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Riots of Rome (Short)

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RIOTS OF ROME

 

It has been over a year since the infamous Riots of Rome which seen the destruction to parts of the city not seen since the war torn days of the second World War. We seen both the beautiful and ugly side of the game which coincided in two months of mayhem that left an unprecedented amount of carnage in our beautiful capital.

So when reports surfaced through an unofficial leak last month, people feared the worst, they battened down the hatches, boarding went up, the Government and Police were on the front foot once they received word and to everyone's credit who was involved originally they put a stop to what could have been.

We know the saying that 'Rome wasn't built in a day', but now over 14 months on from those fateful days in May and June of 2025 we can say that it hasn't quite been rebuilt in year either there is still things to be done even now, so imagine if you will if events had of stirred up again.

For me, I could not bear it again and so with everyone's blessing we will start this 6 part document detailing the events surrounding the Riots of Rome.

Italian Football had been steadily on the improve, from the days of corruption back in 2006 we embarked through the turmoil to see the crowds return to the game and Italian football climb the ranks once again and be well regarded for the most part.

Juventus were taking the league by storm, 12 successive years of titles from 2011/12 to 2022/23 ended in 2023/24 season after some financial irregularity's seen the Italian game once again hit the front page in Europe. Thankfully it was an oversight from the club, but still they paid the price with expulsion from Europe's best competitions and someone looking deeply into their books.

In truth Juventus had struggled in continental football, with Allegri and Conte at the helm they had taken trophy after trophy at home but their best effort in the Champions League was a Quarter final place where they lost to eventual winners Liverpool in 2021 but that is another story.

With Juventus dotting the I's and crossing the T's so to speak, it seen the pack catch up and a renewed interest in Italian Football, with that teams like Internazionale, AS Roma, AC Milan, Lazio, Napoli, Fiorentina and Sampdoria were now likely contenders

AC Milan had cleared house and Rafa Benitez came in February 2023, he had a 4 months to get to know the players and work on things and he had good results in the few months and had got them into 4th spot.

Lazio has sacked their incumbent manager Alberto Bollini after poor results and had replaced him with Red Star FC manager Matt Panpardus.

Sampdoria had brought in Faith Terim for Robert Donadoni and the rest of contenders seemed quite settled, that was off course with the exception of  Napoli, a disagreement between the board and Pep Guardiola had seen the Spaniard leave at the end of the season despite a 6th place finish with some heavy injuries to key players it was considered a good result, however Ivan Lenko replaced Pep, he came with a good pedigree having won the Jupiler Pro league back to back with Club Brugge in Belgium so there was optimism as well.

As we know the 2023/24 season proved the catalyst for change, AC Milan and Rafa Benitez were runaway winners by 21 points, Juventus slipped to 5th and clubs like AS Roma, Napoli, Sampdoria slipped to the lower tables, Genoa were the surprise packets finishing 4th, Inter 3rd and Lazio finished in 2nd.

SS Lazio Roma is where the story starts and ends, so in Part 2 we will look at their season and start to see what lead to the Riots of Rome.

 

 

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Hi everyone, this will be a pretty short story, about 6 posts, I had a fun save with Lazio after starting with Red Star in the French league so thought I would write a quick short story as I lack the time or talent to write anything better :)

Edited by Panpardus

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RIOTS OF ROME

Lazio – The beginning

Lazio were one of the teams back in 2006 that was involved in the scandal, but slowly they had been building, Chairman Claudio Lotito had been at the club since 2004 and was given a 2 year hiatus after the scandals but since then both he and Lazio had been applauded with how they had been operating financially.

Steadily through the years, the supporters had been building, it wasn't always good news though with a minority in ultra's falling fowl of the law and displaying racist slogans among other things at times, while it was rare it was still there and there was often a seedy underbelly felt through the years.

Lazio were the 6th biggest supported club in Italy and had progressed well but they struggled to break into the big time consistently and so Simone Inzaghi was given the reigns back in 2016 to do just that, Claudio had wanted to invest in the playing group and coaches so they could achieve their goals of consistent Champions league football.

