”Andrea, I need you to come to my office as soon as possible please, there is an urgent matter I would like to discuss with you.” Beep. The voicemail ended. The curtain had drawn on our Serie A campaign only five days ago with a very convincing 4-1 victory over Bologna, but the media reports had been heavily circulating that I was going to be replaced. Max Allegri, the man who had brought so much success to this club when I was a player was the name being linked to replace me. Was this going to be it, was this the conversation where I was going to be told I was no longer required by the club?
That walk to Mr Agnelli’s office had been a frequent one over the course of the season. We’d had a constant line of dialogue over the course of a challenging few months about the progress the team were making on the pitch and up until now I’d always had Andrea Agnelli’s support. Until now.
It felt like it took forever for Agnelli to answer the knock on his door too, but answer he did. ”Come on in,” came the voice from behind the door. ”Ah, Andrea, come on in, sit down, make yourself comfortable. Somewhat unnervingly, he was smiling, despite the rather serious tone he had on the voicemail he had left me.
We exchanged pleasantries, asking how each other were, how the families were doing, the usual before he put his hands together and almost like a cartoon villain, his face turned serious. ”Now, the reason I asked you here. It’s not going to be easy for you to hear I’m afraid Andrea.”
I felt my face turn from one that was modestly uncomfortable to one that became very uncomfortable and very confused. I couldn’t bare waiting any longer. ”What is it? Has something happened?” I blurted out.
”Unfortunately, Andrea, yes. Yesterday evening, after you had gone home, Mr Tudor and Mr Paratici came to my office and asked for an urgent meeting.”
“It would seem they are very unhappy with you and how the team has performed this season. They requested that I sack you immediately and put Igor in charge. They were very firm in their belief that you had not done well enough this year and that they could do a much better job.”
“Mr Tudor, even went as far as to claim that there was workplace bullying on your part and that you had treated him as inferior. It all felt rather mutinous if you ask me. Are you ok, Andrea?”
He had obviously seen that the colour had drained from my skin, I had felt it do so and there was no a glaring pit in my stomach, accompanied by a feeling of betrayal. Me and Igor Tudor, my assistant manager, had had our disagreements over the course of the season, but I had felt that we had always been able to move past them and they were nothing more than two professionals butting heads on how best to approach the next game, or who should be playing where. By finishing fourth in Serie A last year it felt that we were on good terms. To hear that he had called for my head hurt, a lot.
”Not particularly, is that why I’m here? To dismiss me? Because I do believe we’re on the right track. I know we didn’t get things right a lot last year, but we’ve made progress and next year will be a much better year. I could not believe that more firmly!” I told Mr Agnelli.
”No, no, not at all Andrea. You have my backing heading into the summer. If I speak for the club, we are behind you. I just wanted to make you aware of the situation. If it were up to me, I would want to sort it quickly and resolve this mutiny straight away, but as he is your assistant, I want to leave it in your court.”
“If you feel the working relationship can continue after this, then I am more than happy for Igor and Fabio to continue working here, so long as there are no more mentions of sacking you so that they can benefit. It is up to you.”
My head was racing. It would have been much easier if Mr Agnelli had made the decision there and then rather than leaving it up to me. But that is the life of a manager. You have to make tough decisions and this most certainly was. I asked if I was alright to leave and made my way to the door.
”You’ll have my decision by this afternoon Andrea.” I told the club’s chairman, closing the door behind me as I made my way back to my own office, the feeling of betrayal right at the surface like a knife in the back.
Next Update: #2 Arrivederci