Rome, Jan 14 (IANS) Italian football club AS Roma on Thursday announced the return of Luciano Spalletti as the head coach, one day after the sacking of Rudi Garcia. “AS Roma are delighted to announce that Luciano Spalletti has been appointed the club’s new head coach,” Roma said in a statement published in the official website. Frenchman Garcia was fired as Roma have won only twice in the last nine games in the league and the last season’s runners-up are currently fifth in the standings with nine wins, seven draws and three losses. 

The 56-year-old Italian Spalletti arrived on Thursday at the club’s training ground at Trigoria and has immediately taken charge of the team in advance of the next Serie A match against Verona at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. This will be Spalletti’s second time in charge of the Giallorossi following a highly successful four-year stint in the capital between 2005 and 2009. Spalletti spoke enthusiastically about his return. 

“I’m excited because I know what the merits of this city, this club and this team are,” he said. “It’s exciting to work with such worthy people.” In addition to winning back-to-back Coppa Italia titles in 2007 and 2008, Spalletti set a new Serie A record in February 2006 when his Roma side recorded 11 consecutive wins. He was crowned Serie A Coach of the Year for 2006. Roma president Jim Pallotta said: “We are very excited to welcome Luciano Spalletti back to Roma. He is a proven winner with a strong track record of success. We are looking forward to working together to take Roma to where we believe it should be.” Prior to his initial tenure at Rome, Spalletti began his managerial career with Empoli, a club where he was also a player, and guided them from Serie C to Serie A in successive seasons.

He also led Udinese to a top-four finish and qualification to the European Champions League. After leaving Roma, Spalletti served as coach of Zenit St Petersburg from December 2009 to March 2014, winning two Russian league titles as well as a Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup. Roma CEO Italo Zanzi said: “We have so much to play for this season, both in Italy and Europe. Luciano Spalletti’s arrival only adds to the confidence we have in our players and team.”

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