 

Claudio Lotito speaks about those lead up years:

Quote

 

We was desperate to get into that top 3, we only achieved it once and every other year we suffered with inconsistency, Simone since his retirement had worked within the club and had some great ideas, he had taken over briefly but we hired Bielsa which lasted all of a week. We thought Simone deserved a chance and so we gave him the permanent position.

We had some very good results and we was happy, we got 5th in his first two years, we were more consistent and we played good football, however we then fell to 7th place which was a blip, Simone gave us assurances and we climbed up to 6th the following year but we got, or more like I got the feeling we were one dimensional and didn't have alternatives. Sure enough we finished 6th again and when we had talk to Simone he had plans to make sure we could take the next step.

While we changed slightly in our approach it was a bad start and we let Simone go in November of 2021 Alberto Bollini was known to the club and he seemed a good fit at the time and while there was other options, he got us from 12th to 8th so we extended his contract.

Again hindsight is a wonderful thing, the following year we were terrible, style of play, results were all bad and so I didn't make the same mistake, Alberto left the club and we looked for a new manager.”

 

 

Lazio looked for a new manager, but Claudio had already scouted a manager he was interested in, Red Stars up and coming manager in the French Ligue 1 had already come across his desk.

Claudia Lotito speaks about Matt Panpardus, the Red Star FC manager in Paris.

Quote

 

His name came across my desk back at the end of the 19/20 season, he was being talked about a bit in the inner circles of our network as we had connections in France at the time, here was this little club taking the Ligue 1 by storm. Storm of course being a relative word, they had come second in Ligue 2 and won promotion to the top league but it was the Ligue 1 where he was taking big scalps on his way to a good mid table position.

They beat Strasbourg a few times, Toulouse and even managed a draw against Monaco! They finished 11th that year which was an impressive result, it earned him a manager of the year nomination.

I did some digging back then, I had an acquaintance who was friends with Red Stars former Director of Football, Simon Marlet had moved on to Guincamp so I was certain there was no conflict of interest and that I would get an honest appraisel.

He was very complimentary of Matt and we talked for some time, there was a few sticking points and I thought about the decision over and over, in the end we stuck with Simon because it was the easy decision, but 6 months later we let him go. I do wonder what if we had got him then, would of it changed the situation that was about to happen?

November we had a decision to make, I once again looked at Red Star and they were flying, they were in a Europa league spot at that stage, I called Steve again and we talked, we knew he was in the market, Red Star had accepted a few offers and he had been on a few interviews but he had been overlooked every time.

I balked again and went with someone familiar, Alberto took over.

I mean no disrespect to these men who are fine coaches and managers, its just that they didn't suit what we needed and I blame myself for not acting when I could have.”

 

 

Red Star went on to finish 6th and grab a Europa place, Matt Panpardus also won Ligue 1 manager of the year.

We confirmed with Red Stars former president Patrice Haddad that he fielded many offers for Matt at the end of the season but he chose to remain at the club.

Lazio got to 8th that year but faltered again next season, the 15th of Feb 2023 seen Alberto Bollini given his marching orders and once again Lazio were on the lookout for another manager, this time it was different.

Which takes us to Part 3 – Lazio – The Awakening

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Lazio – The Awakening

 

Claudio Lotito takes us again through the process.

Quote

 

Once we dismissed Alberto I knew we had to go external, Matt's name was there on my desk, but I couldn't get it out of my head why a manager that had won the French Ligue 1 manager of the year in a small team wasn't get picked up by someone else. At the time Red Star were 3rd behind PSG and Marseilles, this crossed into my mind that we wouldn't be allowed to talk to Matt.

So the process began, I interviewed 4 people in two days, some very good managers, but my mind kept coming back and so I flew into Paris to talk to Patrice Haddad who I called that morning."

