MILAN (Reuters) - Cagliari fired coach Rolando Maran on Tuesday after an 11-match winless run in Serie A sent them plummeting from fourth to 11th in the table, and named much-travelled former Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga in his place.
Maran, who had been in charge for a little more than a season and a half, was sacked two days after a 4-3 home defeat against AS Roma and four days after a glowing tribute to his work from club president Tommaso Giulini.
The Sardinian club said on its website that it had “revoked Maran’s responsibility” for coaching the team. Two of his assistants were also dismissed.
“To them go the most heartfelt thanks for the competence, seriousness and professionalism shown since their first day in Sardinia,” it added after the 13th coaching change of the Serie A season. Zenga’s appointment at the 19th club of his coaching career was confirmed in another statement several hours later.
There seemed little hint that Maran’s job was in danger in an interview given by Giulini to the Nuova Sardegna newspaper on Friday.
“I’ve had the good fortune to meet a real man who brings with him a great work culture,” Giulini said. “Before I took him on, I had a very positive opinion of him. But after seeing him work, my esteem has grown even more.”
The turning point in Cagliari’s season appeared to come on Dec. 16 when they led Lazio 1-0 in a match that could have lifted them within one point of their rivals, who were third at the time.
Instead, Lazio scored twice in stoppage time to snatch a 2-1 victory and Cagliari have not won since.
Lazio now lead Serie A on 62 points, 30 ahead of a Cagliari side now closer to the relegation zone, in points terms, than the top four.
Zenga, 59, played for Italy at the 1988 European championship and 1990 World Cup and won one Serie A and two UEFA Cup titles with Inter Milan.
His coaching career, which has taken him to the United States, Romania, Turkey, Serbia, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia as well as Italy has been less successful with several spells of less than a year.
His last stint in Serie A was with Crotone in 2017/18 when they were relegated.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by David Goodman and Clare Fallon