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 The Season 2004/05 (part 1)

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Curva Maestrelli
Curva Maestrelli

Number of posts : 149
Age : 40
Country and city : MALTA
Laziale since : 1986
Registration date : 2008-08-12

PostSubject: The Season 2004/05 (part 1)   Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:18 pm

Season 2004/05

After the winning of the Coppa Italia under Mancini's reign, an earthquake hit the club. After months of rumours it was official that Mancini had made a secret agreement to be their new coach. Despite denying any secret negotiations Mancini was harshly criticised by the fans and the roman media for betraying Lazio with which he had a long-term contract and a supposed plan. Everyone at Lazio had had great faith in Mancini who was regarded as the man that can lift back the club to the glory winning years of a couple of seasons before. Instead attracted by the honour and challenge to coach such a big club full of stars and with big thirst for success and with the fact that Lazio's future was in big doubt due to heavy debts, Mancini opted to leave Rome and start a new adventure at Inter. The club's administration found itself in big chaos since despite losing the coach a number of players where willing to follow Mancini or leave for a bigger club. In January losing Stankovic to Inter in January, Favalli and Mihajlovic opted to follow their coach too. Stam had already a verbal agreement with AC Milan and despite Mancini's pressure to take him at Inter he still joined city-rivals AC Milan. Cesar too was attracted by Inter and was on the brink too leave but the two clubs still had to reach an agreement.

Lazio also had to solve its long-term that with Valencia and after months of negotiations an agreement was reached with the Spaniards to forgive the debts by giving them on free-transfer Corradi and Fiore. All this meant that club's technical strength was really weakened. However this was not the main headache for the club and the fans. Lazio's financial situation was still precarious and a solution was to be found quickly as the club's risked to be eligible to play in Serie A. Various initiatives where taken buy the fans to try to collect money but there was not much success. An investor was needed to take over the club and provide the necessary financial guarantees to secure the club's permanence in the top flight. Main politicians in some and the Lazio regions where too giving their helping hands by assuring benefits to those who invested in the club. Finally two investors namely Lotito and Tulli seemed interested seriously to take over the majority shares held by the bank Capitalia who had acquired the major shares to ensure the repayment of the amounts due to her by the club. Negotations by Capitalia with the two investors started frenetically. Lotito, an almost unknown Roman entrepreneur, was mainly backed the Lazio's region president and by the hard-core ultras while Tulli , president of the lower-divisions Roman club Lodigiani FC, did not found much support by the fans. After various days it was finally Lotito who had the best over his contender and become the major shareholder and thus president of the club. The fans celebrated the event since after almost one and a half-year from Cragnotti's resignation the club had a new major shareholder that could plan the club's future without Capitalia's intervention. By mid-July Lotito was in reign and his first job was to build a new squad and find a new coach. Time was limited and the players still in the squad started the pre-season under the youth nursery coach Mimmo Caso (ex Lazio skipper in the mid-eighties). Meanwhile rumuors where high that Di Canio was willing to return to Lazio after fifteen season away from the club. The fans and the press knowing Di Canio's love towards the Lazio shirt pressured Lotito to sign the 35 year Roman talent who had made much success in Britain . In few days after some negations between Lazio, the player and Charlton Athtletic, Di Canio was in Rome to be presented to the fans. Almost 5,000 gathered at the Formello training complex to welcome the new recruit. This move by Lotito gave the fans something to cheer about after weeks of disarray. Other recruits however where necessary to strengthen the squad. Rocchi was taken from Empoli while Pandev was on loan from Inter. Meanwhile after consulting the players, Lotito opted to give Caso the chance of his life by offering him to become full-time coach. Despite some sceptism by the fans and media Caso accepted the challenge despite having no experience at all at the top flight. The transfer window was almost ending and Lazio still had to enforce the squad until on the last day Lotito announced nine new players including some unknown South American younsgsters. The main acquisitions where in the midfield the Fillippini twins on loan from Palermo, defenders Siviglia and Sertic on loan from Parma, Oscar Lopez on loan from Bracellona while three Argentines Talamonti, Robert and Gonzalez together with Mea Vitali from Venezuela where practically unknown. Lazio 's season had started badly when in August Lazio's experimental side was crashed 3-0 by a Shevchenko hatrick that gave AC Milan the Italian Supercup.