 

Patrice Hadded talks about that meeting:

Quote

 

Claudio did call me in the morning and he was there by late afternoon, Claudio is a very passionate man, his big question was why was he still here, he meant no disrespect but he was bewildered by it and thought something was wrong.

I told Claudio that he was a very good manager, the players get on well with him, there has been a few problems, but nothing major, one of the problems is that the better players thought they had to move on to bigger clubs and that's was why he was trying to find some alternative ways to play to try and break down the bigger teams consistantly.

We talked about the clubs that had come in for him, some of them Matt had said no, some of them he got to final interviews and another manager was selected, we talked about a few in France that had gone on to get relegated after choosing a different manager, it was a source of amusement.

Claudio was really keen after our chat and asked if he could come to an agreement would I be willing for him to go straight away or did I want to keep him until the end of the season.

We would have got a better result if he had of stayed but if he was going then it didn't matter on what time he left for me so I said that if he could agree the time with Matt when it came up, I gave him permission to leave.”

 

 

That interview took place the next day, Claudio was amazed with the managers honesty about his short comings and why he thought he didn't get positions despite his good record, reputation was big part, the managers that had eventually got positions were higher rated than Matt and he did get a certain satisfaction when ultimately they failed.

Bordeaux had come for Matt twice in his time at Red Star, as did RC Strasbourg, the first time it went to a higher rep manager who got them relegated, the second time Matt refuted it publicly and then refused the interview.

He had offers from several French teams, a few in Spain including Sevilla and now here was Lazio.

 

Here is Matt Panpardus's recollection of the interview.

Quote

 

In all honesty I wouldn't have accepted an invitation to the interview if it hadn't of been for Mr Haddad, I knew Lazio were looking and I do keep an eye out for those bigger jobs, but I was sick of clubs last year coming in, disrupting my team preparations while I flew to interviews and it inevitably going to another manager. I had a few nibbles after winning the award, but once the season started I decided to not talk to anyone. In December I had 3 offers but refused them all, one was Sevilla but there was couple other clubs in the EPL that were also interested.

I spoke to Claudio and it felt more like a discussion of where the club was headed and what I thought I could bring to the table rather than an interview process. We did talk about the previous offers and why I thought I hadn't been picked up despite my success here at Red Star, he seemed amazed I was still available to be honest.

I got a good feeling about the move and I was convinced I would take the job if it was offered, he offered me the position then and there and asked if I could come straight away but he understood if I wanted to complete the year.

Lazio were just in the top 10 at the time, he thought if we got some good results we could qualify for the Europa which would help, but wasn't necessary and he left the decision to me.

It felt like a good fit, so I spoke to Mr Haddad and I agreed to leave straight away.

It was hard saying good bye to the club that had given me my start and had supported me through my career, I had learned a lot and I was going to miss things like the new stadium that was due in 2024 but I was going to go to Stadio Olimpico so there was a consolation!

 

 

So it was done Matt took the job and went to Lazio, Red Star lost its next 8 games after his departure but steadied the ship when they hired Juan Pizzi who had managed Saudi Arabia and Chile. They finished 6th and qualified for Europe again.

Red Star had a growing reputation, but no managers stuck around like Matt did, over the next few seasons the average time was a year to a year and a half before moving on to better things, they had Slaven Bilic at the helm for a while and was rumoured to have signed Mauricio Pochettino before he unexpectedly retired. The team did drop to mid table but we steady in their new stadium and then Mr Haddad retired as well.

Lazio had their new man, when it was announced it was a bit underwhelming, the players were hoping for a bigger name to get them up in the standings and news across the fans groups were happy but not ecstatic.

Lazio had turned the corner of sorts and when Panpardus took over and had taken 7 points from 9 with their caretaker manager, some of the fans were suggesting that Diego Bortoluzzi should have been promoted from within but Claudio stamped it out pretty quickly with his address to the fans.

They quickly got over the disappointment as the Panpardus effect took over.

