playing an offensive 3-4-3 formation with two wing backs in Stathis and Milhazes supporting both defensive and offensive moves. The formation appears to be working despite the claims from the Athens based journalist. Against Panaitolikos, OFI Crete were in control but were unable to break down the stubborn defensive 4-2-3-1 line up that their opposition fielded. With a majority of the possession and with more shots on goal (11-2), it was only a matter of time before the break came. Eventually in the 90th minute, the excellent Rafael Bracalli in the Panaitolikos goal was beaten handing Gattuso and his side their first three points. In the next game Veria implemented the same defensive strategy but this time Gattuso’s side were unable to break then down again despite having more of the ball and more shots on goal. A single breakaway goal by Nikolaos Kaltzas on the 54th minute was enough to settle the game in Veria’s favour, who have been in surprisingly good form this season and currently sit in 2nd place in the league. After the international break, Gattuso adjust his tactics to a 5-4-1 formation against the much stronger Olympiakos but found his players unable to cope with the change, eventually losing 3-0. Returning to his preferred 3-4-3 in the next game, OFI once again took charge of the game against Atromitos who countered Gattuso’s formation unsuccessfully with a 4-4-2. A single goal by Alexandros Perogamvrakis gave Crete the points and Gattuso his second win in charge.
To be fair to Gattuso, his side is actually playing quite well. Granted they have problems up front with several players still to break their duck for the season and with his teams failure to adapt to formation changes but these problems will resolve themselves over time. Gattuso has his team playing with passion and with heart as he spoke about in the press conference and if he can maintain this, Crete could have a fairly productive season. Regardless of how their season goes, it may be advisable that the Athens journalist in question stays away from Crete and more importantly Gattuso as this is one pit-bull that always bites back.
To watch Gattuso’s press conference, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7clSlIXxBZo
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