Football: Zoff facing the threat of a Roman holiday: Lazio's president is fast running out of patience. Rupert Metcalf reports

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The Independent Online
WHILE English football followers have been diverted by the managerial merry-go-round at Lancaster Gate and Goodison Park, Italy's tifosi are awaiting developments in the corridors of power at Lazio. Sergio Cragnotti, the Roman club's president, yesterday dropped the latest of several hints that Dino Zoff, his coach, may soon be looking for alternative employment.

Cragnotti effectively dismissed his club's chances of sustaining a Serie A championship challenge, the day after Lazio lost 4-1 at Foggia - a game which saw a red card for the Lazio defender, Giuseppe Favalli, and a booking for England's Paul Gascoigne.

'This team doesn't have the winning mentality that I want it to have,' Cragnotti said. 'Having gone two goals down, the team tried to fight back but after scoring the goal that made it 2-1, we sat back and opted to try and strike on the counter attack. That's not what we wanted at all: what good was a draw to us?

'I was looking for a win but instead I got a severe drubbing which signals a definite re-assessment of our ambitions. Whatever else, we had better forget the title contest.'

Cragnotti has spent about pounds 41m in the last two years, trying to assemble a side capable of challenging Milan at the top of the table. After Sunday's loss, Lazio are in fifth place, six points behind the leaders, Milan, at the half-way stage of the season. Their chances of winning the title for the first time since their only triumph in 1974 now look remote, despite Zoff being allowed to spend a fortune on Gascoigne, Aron Winter, Alen Boksic, Giuseppe Signori, Pierluigi Casiraghi, Diego Fuser and others.

Zdenek Zeman, the Czech coach of Foggia, has been linked with a move to Lazio in the summer. However, he has also been mentioned as a candidate for a possible vacancy at Internazionale, whose coach, Osvaldo Bagnoli, is another man under pressure after his side lost at Reggiana on Sunday - their third defeat in eight days.