Their new manager was pretty charismatic, at the time he had never missed a press conference and he was willing to answer any questions, he talked to the fans and he was always talking to the players.

Matt's first up game seen them beat Milan 2-0 at home which went down well and they went on for a 8 game winning streak before drawing with Inter away which was their first blemish, their 3rd last game seen them beaten by Udinese 1-0, the team dropped to 5th as AC Milan took 4th.

Two draws against Pescara and Palermo seen a 5th place finish which looking back is a great result from where they came from, however there was wide spread criticism from the press, fans and some discontent from the players.

After the draw with Inter Panpardus switched to 3322 formation based on counter attack and pressing, while they destroyed Torino 4-1 with this first up the results were less than impressive in the final run.

The criticism was that they should never have changed a winning formation and the manager was naive. The press went with Lazio losses 4th spot when maybe they should have thought about the team going from 10th to 5th.

The players were a little unhappy as well, they were doing 3 sessions a day without much rest learning the new formation and the change of style that came with it, despite Matt Panpardus's transparency on why they were doing it the players were not happy especially when they didn't revert to their 4231.

Ciro Immobile talks to us about that final part of the season.

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"We were really confused, we thought it was a lost in translation thing as Matt could speak only French and English with little Italian. He talked to us all individually where he could, but he had to use a translator with a few of us.

This was the future he kept saying, we need to be able play this style when we play the big teams, we reply that we learn it next year but he was adamant. We was doing 3 sessions a day of high intensity coming after the World Cup and were all a bit tired and jaded.

We felt he was making an error and I suppose looking back we didn't give it 100% in those final few weeks and by that I mean that we tried and we wasn't out there trying to lose, we just could have worked it better.”

 

 

Despite finishing in their best position for a few years, the feeling of lost opportunity was prominent, which continued into the off season.

It came out that Juventus had failed the FFP because of a few club oversights, while it was nothing malicious they were excluded from the Champions League and were tightening the screws it was a good opportunity for other clubs to go for gold.

With Lazio not making Champions League and losing the millions of dollars associated with it the fans and pressed piled on over what that could mean for the club. When Claudio announced that there was no transfer funds for next season as they had spent a sum on agreed transfers from last year it looked as though the team wasn't going to be serious contenders and fans and players were not happy.

Part 4 is next – Lazio on the march.

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RIOTS OF ROME

 

Lazio – On the march (2023-24)

 

Before a ball was kicked there was new reports of player unrest with a a couple of the members wanting assurances of the new manager that they would get more playing time, his answer was you get what you deserve and if you work hard and play well then you get games. You don't get them because you ask.

It seemed like it was going to be a short stay for the new manager, when he announced a 6 week pre-season the players were visibly unhappy.

Claudio Lotito statement: 30th June 2023

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I am disheartened by the recent media and fan comments recently about this great club and it's a shame that you all jump to conclusions without knowing what is going on. What makes this worse is when we tell you what is happening and you think we are hiding things and come up with complete rubbish to suit some sensational dribble that makes good reading.

Here are some truths for you all to digest:

Last season our new manager came into the job and the club was in 10th place with 14 games to go he won 9 games, lost 1 and drew 3 to get us into 5th place.

If it had not have been for Matt Panpardus we would have not even entertained being in the Europa League this season so to keep suggesting we should have been in the Champions League and its Matt's fault is completely preposterous.

There is no funds for transfers unless we generate money from player sales does not mean we are in financial trouble. We have been very transparent in our financial dealings, we are diligent and we wont put the club in jeopardy by spending unnecessarily.

We agreed terms last year with Rangers and Villarreal to bring in Eros Grezda and Rafael Borre, we have also signed Jesse Lingard from United on a free after his contract was not renewed and we signed Stephan El Shaarawy from Arsenal and while Stephan did play for our Rivals before that we see this as an extremely good bit of business for the club.

Young Brazilian Mao is also coming in next season again he was a free transfer, but we did need to outlay a bit for compensation reasons.

