Roberto De Zerbi: From Midfield maestro to Managerial Mastermind

Roberto De Zerbi has carved a unique path in the world of football.  After a respectable playing career, he’s transitioned seamlessly into management, impressing with his attacking philosophy and tactical prowess.

  This article delves into the clubs De Zerbi has led, exploring his successes, challenges, and the exciting brand of football he’s become known for.

Early Days: Taking the Reins in Italy

De Zerbi’s managerial journey began in his home country, Italy.  His first challenge came in 2016 when he was appointed head coach of Palermo, a club then battling relegation from Serie A, the top tier of Italian football. 

 Despite limited resources, De Zerbi instilled an attacking style of play, prioritizing possession and quick passing.  While Palermo was ultimately relegated, De Zerbi’s commitment to attractive football caught the attention of other clubs.

Benevento: A Short Stint with a Historic Team

In 2017, De Zerbi took the helm at Benevento, a small club that had achieved historic promotion to Serie A for the first time.  The task here was monumental: maintaining their newfound top-flight status.  

De Zerbi’s attacking approach continued, but against stronger competition, Benevento struggled defensively.  After a series of defeats, De Zerbi departed the club mid-season.  Though short-lived, this experience provided valuable lessons for the young manager.

Sassuolo: Building an Entertaining Force

De Zerbi’s next stop was Sassuolo, another Serie A club known for playing attractive football.  He arrived in 2018 and quickly put his stamp on the team.  De Zerbi deployed a flexible 4-3-3 formation, with emphasis on wing play, overlapping fullbacks, and a high pressing game.  

Sassuolo, under his leadership, became a team known for scoring goals and playing exciting football, often punching above their weight against bigger clubs.  De Zerbi’s tenure at Sassuolo was a resounding success, solidifying his reputation as a rising star in Italian management.

Shakhtar Donetsk: A Brief Foray into Eastern Europe

In 2021, De Zerbi took a bold step, accepting the managerial position at Shakhtar Donetsk, a Ukrainian powerhouse.  The Ukrainian Premier League presented a new challenge, and De Zerbi adapted his tactics to suit the league’s physical style.  

He achieved early success, guiding Shakhtar to a dominant league position and a Champions League group stage appearance.

  However, his time in Ukraine was tragically cut short due to the ongoing war.  De Zerbi made the difficult decision to leave the club, prioritizing the safety of himself and his family.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Taking on the Premier League

De Zerbi’s talents didn’t go unnoticed for long.  In September 2022, he was appointed head coach of Brighton & Hove Albion in the prestigious English Premier League.  The Premier League is known for its relentless pace, physicality, and world-class players.

  De Zerbi, ever the tactician, adjusted his approach once again, maintaining his attacking principles but adding a layer of pragmatism to compete in this demanding league.

Despite a period of adjustment, De Zerbi’s impact on Brighton has been positive.  The team plays an attractive brand of football, creating numerous scoring chances and securing some impressive results.  

De Zerbi’s focus on player development has also been evident, with several young players flourishing under his guidance.  While the long-term success of his project at Brighton remains to be seen, the early signs are encouraging.

De Zerbi’s Tactical Philosophy: A Blend of Attack and Adaptability

De Zerbi’s footballing philosophy is centered on attacking play.  He prioritizes possession-based football, with quick passing movements, positional play, and exploiting space on the flanks.  His teams are known for their high pressing intensity, aiming to win the ball back quickly and launch attacks.

  However, De Zerbi is also a pragmatist.  He adapts his tactics to suit the strengths of his players, the opposition he faces, and the demands of the league he’s competing in.  This adaptability has been crucial in his success across different clubs and countries.

The De Zerbi Legacy: More Than Just Wins

Roberto De Zerbi’s managerial journey is still ongoing, but he has already established himself as a manager to watch.  His commitment to attacking football and player development is refreshing, and his tactical flexibility allows him to succeed in different environments. 

 While trophies may not be plentiful yet, De Zerbi’s legacy is about building teams that play attractive, entertaining football, and giving young players a platform to shine.  As he continues his managerial journey, football fans around the world.


Roberto De Zerbi’s exciting brand of football and managerial journey have sparked interest among fans. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Q: Which clubs has Roberto De Zerbi coached?

A: De Zerbi has managed five professional clubs so far:

Palermo (Italy)

Benevento (Italy)

Sassuolo (Italy)

Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)

Brighton & Hove Albion (England)

Q: Where did De Zerbi start his managerial career?

A: He began in his home country, Italy, taking the helm at Palermo in 2016.

Q: What was De Zerbi’s biggest success as a manager?

A: Arguably, his most successful spell was with Sassuolo. He transformed them into an entertaining force in Serie A, playing attractive football and exceeding expectations.

Q: Why did De Zerbi leave Shakhtar Donetsk?

A: Sadly, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, De Zerbi prioritized the safety of himself and his family and left the club in 2022.

Q:  What is De Zerbi’s current managerial position?

A: As of April 2024, De Zerbi is the head coach of Brighton & Hove Albion in the English Premier League.

Q: What style of play is De Zerbi known for?

A: He is known for attacking, possession-based football. His teams press high, move the ball quickly, and utilize the flanks effectively. However, he adapts his tactics based on the situation.

Q:  Where can I learn more about the tactics Roberto De Zerbi uses?

A:  Several football websites and YouTube channels offer tactical breakdowns of De Zerbi’s teams. Look for content from reputable sources like coaches’ associations or established football analysts.

Q:  What are some of the criticisms of De Zerbi’s approach?

A:  While his attacking style is praised, some critics argue it can be defensively vulnerable, especially against stronger opposition.

Q:  What is the future outlook for Roberto De Zerbi?

A:  De Zerbi is a young and promising manager.  His success at Brighton will be closely watched, and with his talent and adaptability, he has the potential to manage some of the biggest clubs in the world.

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