New Lecce coach Luca Gotti finds the role ‘exciting’ in the thick of the relegation battle, but will not condemn predecessor Roberto D’Aversa for the headbutt on Verona player Thomas Henry.

The decision to sack D’Aversa was made on Monday after the shocking incident when the coach walked over to a group of players following the final whistle and aimed a headbutt at Henry.

He was formally replaced by ex-Udinese coach Gotti today and there was a presentation press conference alongside director of sport Pantaleo Corvino.

“I wish to just take 30 seconds regarding D’Aversa. I know him well, he was my player many years ago,” said Gotti.

“Along with having a strong personality, he also has a brain that works. So what happened on Sunday was a moment of frustration, but I can assure you he has a brain and it works very well.”

Lecce had a strong start to the season, but have slipped down the standings to 16th place on 25 points, just one clear of the drop zone.

They lost nine of their last 12 matches, so the headbutt was the final straw, but D’Aversa had already been teetering on the edge.

It is an extraordinarily tight battle to avoid relegation, other than seemingly doomed Salernitana.

“It is fascinating and exciting from the outside. Obviously, when you are inside it, you see things differently and the tension weighs on your shoulders,” said Gotti.

“You have to realise all 10 games are very important, that is the beauty of this sport.”

Although Gotti rescued Udinese after taking over mid-season, it was not this late in the day.

“It is a very short run, only 10 rounds, so things have to be evaluated differently. The important thing is that I don’t do any damage!”

Gotti has been out of work for this season, but there was also a good reason to take time out.

“I must say that 2023 was a difficult year for me, I had two invasive operations. One was in July, which meant I could not accept the offers I had received. After eight months on crutches, I am back to normal now.”

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