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You’re Fired, And Just To Show I’m Serious, You’re Rehired

SALERNO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 16: Davide Nicola US Salernitana's new coach and Danilo Iervolino US Salernitana president during a press conference on February 16, 2022 in Salerno, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images|

Nicola and Iervolino at the coach’s first hiring.

If Danilo Iervolino, president at Serie A club Salernitana, has any sense of humor at all, he will fire manager Davide Nicola after Saturday's expected loss to league leader Napoli. After all, he just fired him from the same job Monday, so he ought to get a chance to do it properly this time.

Yes, because this is Italian soccer, and yes, because everyone in Italian soccer is as mad as the brutes who designed the CVS pharmacy receipt, Nicola was in fact fired Monday, the day after an 8-2 loss to Atalanta. Not a big deal, really; Salernitana is 16th in the 20-team Serie A table, hasn't won since Oct. 30, and is in Italy, where coaches get replaced like socks. So Nicola being fired was not a surprise, because he'd been there 11 entire months.

Two days later, he was rehired by Iervolino because, again, Italy. And soccer.

Rehiring someone you fired two days earlier is not actually unprecedented. Eddie DeBartolo fired Bill Walsh maybe five times during the 10 years Walsh was making the San Francisco 49ers a repeat champion; DeBartolo changed his mind before the press ever got wind of any of them, usually after a night's sleep. Nicola himself was fired and rehired by Livorno three months apart in 2014, so he knows not to unplug his phone, or pull a Kliff Kingsbury and go off to Thailand after being fired by the Arizona Cardinals.

If there is a weird twist here, it is in Iervolino going public with the firing and not being bashful about going just as public with the rehiring in that deliciously Mediterranean style. Iervolino isn't the bashful type, and Nicola isn't the grudge-bearing type, and their public reconciliation in the footprints of their nasty breakup is, well, a lesson for our time, I guess. It's no sin to announce that you just can't quit the guy you just quit two days ago, and it's definitely better when your makeup presser includes the following sentences:

"It was the only way we could clear the air. So for the good of the club, the players and everything, it's only right that the coach has another chance, with the promise the team will never again suffer such a humiliating defeat."

And . . .

"You only realize how much you love someone when they leave."

This is an DAZN/Hallmark Channel joint, is what this is.

Then again, this is the true beauty of even non-Italian soccer, where you get stories like this:

Yeah, it's exactly like it reads. West Ham is apparently ready to fire manager David Moyes for a second time if the Hammers lose to dreadful Everton, in which case he would immediately become the favorite to replace Everton manager Frank Lampard when he gets fired. And because English soccer is its own tire fire, Moyes coached at Everton a decade ago. He must be a hell of a good guy when the people telling him to get lost tell him they love him and want him back later.

Sure, that seems a bit overwrought, but those who remember the five times that George Steinbrenner hired and fired Billy Martin as manager in the 1980s tells us that some managers have the gift of mesmerizing the bosses they offend, and some owners forget what they did 15 minutes ago.

More likely, though, this kind of breakup/makeup impetuousness is a specifically Italian quirk. Who can forget Palermo in 2015–16 when its boss, Maurizio Zamperini, hired and fired Giuseppe Iachini, Davide Ballardini, Fabio Viviani, Giovanni Tedesco, Giovanni Bosi, Iachini again, Walter Novellino, Ballardini again, Roberto De Zerbi, and Eugenio Corini, and tried to hire a 11th who couldn't get his coaching certificate cleared by the Italian FA. By the way, Corini is back managing the team now, with only 12 guys hired and fired between him. In all, Palermo has made 56 coaching changes since 2000, including nine guys who had the job at least twice and one, Francesco Guidolin, who had it four times.

Based on this chaos theory, Danilo Iervolino is either nothing out of the ordinary or the most zen boss ever—although it's even money that he revisits Nicola's employment again, and soon. Love, after all, means never having to say, "No, I mean it this time. You're fired. Shove off. I can't stand to look at you, and take your stupid family with you. Oh, and stay where I can reach you. You never know, right?"

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