This is 5 permanent signings to the club so please don't say we are doing nothing and we are also looking at other options in the coming weeks.

To the rumours of player unrest, the players are content, there has been some issues, Andrew Blake has expressed his need to move on and we facilitated that request. Yes I can confirm that Luis Alberto has also expressed a wish to move to Napoli after their interest, Luis has been a great servant and while we are disappointed he wants to leave we will not stand in his way.

To the point that the players are refusing to come to pre-season training, I can say that all the players have agreed to come back to training on a date that gives them 6 weeks to the first game, which is two weeks longer or shorter depending on how you look at it than normal.

The coaching staff have preparations that are needed and the players have agreed to come back early so these can be done. Our first game has not changed in pre-season, we will play Nottingham Forest of the English Championship on the 17th.

Thankyou

 

 

It was just what everyone needed and the club got on with their business, even when Luis left later that month for Napoli there was not the questioning writeups about the club, it was just reported as news. Andrew Blake left for Inter and he was scathing of Matt's management but it did come out that he was told he was not a required player at the end of the previous season.

The club did strengthen though with Marvin Rodewalk a left back from PSG and Victor Lindelof from Man United joining to strengthen the defensive ranks both players came on loan while Duarte Valente a defensive midfielder joined from Porto for around 30 million which is what they got for Luis from Napoli.

Game one seen the club take a draw against Pescara with the 3322 and while there was some murmurings it was more a case of why couldn’t they finish the chances they had instead of the tactic not working and when the team destroyed Juventus 3-0 next up there was optimism that they were on the right path. Good wins against Roma and Fiorentina came while beating Zenit and Aris Saloniki in the Europa League meant all was well.

The teams first lost came from Inter in Milan, while their second loss came a few short weeks later at the same Place, Milan this time with a 1-0. While the team didn't play bad it was just the other teams played better and this is when we seen 4231 come back.

In truth the season tactics changed a bit with the 4231 the 4321 a 3322 counter a 31312 possession game all getting used to good effect.

Finally Claudio had what he wanted, a diverse tactical team that had many plans.

But as good as the first part of the season was there was soon trouble in paradise again, there had been an approach for the club from a consortium led by Mario Martin which questioned the board of Lazio over several points. While it fell through there was lingering questions.

Before the end of the year a Dutch consortium was formed led by David van Dijk and Lazio had new owners and a chairman. They promised much with a cash investment for training grounds among other things, but the rumours were they were bringing in Gareth Southgate to manage the club.

Lazio were doing well at this stage, second in the league and playing exciting football the team had also been impressive in the Europa League and had qualified top with a game in hand.

The supporters were not happy and neither were the players when asked if Matt Panpardus being replaced by Southgate was what they wanted. Ciro Immobile was a big advocate for Matt Panpardus during that time and having the captains support we believe swayed the new board to keep Matt on.

It was a good season, but by January the title looked destined for AC Milan who had already taken a 10 point lead, Lazio was fighting it out with Inter who did the double over them in the season, the unlikely Genoa who sat in second place for much of the season and Juventus who were a bit inconsistent.

The fight for second went into the last few games but it was Lazio who took second spot, 21 points behind Rafa Benetiz's AC Milan, Inter finished 3rd with Genoa finishing fourth.

Juventus finished 5th and wouldn't be playing Champions League for the second year which seen Conte removed as manager.

Europa was good to the team with wins over Galatasaray and Borussia Monchengladbach before losing to West Ham in the quarter finals after a red card in the 10th minute of the second leg seen the team picked off and eventually well beaten 5-0.

The Coppa Italia though seen Lazio get some revenge, Napoli were dispatched easily in the quarters with a penalty win over AC Milan in the semi's.

It meant a final up against Inter who had beaten Lazio twice that season already, the final though was a different story with Lazio taking the game 4-1, El Shaarawy with a brace destroyed the Milan team while Valente also got on the scoresheet with Victor Lindelof. It was the clubs first real silverware since their 2013 win.

