The six managers who completed three seasons in charge of Roma

Roma have had various managers throughout their history, with some relatively successful names still not getting too long in the job.

When this article was originally published, Jose Mourinho was about to embark on his third season in charge of the club, with worries about whether he would be staying now a thing of the distant past.

However, Mourinho failed to manage to see out his original contract with Roma until June 2024, losing his job two-and-a-half years into his spell.

It meant he did not join a select group of coaches to have spent three uninterrupted seasons on the touchline for the club.

Here are those who did.

It should be noted that only managers who completed three full seasons are included here, ruling out someone like Alfred Schaffer, the first man to lead Roma to the Serie A title, since he was in charge during four separate seasons but came in midway through the first and lost his job midway through the last, so only completed two full campaigns.

Likewise, if a manager has had more than one spell in charge of Roma, they would only feature here if one of those spells was for three full seasons or more in itself.

Luigi Barbesino

Only the second Italian manager to take charge of Roma, Luigi Barbesino inherited the reins from Hungarian Lajos Kovacs in 1933. He immediately maintained their fifth-place finish in Serie A and was the only Roma coach to ever benefit from the prolific goalscoring exploits of Enrique Guaita.

It was after Guaita’s departure from the club in 1935 that Barbesino embarked on his third season in charge and led Roma to second place in Serie A for just the second time since their formation in 1927.

His fourth and final season saw Roma’s league position drop to 10th, but Barbesino became the first manager to lead the club to the Coppa Italia final, which they lost to Genoa in his final game in charge.

Oronzo Pugliese

It took until the 1960s for Roma to retain the services of a single manager for three seasons again. In 1965, Oronzo Pugliese was appointed to improve the fortunes of a side that had finished ninth in Serie A.

Ever so slightly, he achieved the task at the first time of asking, finishing eighth at the end of the 1965-66 season. Despite adding future captain Joaquin Peiro to their squad, Roma’s placing decreased to 10th the following campaign, but they stuck with Pugliese for a third attempt.

It wasn’t to be third time lucky, though, since Roma – even after the boost provided by the tragic Giuliano Taccola up front in his debut season – came 10th again. Thus, in 1968, a new era began, with the club presidency changing hands and the new decision makers aiming big by appointing Helenio Herrera as Pugliese’s replacement.

Nils Liedholm (twice)

Undoubtedly the most iconic manager in Roma’s history was Nils Liedholm, the man who masterminded their second Scudetto win in 1983.

Before that, he had commenced a first spell in charge of the club from December 1973, steering the club to an eighth-place finish before getting three full seasons, in which Roma came third, 10th and seventh.

There were no honours in Liedholm’s first spell, but this time was notable for their first entry into the UEFA Cup, plus the emergence of future title-winning captain Agostino Di Bartolomei, who had debuted in the season before the Swedish tactician’s arrival and whose illustrious story with the club was inextricably linked with his manager’s.

Liedholm left Roma in 1977 but was back two years later and reaped the rewards of the club’s patience. He won the Coppa Italia in the first two seasons since his return, and famously lifted the Scudetto at the end of his fourth.

The next year, he became the first manager to guide Roma in five consecutive seasons, with the team finishing as runners up in the European Cup and Serie A before winning the Coppa Italia and bringing the curtains down on what can almost certainly be romanticised as the most glorious era in the club’s history.

In later years, he had two more spells on the touchline, but neither lasted for three years again.

Carlo Mazzone

One of Francesco Totti’s favourite coaches, Rome-born Carlo Mazzone took charge of the club he supported in 1993, a few months after Er Pupone’s debut.

Mazzone had previously made two appearances as a player for Roma himself in the 1958-59 season, but became more noted for his work in the dugout.

During his debut season, the Franco Sensi presidency began and Roma finished seventh in Serie A, relying on the goals of newcomer Abel Balbo.

The following campaign, Mazzone led Roma into the UEFA Cup by coming fifth in the league, with Balbo becoming even more prolific and Totti getting his first handful of goals for the club.

Roma repeated the fifth-place finish in 1995-96 and reached the quarter-finals of the aforementioned European tournament. Without a trophy, Mazzone’s tenure subsequently ended as he made way for the ill-fated Carlos Bianchi (who put Totti’s career at the club at risk until Sensi intervened), but he remained one of the more fondly remembered coaches from the era since Liedholm’s second spell.

Fabio Capello

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Roma meant business as the turn of the century approached, bringing back former midfielder Fabio Capello (who had made 90 appearances for the club between 1967 and 1970 and had already won four Scudetti as manager of AC Milan) to take over from Zdenek Zeman.

The Capello project took a bit of time, since the 1999-2000 season ended with Lazio winning the league and Roma coming sixth. But the following season, things emphatically changed for the better.

In the summer, Roma strengthened Capello’s squad with the club-record signing of Gabriel Batistuta, plus other useful additions like Walter Samuel and Emerson. By the end of Capello’s second season, they were champions of Italy for the third time in their history.

Later in 2001, Roma added the Supercoppa Italiana to their cabinet, before Capello’s third season included their first adventure into the Champions League. This time, though, they finished second in Serie A, rather than managing to defend their crown.

Nevertheless, Capello completed a fourth and fifth season in charge of Roma, making him the only man other than Liedholm to do so. Roma were runners up in Serie A again in his last, before a controversial departure for Juventus preceded a campaign in which the club had four different managers.

Luciano Spalletti

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The man to restore some stability to Roma after the turbulence of 2004-05 was Luciano Spalletti, whose Udinese side had finished above the Giallorossi that year.

Spalletti immediately got Roma back into the Champions League; after the consequences of the Calciopoli scandal, they were lifted from fifth to second in the standings.

As the Italian football landscape transformed, Spalletti’s inspired tactics kept Roma near the top, securing another runners-up spot in the 2006-07 league table and winning the Coppa Italia, while Totti outscored every other player in European football.

The Coppa Italia trophy was retained the following season, which had begun with another honour in the shape of the Supercoppa Italiana. Spalletti’s fourth term, 2008-09, was less successful as external issues began to creep up. Because of their financial issues, Roma had to deprive Spalletti of key players like Alberto Aquilani, who was sold to Liverpool.

The increasingly challenging circumstances would ultimately lead to Spalletti’s resignation and replacement by Claudio Ranieri in September 2009, before he came back to the club for another spell between January 2016 and June 2017 – initially denying the sacked Rudi Garcia the chance to complete his third season in charge of Roma in the process – which culminated with a record points total for the club in Serie A but no further trophies.

Overshadowed by his fall-out with the retiring Totti, Spalletti’s position as head coach became untenable despite his positive results, so he left after just one-and-a-half seasons second time around.

Since then, Roma have had Eusebio Di Francesco for one-and-a-half seasons, Ranieri again for three months, Paulo Fonseca for two seasons and Mourinho – the only coach since Spalletti to win a trophy for La Magica – for two-and-a-half.

This article was originally published on 19th July, 2023 and has been updated since.

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