The Serie A kicked of in September and despite the squad was still to be strenghtened by the end market recruits, Lazio went in Genoa and beat Sampdoria 1-0 thanks to a Di Canio penalty who had a row with Inzaghi before having the say and take the kick. His joy was indescribable after scoring again with the Lazio shirt after some a long time. During the week Lazio travelled to Donetsk in Ukraine to face Mettalurgh in the first leg of the first round of the Uefa cup. After almost an hour of Ukranian supremacy Lazio scored three times in the last fifteen minutes through a Cesar brace and a Pandev strike. The first Serie A home match was against relegation favourites Reggina. Lazio took the lead through Inzaghi again from the penalty spot until a Bonazzoli strike equalised for the southeners to the fans disappointment. Three days later the squad took revenge when in Brescia they beat the home side with two first half goals from new-boy Rocchi and veteran Couto. Milan in Rome were next and after a superb first half performance Laszio took the lead thanks to a Couto header but despite Milan found themselves with 10-men they overturned the score with two Schevchenko's strikes. Disappointment was evident in the clan. This was partially alleviated by the qualifaication of the group stage of the Uefa cup after the mid-week ctrashing of Metalurgh 3-0 in Rome with a Liverani brace and a Muzzi strike inside the first 30 minutes of the matchLazio next encounter was in Bergamo at bottom club Atalanta. The home side went infront and seemd destined to win until a late Muzzi strike salvaged a point. Another awful home-performance was registered against Chievo with the hosts winning 1-0. Four days later it was Villareal at home for the first match of the Uefa cup group stage. It was another shabby performance by the homeside which at least managed a late equaliser by Rocchi to salvage a point. The bad spell continued at Parma where against a struggling side, Lazio were outplayed and lost 3-1 with Rocchi scoring the solo-goal. Luckily October ended with two good results in four days. In the mid-week programme Lazio had their best performance so far and beat Messina 2-0 at home with goals from Manfredini and youngster De Sousa. The following Saturday Lazio travelled to Milan to face Inter coached by Mancini. Depsite being mostly outplayed by the home-side and going behind early in the second half, Lazio managed a late draw on a rare occasion thanks to header of Argentine defender Talamonti who met a well taken free-kick Oddo. A dramatic way to take revenge of Mancini and all the other ex-Lazio palyers who had abandoned the sinking ship the previous summer. The ups and downs continued even in November. Lazio started on a very negative note the month when it was dominated and beaten at Middlesbrough 2-0, in the second match of the Uefa cup group stage. A depleted Lazio side (due to injuries) gave the possibility to a couple of teenagers to make their first-team debut, but their inexperience and the ability of the opponents was too much for them. Moreover it was evident that the squad was not deep enough to play both Serie A and European football. Back to domestic action where at home Lazio were blocked on a 1-1 draw by lowly Siena. Couto had opened the score until Portanova (a Roman born and Lazio fan) equalised for the Tuscan side.Another Tuscan side, Livorno, was next for the light-blues. After over half a century the 'amaranto' were back in the top flight. Due to political reasons this match was highly felt by both sets of hard-core ultras and the atmosphere was like a derby. Livorno played better and won 1-0 with Lazio continuing their slide into relegation zone. Mimmo Caso, together with the medical staff, were targeted by the fans and media as the main culprits for the situation, with president Lotito defending the coach and the part-time doctors. An under pressure Lazio side faced Bologna a couple of days later at the Olimpico. Rocchi gave Lazio an early lead but Bologna fought back and equalised. Lazio hoerver, exercised a final pressure on the 'rossoblu' and was awarded a penalty which Di Canio transformed into the winner with just five minutes reamining, to give the team breath. It was time for Coppa Italia action. Lazio travelled at Cagliari for the first leg. In a boring match Lazio lost 2-1 with A Filippini scoring the important goal for the visitors. Uefa action resumed with the match against Partizan Belgrade at home. Lazio needed absolutely a win to revive its table position and hope in qualifying for the next stage. Despite performing well Lazio were unlucky and went 2-0 behind by half-time even thanks to a couple of unexplainable referee decisions. In the second half Lazio made a comeback and equalised through Di Canio and Inzaghi but did not manage to score the winner jeopardising its qualification hopes. Misery continued even in Serie A matches where Lazio lost another home-match against Cagliari who had not won an away match so far. Despite Pandev gave an early lead the Sardininas lead by Zola score three times to succumb the home-side who scored a useless late penalty by Oddo. Pressure on coach Caso was again high and escalated when Lazio were elimated from the Uefa cup after a two-all draw in Greece against Egaleo, Muzzi scoring a rare-brace. A couple of days later Lazio travelled to Turin to face league-leaders Juventus with little hope to get something out of it. Surprisingly Lazio went ahead after 12 minutes thanks to a fantastic solo-effort by Macedonian striker Goran Pandev who dribbled with ease a couple of defenders before beating Buffon with a superb strike. This goal awakened Juventus and from then onwards the 'bianconeri' created several chances until they equalised through Emerson and scored a winner thanks to Ibrahimovic. Despite an awful league standing president Lotito still exercised confidence on Caso. The match at home against attaking-minded Lecce was expected to give Lazio valuable three points. However the visitors under the guide of ex-mentor Zdenek Zeman, produced a fantastic first half display that gave them a deserved two goal lead by half-time. In the second half Lecce continued to attack leaving Lazio space for counter attacks. Lecce's awful defense permitted both Rocchi and the Di Canio to equalise, but Lecce soon regained the lead until Di Canio struck again to secure at least a point for the hosts. The last match before the traditional Christmas break was at Udinese and this proved to be fatal for coach Mimmo Caso. Infact Lazio were easily crashed by the 'Friulani' 3-0 and were much more deep in relegation zone. The fans and media were in uproar and demanded Caso's head. It was now a fact that much of the players had turned their back to the coach especially after the severe row with charismatic leader Di Canio. Caso was sacked a couple of days later by Lotito who however thanked Mimmo for his professionality. Later on Giuseppe Papadopulo (another ex-Lazio player) was announced as new coach. His baptism of fire was nothing less than the derby agaisnt arch-city rivals AS Roma. In the mean time the players were having their Christmas holidays.
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The Season 2004/05 (part 1)
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