The hype around the club was exceptional but behind closed doors all was not well.

 

Matt speaks about his early days with the new board.

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It was not a great time, Claudio had tried to reassure me that everything would be okay, but as soon as they took over there was things being said and leaked and I never felt comfortable.

Gareth Southgate had been to games and the training facilities and I almost quit but Ciro came out to the press and spoke for me at great personal cost to himself and the fans backed their captain.

It hampered the board's plans and I was told on Christmas eve that my job was secure on the proviso of adjustments that the board wanted to see.

They gave me a list of conditions like I had to play defensive football, they wanted to see more from free kicks, I was to sign young players for the first team while also getting in big name players. It was a bit stupid and I felt restricted in what I could do, it felt like they wanted me to fail.

We had our first big issue come after the new year, a player that I had scouted since Red Star was not going to renew his contract with PSG and I thought I could get him to Lazio, when I first went to the board they said there was no transfer funds and they wouldn't adjust the budgets.

Regardless of this I went and talked to Yacine Adli who was at Fiorentina on loan at the time, he was happy to come across and we quickly negotiated a contract with his manager and while the wages were good it was not excessive.

It was signed of by Igli Tare our Director of Football but a few days later we had to put the transfer on hold as the board refused to sanction the payment of the agent and player signing bonuses, Yacine's agent Mikael Le Roux was understanding and gave us a week to sort it out.

I had a heated meeting with the board and in particular David, If I guaranteed them we would finish in the top 3 as well as getting us to the Qtr Finals of the Europa they will release the funds, I agreed to their demands.

I couldn’t believe that us getting Yacine wasn't a formality, this guy was worth 10 million and probably 30 in a few years and we was squabbling about 3 million, it seemed ludicrous.

Funnily enough what they allowed me to do opened up some funds so I signed Antonio Marin from Manchester United on a free for next year as well, just in case we couldn't get funds then.

The board was not impressed at all and as you know they came out at the end of January and said the training ground plans were on hold as the manager had spent an allocation of funds on signing two new players.

They shifted the blame.

All through the season it was a shaky stand off, but the results were promising the fans were getting excited and we was getting more to the game each week, in the end I got a reprieve and they left me alone.

 

 

There was always the rumours around the Lazio were looking for a new manager, one a bit more balanced and with more experience, David van Dijk talks to us now about that first year at Lazio

Quote

 

We could have handled it better, but you have to understand that we had investors and board that agreed that we wanted a different type of manager in there and we had identified Gareth Southgate as that man.

Matt was only in the Lazio role for a short time and had a year and half to go on his contract so it made sense for the group to do it then.

We only wanted what was best for the club and this is what we came up with, but the fans and Ciro spoke up so we left Matt in place.

The direction we gave Matt is what we had talked about with Gareth, there is always rules and objectives in life and we felt that these were conducive to having a good future.

Matt flung a few of these in our face, it felt like he was testing us.

The Adli incident was one of these things, we agreed in principle to why he wanted him, but we had other players in the same role, so we asked questions and he didn't like that. In the end we freed up the funds for him to sign Adli.

When he then went and signed Antonio Marin as well we was livid, he felt he had done it out of spite, especially seeing he was another attacking player.

Because of this we had no choice but to cancel the plans, we had to pay some fees up front and at the time the club was low and we didn't want to extend our finances to such a point so we held off.

After that we kept our distance and tried to be as civil as we could.

 

 

 

Part 5 is next – Lazio, That year.

 

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Apologies for the long gap if anyone was reading this! Computer died and had to get repaired and I thought I lost all the files.

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RIOTS OF ROME

Part 5 – Lazio – That year

 

With everything that happens in football its hard to put the pieces together to tell a story worthy of writing, but the 2024/25 season promised a lot, Rafa Benetiz had left for Real Madrid a month into the season which seen AC Milan scrambling for a manager, Marcelino was the man that was hired but he lasted less than six months before he was replaced by Alvaro Benito.

