Lazio in turmoil: Making sense of Reja’s potential return

When Vladimir Petković took over as Lazio boss in June 2012, the task at hand was considerable at the Stadio Olimpico.

The man he replaced, Edoardo ‘Edy’ Reja had worked wonders at the capital city club and had transformed the fortunes of i Biancoceleste over his two-and-a-half years in charge.

The veteran manager lifted the club out of relegation danger at the end of the 2009-10 season, before ensuring fifth and fourth placed finishes in his two full seasons in charge.

Despite outspoken president Claudio Lotito begging Reja to stay on at Lazio, he walked away from the club inexplicably in the summer of 2012.

Petković was something of a surprise appointment as his replacement, and has struggled to repeat the performances of his predecessor. A seventh placed finish was something of a disappointment for an ambitious Lazio side last season, but the campaign was salvaged by historic Coppa Italia success over bitter rivals Roma.

This season Lazio have looked toothless, and have only won five of their 17 games. Sitting in 10th place, the heady days of Reja’s reign where the Stadio Olimpico side challenged for Champions League qualification seem like a distant memory.

Over the last month, the underperforming club has been the laughing stock of Italian football as managerial madness takes hold. The rumours of Petković’s job being on the line were starting to gather pace, only for the 50-year-old to announce that he would take over as Switzerland national coach after Ottmar Hitzfeld stepped down following this summer’s World Cup.

The move has obviously angered Lotito and the Lazio fans, while Petković has stressed that he is committed to the Serie A side until the end of the season.

Edoardo RejaAs things stand at the time of writing, with uncertainty about the state of play at Lazio, a return for popular head coach Reja looks heavily on the cards. Despite Petković’s assurance that he is still Lazio’s boss and will be until the end of the season, it is believed that Reja has already returned to the club and has taken player training over the last three days.

The 68-year-old former Napoli coach has given the Italian media a brief comment suggesting that he will be back in the helm in the very near future, with Petković’s time at the club seemingly numbered.

Petković’s handling of his acceptance of the Switzerland job has been nothing short of disastrous, and he can have no complaints about being shown the door after the scandal added to poor domestic form.

For Reja, if and when he is confirmed as the new manager of the club, a significant challenge awaits the returning maestro. When he took over at the Stadio Olimpico the first time he had to guide Lazio to a revival in fortunes, and as it stands they are much closer to the bottom of the table than the top currently.

Reja has a number of top players to work with, such as Hernanes, Antonio Candreva, an ageing Miroslav Klose and Federico Marchetti, but the side needs investment in January and next summer.

There is no doubt that Reja has the ability to turn Lazio’s fate around; he has done it before. However, for the time being i Biancoceleste look destined to finish below a resurgent Roma for the second consecutive season.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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