New Juventus boss Antonio Conte was once asked what elements his ideal Coach would be made up of. "Arrigo Sacchi for the way he would teach the game," the then budding tactician kicked off with. "In terms of looking after the dressing room I would have to say Marcello Lippi and Carlo Ancelotti, while Giovanni Trapattoni was good at human relations. Meanwhile, there was nobody better than the infallible Eugenio Fascetti and Carlo Mazzone at reading the game from the bench."
At the time, Conte didn't mention Giampiero Ventura, but there is no doubt that the veteran tactician, who will boss Antonio's city cousins Torino next term, has been an influence in the coaching career of the former Juve midfielder.
It was during a Serie B clash between Conte's Bari and Ventura's Pisa where the former Italian international got a front row seat of what the Tuscan outfit were capable of. The Nerazzurri's teamsheet said 4-4-2, but it read 4-2-4 in a shape reminiscent of Brazil's 1958 World Cup winning side.
There was no Pele of course in that Pisa team, but its attractive style and offensive capabilities impressed the Lecce-born tactician so much that he had to compliment his ultra-experienced colleague after the final whistle. "That day Conte said that he learnt something from my book of football," Ventura, who has become the ninth Torino boss of Urbano Cairo's confused reign, recalled with satisfaction.
The similarities between the tactical philosophies of the duo, who both have two Serie A promotions on their CV, quickly became evident. Conte has fielded an elastic 4-4-2 for much of his coaching career to date, while it didn't take a genius to figure out whom Bari would go in search of after Conte quit the club just weeks following promotion to Serie A.
"When Conte was first linked with an exit, I did hope that I would be offered the chance to take over here at Bari," Ventura stated at his official unveiling in 2009. "I knew that it would be natural to lead this squad of players. My collaborators and I would often watch Bari while we were at Pisa and we'd see similar movements to my project. My football is similar to his? Perhaps it's the other way around…"
Bari 'keeper Jean-Francois Gillet seemed to add credence to that suggestion. "When Conte arrived he used to talk to us a lot about Ventura," said the Belgian. "That provided us with a good base to start from with the new Coach. The results are there for everyone to see."
The southern minnows, masterminded by The Lustful Coach as he was baptised for his exciting brand of football, excelled in the 2009-10 top-flight. That miraculous Bari side, which launched the careers of Andrea Ranocchia and Leonardo Bonucci in the big time, finished Serie A in tenth with a club record 50 points.
Mirroring such success this time around proved to be impossible for Ventura, even though he wasn't the sole reason for their demise. They lost their best players over the summer and a string of injuries clipped the Galletti's wings to such a degree that the 63-year-old quit in February with the club stranded at the bottom of the table.
Meanwhile, in Serie B, Conte rejuvenated his career following a very brief spell at Atalanta where he decided to take on fan favourite Cristiano Doni and lost. He led Siena back into the top-flight and was rewarded with his dream job – that to Coach his beloved Bianconeri – at the age of just 41.
Next season Conte and Ventura will be separated by two rival clubs and two Divisions, but united by one footballing creed. If they can deliver their promise of entertainment then the city of Turin won't be a bad place to watch your football in 2011-12.
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