Welcome back to the Salernitana Story. Last time you were with our new heroes from Italy, we were just dipping our toes into the mad world of Serie B with their wacky squad restrictions. Now, it’s time to see how things have went since. Spoiler alert: it’s classic Long Ball madness…
Ah Football Manager. You tease. You made me think that my Salernitana team were near unbeatable, a force of nature never before seen in the Italian second tier. You made me believe that people would praise me for being some kind of FM wizard. You made me believe that I am a tactical genius.
And then as quick as you giveth, you taketh away, you absolute bast…
So welcome to part two of the opening season with Salernitana. When you were last with me, I had spent all my budget on two players from Serie C whom had promptly got themselves injured two games into the season. And we’d lost our opening game of the season. At least we were still in the cup though.
So how did it all go?
Well, after watching the Verona game and boring myself no end, I changed my style of play up instantly. Taking inspiration from Chris Darwen’s strikerless system and the instructions used, I implemented my own as well as a 5-3-2 because when in Rome or, in our case, Ternana. And it worked. Too well.
We blitzed poor Ternana 4-0 inside 15 minutes with a display of attacking football not seen in Italy ever. It was almost embarrassing. And it kept working too. Only Spezia were able to beat us in the next eight games with Benevento the only other side to get a point off us. We only conceded four in that run, battered Bari away from home 5-1 and by the time we won at Spal we were top of the table. It was all a little too easy.
So naturally, FM decided that my main centre back Raffaele Schiavi and number one goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano would get injured right after. One broken hand for a keeper and one broken leg for my experienced defender. That seems about right.
And that is when we were exposed. Without Schiavi, the Alessandros, Bernardini and Tuia, were struggling and new signing Alberto Barison (fresh off his own injury) was thrown in at the deep end with no safety net. It didn’t help that my number two keeper Luca Liverani couldn’t save a puppy in a paddling pool. Defeat at Vicenza started the rot before ex-Parma striker Massimo Coda managed to score a goal and salvage us a draw at Novara. Worse was to come as we lost at strugglers Pisa with the last kick of the game after Barison got himself sent off. I should have seen the signs but I was oblivious, fuelled by anger.
A 4-2 home win against Ascoli was promising but the defensive frailties existed and were fully on show as we lost at ten man Frosinone. I was trying to find anything to stop the rot but we crumbled at home to Latina thanks to a Moses Odjer red card before Tuia got injured too. I had to turn to awful loanee Fefe who in turn was awful as we threw away a two goal lead to lose to Pro Vercelli. We were also dumped out of the cup by Empoli after Odjer got himself sent off again. We were in free fall.
A home draw with Perguia was salvaged by Coda as we started a mini renaissance with a tough win against bottom side Cesena. The defensive frailties were still on full display in our 3-3 home draw with Entella before we beat league leaders Trapani away from home 3-1. That may sound impressive but we were woeful until they got their right back sent off. We headed into the winter break with our best performance in a while at Verona but still managed to shoot ourselves in the foot and lose 3-2.
January has seen things continue horribly. A drab 0-0 with Ternana was lucky before we rolled over for Benevento to end off this update. The results see us in eleventh, slap bang in the middle of the league. A colossal drop from about three months previous when we were top and a little concerning if the slump doesn’t stop soon.
This is starting to feel familiar…
We have also gone through the January transfer window. Out went backup goalkeeper Luca Liverani for £30,000 to Ascoli as he was woeful and I have younger options that could do the same job. Also on the out was reserve player Raffaelle Esposito to Agropoli on loan while third choice full back Michele Franco left for Lecce on a free because who needs three left backs in their squad? I also terminated the loan of Fefe because he was awful and rejected all of Lazio’s attempts to return him to me.
Incoming was young striker Riccardo Franchini from Pavia and a replacement for Fefe in the form of young Albanian Shaqir Tafa on loan from Palermo. Nothing too spectacular but a couple of extra bodies just in case.
Moses Odjer – 22 appearances, 1 goal, 7.00#
For all of his disciplinary issues (twelve yellows and two reds in 22 games is appalling), Moses is way too good for Serie B. He scored a brilliant goal against Cesena and as our ball winner in the middle of the park, he does a wonderful job. I also managed to tie him down to a longer contract as well with a hefty release fee.
Pietro Terracciano – 20 appearances, 8 clean sheets, 7.03
It says a lot that when Pietro was out for a few weeks the team crumbled. He’s made countless saves which have kept us in some pretty tough games. The fact his loan was already being made permanent at the start of the save is an extra bonus for me.
Luigi Vitale – 18 appearances, 7.08
My first choice left wing back has been a real attacking force on that side. Admittedly, not amazing defensively but he’s pretty happy to bomb on to the byline and whip in some wonderful crosses. Seven assists already this season as well is a pretty good return.
Francesco Della Rocca – 17 appearances, 1 goal, 6.82
He’s kind of just there really. That’s the best I can really say about Della Rocca. He’s OK but not really convinced me and often I find the team to be weaker with him in it.
Giuseppe Perico – 13 appearances, 6.88
The backup right wing back is not great going forward and not great at defending meaning that depth there is a bit of an issue.
And that’s it. All up to date. Hopefully we’re not gearing up for another Osasuna descent into a relegation battle and a contractless summer.