James Hornacstle of Channel4 brings an editorial arguing whether Lazio can surprise everyone and break into the top-four. In case you missed it, I am bringing the entire text below. Here you can find the original.
“The world is grown so bad,” wrote William Shakespeare in Richard III. “That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.” Lazio fans are all too familiar with that sentiment. Four years after winning the Scudetto in 2000, the Aquilotti were practically extinct, crippled under £140m worth of debt. When Claudio Lotito took over the club in 2004, he said: “I bought Lazio at her funeral and have brought her back to life albeit in an irreversible coma.”
The meaning of his words was not lost on Biancocelesti supporters. Lazio could never go back, at least under Lotito anyway, to the carefree spending and financial largesse that typified the Sergio Cragnotti era. To them Lotito meant the end of Lazio as a force in Italian football and a return to the poverty of the `80s, a decade in which the Aquilotti’s highest finish in Serie A was ninth.
And yet Lazio are top of table in September 2008. Now, I know the season is only a week old, but isn’t it time the Biancocelesti were taken seriously again? They participated in the Champions League last year after a 15 game unbeaten run between December 2006 and April 2007 allowed them to finish in third place. An achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact they started the season on -3 points.
Last year was a write off, predominantly because of off the field matters. An investigation revealed that the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia, tried to buy the club. The inquiry also proved embarrassing for Coach Delio Rossi as wiretaps were produced as evidence allegedly showed him “trying to induce” Lotito to use a meeting with Lecce in 2005 to influence the performance of the Giallorossi ahead of a League match with Lazio.
Rossi was suspended for three games at the end of last season and he’ll resume his place on the bench after the Biancocelesti’s game against Sampdoria on 19 September. That should signal the beginning of a more stable Lazio that will be able to get the consistency of the 2006-07 season back.
The exit of dressing room stirrers Guglielmo Stendardo, Valon Behrami and Luciano Zauri will also help the dynamic. But above all it is Lotito’s shrewd spending that will serve Lazio in good stead over the next nine months. He has cleverly invested £18m in 11 players, most notably Mauro Zarate, whose partnership with Goran Pandev could prove to be one of the best in Serie A. Every department has been strengthened either through the market or the promotion of promising youngsters like Alessandro Tuia and Mobido Diakite.
That’s much better business than spending £36m on one player as Lazio did on Hernan Crespo in 2000 and hopefully presages a marked improvement on last year’s 12th place.