The adventure with Osasuna ended a while ago but the memories remain. They say never go back… so we haven’t. Instead, we’re looking to create new memories at a club that have only briefly flirted with sitting at Italy’s top table…
Salernitana played in Serie A for just one season. A side containing Marco Di Vaio and Gennaro Gattuso and led by former Lazio boss Delio Rossi battled and scrapped but couldn’t stay up. As is the Italian way, once the fall began, it hit hard. Two bankruptcies and name changes later and they’re back in Serie B, with an 18th place finish just about keeping them up last season.
And this is where we come in. The goal is very simple – try not to mess this up and get Salernitana promoted to Serie A and last more than a season. That doesn’t seem like ambitious goals but frankly, I may not have the time to really go all the way and, if you read my Osasuna updates, I have a tendency of managing by the seat of my pants to the detriment of our progress.
That’s besides the point though. Let’s get into it and I’ve not gone too far into the save so this update may be a bit light on details but here we go…
Infuriatingly, Serie B has some weird rules about players over 21 and basically, because we had no young players of any real quality, I had to do some trimming of the squad. So out went loanees Ronaldo (an OK Brazilian midfielder) and Bosnian winger Drilon Cenaj who were not good enough and taking up space and money. Third choice keeper Mirko Ronchi went to affiliate Agropoli for the season while fringe midfielder Antonio Grillo went to Pro Piacenza on a free.
All pretty dull stuff as none of our players attracted interest which is fine with me. What isn’t fine is the number of garbage reserve players that nobody wanted and are on too much money. Can’t have everything I suppose.
So, it turns out I needed depth and quality in the centre of the park and the centre of midfield and, in a huge slice of luck, both player played for the same club. Serie C side Bassano had two young gems in their ranks – defender Alberto Barison and midfielder Mattia Prioetti. They wiped out our transfer budget pretty much but in terms of the future of the club, it is worth it. Naturally, though, both got long-term injuries and are out for a couple of months each. Excellent.
With the weak areas covered, I realised I needed more players and to my surprise it turned out that we had an affiliation with Lazio and I got winger Cristiano Lombardi and everyone’s favourite age faker Joseph Minala for absolutely nothing. They’re both quality and for absolutely nothing, they are excellent additions to the squad.
I finished my summer business with the signing of two young players for the future. Right back Nicola Casini was flagged up by my coaching team as a player of the future and my scouting team rated him so I agreed a clean £16,000 deal with Serie D side Colligiana to bring him to the club. He was joined by Peruvian striker Adrian Cerda who was flagged up at Italy’s Trial Game and the former Verona man became our final signing of the summer.
Tactically, I’ve ended up reverting to a 4-2-3-1 which is direct and based on good service to my big, physical strikers. It will probably come unstuck soon but that’s how I’m set up.
Pre-season was quite good barring the defeat to Messina. A win over Panathinaikos was a particular highlight and I was confident heading into the Coppa Italia qualifying rounds.
Up first were another former Serie A side that have fallen on hard times in Livorno. It should have been a fairly comfortable game but instead it was the dullest pile of crap in Football Manager history. Literally zero highlights as we used my initial instructions into extra time before Minala opened the scoring on the stroke of half time in extra time with the instructions you see above. Naturally, we let Livorno level things up before we progressed on penalties. Not great but we got through.
We were given a tough draw away to Serie B favourites Brescia in the next round but the boys were comfortable and brushed them aside 2-0. Goals from defender Alessandro Tuia (a player with pretty good potential on FM08) and Portuguese striker Joao Silva were enough to send us through to face Serie A’s Empoli in the next round.
So that’s everything. I’ll see you at the end of January where undoubtedly everything will have gone wrong.