Juventus had Sergio Conceicao in his first season, Spalletti took over the Italian job and Diego Simeone took over at Inter.

It was going to be a cracking season!

It was a slow start for Lazio, two draws against Palermo and Juventus to open up before a couple wins got them going and up the tables. Their first Champions League game seen them play PSG and a brace from Neymar confined the team to defeat.

An easy win over Torino was followed by 5 draws out of 6 games which included a game against Bayern Munchen, it looked like the team was going to be outclassed in the group stage and we would have to settle for Europa.

The draws in the league had hurt as well with the team dropping to 7th before an impressive 7 game winning spell catapulted them up the league and into second spot, it also brought wins over Besiktas and a PSG to renew hope that we might make it out of the group stage.

Continental hangover seen a draw with Cagliari before the team went on another 8 game winning streak which included a 1-0 away with over Bayern which secured its place into the second round of the Champions League, the team also won its way into the second round of the Coppa Italia and beat AC Milan in the Supercoppa Final.

It was a great spell and the club was streaks ahead of everyone else in the League, occupying top spot with Inter 8 points behind, the big talking point though was Matt Panpardus's contract.

Matt was saying it would be dealt with in the future while the club was saying it was working on details and something would come out soon, the whispers were that Matt wanted certain assurances and the club wasn't willing to give them.

The clubs first loss came in February to Torino, it was a shock loss to the 14th placed side at our home, despite the blip the fans were still optimistic.

The next home game seen the club fined for excessive yellow cards and also for its fans who had unfurled some disturbing messages, it seemed some minorities were back in town.

The club with its increasing technology was able to pinpoint the offenders which was passed on to police, 15 fans were charged and 13 of them were given life bans attending football matches in Italy, that sort of behaviour was no longer accepted and while it brought the club into disrepute it also showed the club would act without question.

The Lazio juggernaut rolled on through as they took games easily in the league, with a combination of 4321, 3322 and a 31312 the club was unstoppable, teams didn't know what they were playing against any given week, a quick fluidity to the formations allowed them to change on the fly as well if it wasn't going to plan.

Barcelona came and tried to play their passing game, they came up against the 3322 of Lazio and while they had 61% possession they trailed in the shot counter by 7 shots and went home with a 3-1 defeat, the return game at Camp Nou seen a 1-1 draw and Lazio progressed.

Now Barcelona were no longer at their peak but it was a good win, next up it was Jose Mourinho's Manchester United and after grabbing a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford the home game seen the team progress thanks to a Mao goal, 1-0 the finals score and the team was through to the Semi Finals.

The team did suffer a form slump in the league during the time, but it wasn't significant, they lost to Empoli and had a couple draws but had increased their lead over Inter to 12 points and the title was pretty much in the bag.

In April after the Manchester United win the rumours were circulating that Matt Panpardus was leaving the club, the press conferences started to get a few more no comment answers concerning his future and the only time he did speak was to refute something that the board came out with.

Quote

 

'19/4/2025'

I have not put off talks with the club about a new contract as has been suggested, I am more than willing to talk about renewing my contract as I love the club and its supporters and would like to continue my work here. Unfortunately there is a few issues preventing us getting to the stage of talking about extending the contract as the club is unwilling to compromise on certain points that I can not agree to.'

 

It was seen as a distraction and when the club lost in the Coppa Italia Final to Inter 2-1 the fans went beserk that the teams focus was being overshadowed by the boards inability to sign their manager, it was a foreshadowing of what was to come.

The next home game against Cagliari had huge support for the manager with banners everywhere in support of the manager and chants of removing the board.

The team won 5-0, then went to Spain and demolished Atletico Madrid 4-0 before coming back to Italy and handing them a 3-0 defeat. Lazio gotten to the Champions League final! No one had expected this, they were not expected to get out of the group, but here they were, challenging Europe.

