Lippi pays price for Inter failure

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The Independent Football

Marcello Lippi became the first coaching casualty of the Serie A season yesterday, when he was sacked by Internazionale just two days after the club's humiliating opening-game defeat to lowly Reggina.

Marcello Lippi became the first coaching casualty of the Serie A season yesterday, when he was sacked by Internazionale just two days after the club's humiliating opening-game defeat to lowly Reggina.

Lippi lashed out at his players after the 2-1 loss on Sunday, saying he was ashamed of their performance and describing them as "spoilt children". He went on to say: "Today, if I was the president, I would dismiss the coach and line the players up against a wall and give them all a kick up the backside." His recommendation has come true, in one respect at least.

Lippi's outburst was the latest sign that he was on a collision course both with his demoralised players and with the Italian club's management. The Inter president, Massimo Moratti - who is trying to imitate the success of his father who ran the club during their heyday in the Sixties - summoned the 52-year-old coach to his offices yesterday afternoon and terminated his contract. The outcome had been widely predicted in the Italian media - before the encounter, Moratti had said that Lippi's insults simply inflamed an already difficult situation.

Lippi took over at Inter in July 1999 after leading Juventus to three European Cup finals, winning once, and three Serie A titles, in just over four years in charge. Hopes that he would bring the same success to the San Siro had not been fulfilled despite a huge spending campaign (which included the £13m purchase of Robbie Keane from Coventry) and his side had already been knocked out of the Champions' League by the Swedish side Helsingborg before the defeat at Reggina.

Lippi's man-management skills have been called into question before and he left Turin after a similar fall-out with his players. But he only arrived at Inter at the start of last season and has had major injury problems ever since, with the Brazilian Ronaldo missing for more than a year and the Italian striker Christian Vieri also out and not expected back until Christmas.

Possible successors include Daniel Passarella, the former coach of Argentina, currently in charge of the Uruguay national team, and Marco Tardelli, the coach of Italy's Under-21 side.

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