After Associazione Sportiva Roma began play in 1927, there have been many players and managers to be part of the club. Roma has been regarded as one of the more prestigious teams in Italy, and a staple of Serie A for decades. Out of those many managers, though, which ones are regarded as the best?
Though it was hard to narrow it down to just five since there have been so many, most of which have had short stints, we feel that these five men set the bar. Before we start the list, some of the managers who just missed the cut include Luigi Barbesino, Alfredo Foni, Jose Mourinho, Angelo Sormani, and Carlo Mazzone.
We start the list with a man whose playing and managerial careers were finished by the end of World War II. Alfred Schaffer hailed from what was then Austria-Hungary and played for a long list of professional teams in the 1910s. His longest stint came with MTK, and he wrapped up in the United States with the New York Giants. Schaffler managed several teams in the following decades, joining AS Roma in 1940 where he remained until 1942.
During the 1940-41 season, Schaffler’s Roma squad finished as runner-up. The following year, the club achieved even more success as it won the Serie A title, finishing with 42 points to put them ahead of Torino and Venezia. Just after winning the title, Schaffler left for Ferencvaros, his final stop before his death in 1945.
Swedish native Sven-Goran Eriksson didn’t spend his playing days at the highest level of football, but he did have a nearly decade-long career. Eriksson retired in 1973 and went into coaching, landing his first managerial job in 1977 with Degerfors IF. After stops with IFK Goteborg and Benfica, Eriksson became Roma’s manager for three years and also went on to manage several national teams, as well as Manchester City and Leicester City.
Eriksson had 125 total matches as the Roma manager, winning 58 of them. He lost just 31 times, too, giving him a 46.4% total winning rate. Though his list of trophies is brief, Eriksson was able to win the 1985-86 Coppa Italia title. When talking about being a manager in Serie A, Eriksson said “It was the best period of my career.”
The first manager on the list who spent time playing for Roma is Fabio Capello, who was with the squad for 62 appearances from 1967 to 1970. After spending the 1970s with Juventus and A.C. Milan, he returned to the latter’s coaching staff and was the manager for much of the 1990s. He ended the decade by being named the Roma manager and was there from 1999 to 2004.
Capello is one of just a handful of managers to lead Roma to a Serie A title, doing so in the 2000-01 season. Prior to that, he had won four with Milan, so he proved it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Capello also won the 2001 Supercoppa Italiana. Overall, Capello had 241 matches as Roma’s manager and put up 1.78 points per game in that time.
For a decade between the 1980s and 1990s, Luciano Spalletti played with several teams, but he’s more known for his work as a manager since the mid-1990s. Spalletti had short stints with several clubs including Empoli and Venezia, then managed Udinese from 2002 to 2005. This led to his first stint as Roma manager from 2005 to 2009, and he added a second run from 2016 to 2017.
Spalletti managed Roma for more matches than any other club in his career, with 224 total. 122 of those ended with a Roma victory, giving him a 54.46 winning percentage. In his tenure, Spalletti didn’t win the Serie A title, but he did win the Coppa Italia twice and in 2007 won the Supercoppa Italiana.
Without a doubt, the most accomplished manager in AS Roma history is Nils Liedholm, a Swedish native who is well known for having several tenures as a manager with Italian clubs. After his long playing career with Milan, he became their manager in 1963. Liedholm was the Milan manager three times and the Verona manager twice. As for Roma, Liedholm had three different tenures from 1973-77, 1979-84, and 1987-89.
During that time, Liedholm was able to win many of the major trophies. This included winning Serie A in the 1982-83 season to go along with his three Coppa Italia titles. Liedholm nearly won a European Cup, as well, finishing as the 1984 runner-up. Overall, Liedholm managed 212 matches, earning 1.85 points per game over that span.