The banners mysteriously disappeared, it was then learned that everything was being confiscated in a bid to stop political messages, however the chants kept going, it was an uneasy time and considering the teams position it wasn't what you expected.

The league was a forgone conclusion and on the 3rd of May it was confirmed at home against bitter rivals AS Roma, you couldn't have picked a better day for it to happen. The match itself was played at reduced capacity because the Police were worried about violence in the ground, but it was televised live for free to try and disperse the crowds.

The 1-1 draw sparked bedlam around Rome as the Lazio fans clashed with Roma fans, Lazio had won the Serie A and they were determined to let everyone know.

This gathered momentum as a splinter group of fans were fuelling the fires by threatening the board to sign Matt Panpardus or else. The police presence was growing and it was decided that Lazios last game against Milan would be played behind closed doors. The team lost 1-0 which sparked riots in the streets as cars were overturned and street fronts set on fire, it was reminiscent of the Yellow Jacket riots that had plagued Paris back in 2019

It was not good for the country as Rome was burning, more police were brought in.

The Champions League Final was in Greece at the Oaka Spyros Louis ground which is home to the National team and Panathinaikos, the club was given specific instructions and the fans with tickets were screened.

Greece fearing riots closed its doors to all Italian Citizens who did not have a ticket for the Final.

The final was a spectacular affair, a full house of 87,022 attended the final on a beautiful night just meant for football.

Manchester City were one of the favourites for the title, this was their 5th appearance in 6 years and they had won their previous 4 finals from 2020 to 2023 before missing out last year when Tottenham defeated Liverpool in Amsterdam.

City were tipped to make it so an English team had won the last 7 Champions Leagues.

Lazio had other ideas though, they lined up in the familiar 3322 to counter the possession hungry City team and the first goal came in 5 minutes the press resulted in bad pass which was turned into a quick counter, Yancine Adli was the player who put the Lazio outfit on the board 1-0 up after 5.

It was a tight affair played at an intense pace, Lazio continued to harry the Citizens causing turnovers, the team had also committed a lot of fouls to break up City's play the break came with Lazio 1-0 up, it was an even game really with no team really having great chances to score besides from the opener.

The second half seen Lazio not resting on its laurels it continued to harry the English outfit the pressure resulted in a corner which their second goal, a corner was deflected in off Mbappe, the Frenchman was distraught at his own goal.

With City pushing, it got easier for Lazio, they closed their gaps well and hit the English team on the counter exposing them time and time again.

Finally the game was put out of reach when Capone scored from the spot after being scythed down when coming down the left side of the box. 3-0 and it was Lazio's Cup

Celebrations ensued, Greece was unaffected, they had done the right thing in limiting the fans and while there was a few encounters the Greek government and Police came out and praised those who travelled for the game and enjoyed festivities afterwards.

In Rome it was bad, the fans once again had gone to the streets and cars and shops were burning, in what should have been celebrations for a clubs amazing year, it turned into something between a manager and its board.

What happened then was the start of the street riots. A shopkeeper had been bashed after protecting his property from looters and then it started in earnest as people started protecting themselves and family by any means necessary.

The following night a shopkeeper shot 3 intruders, killing two before being shot himself and the city was in turmoil, looters and rioters were every where, the whole of Rome's seedy underbelly had come out and the Army was called in.

Celebrations were long forgotten as it turned into carnage, multiple deaths and city wide destruction, a week later it all subsided.

The parade normally afforded to clubs for winning the trophy was abandoned as the city started to return to normality.

There was many statements put out by the club in the days to come about how this moment will ever be a blight on what should have been a time of pride for their fellow Romans.

Matt Panpardus expressed his sorrow at what had happened as did the playing group.

And just when you thought it had all died down, the rumours of Matt Panpardus leaving came up again.

Arsenal and Chelsea had removed their managers and were looking for replacements, Matt was heavily rumoured and reports were that he had applied for both roles.

 

And then it started again

 

Join us for the conclusion with Part 6 – No one wins.

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