Welcome back to the Salernitana Story where we rejoin our plucky Italians at the start of February. It’s been a curious few months – incredible results have been matched with frustratingly dodgy defending but there’s enough to be somewhat positive moving forward…
I’ve never been one to have a top notch tactic right from the off on Football Manager. In fact, I wouldn’t even call myself tactically useful either. I just throw things together and hope for the best and sometimes, just sometimes, there’s a little glimmer of brilliance I can run with.
And so it has turned out in this case once more and, again, it’s occurred when I have nothing to lose (apart from my job) and when my chips are down. And it has once more, turned out to have three strikers at the detriment to my defence.
But we will cover all that further on in this update so without any further ado, let’s get right into it.
Just two or three little bits of transfer updates to report on. Firstly, after a pretty shoddy start to the season which I’ll touch on, we definitely needed some extra help at the back and my coaches alerted me to free agent Mattia Bani. He’s a Serie B quality defender who is young enough to improve and develop with us which is what you always look for and he is rather similar to Alberto Barison.
Joining in January were two youngsters. First, Finnish midfielder Petter Markkanen joined for a tiny £30,000 from Ilves in his homeland. He’s definitely an exciting midfielder for the future especially with that passing stat so I’m expecting big things from him. Second to join him was an Italian – wing back Marco Cesellato from Civitanovese for just £1,500! No sell-on clauses, no hidden fees, the same price as a top notch second-hand car or an average week holiday in Benidorm. He’ll be retrained as a right midfielder for tactical reasons.
The only out since you were last here was the departure of forgotten man Antonio Zito on deadline day to Latina for £30,000. He’d been angling for a move and with his contract up at the end of the season, I was pleased to ship him on for at least some cash. He wasn’t terrible, he just wasn’t as good as others in the squad.
Ah inconsistency my old friend. We were horrible to start the season and at one point we had slumped to second bottom in the league. That colossal unbeaten run you see in October/November time shot us out of trouble and up into fifth by the turn of the month but sadly we’ve fallen into a bit of a slump recently, with holding onto leads and results rather worryingly becoming a huge issue. Games like the 4-3 with Frosinone or the three draws in a row show we’ve got a long way to go to get promoted. Probably doesn’t help when you’ve only kept FOUR clean sheets in the league all season.
Still, all those results do leave us in 14th as we approach the tail-end of the season…
Oh boy, is this going to be fun.
Last season, we managed to win the two qualifying rounds in August before being dismantled by Empoli in the last qualifying round. This season, we’d done the same but could we actually go further? Yes. Goals from Joao Silva, Stefano Pettinari and Levan Mchedlidze were enough to see us past Serie A side Spal and into a glamour tie with none other than AC Milan in the first round proper.
We headed to the San Siro expecting a thrashing but my hopes peaked when I realised that we were actually playing Milan’s Under 20s. They did have a few experienced heads in the team – Diego Lopez, Abate, Jose Mauri – but there was a shot at an upset at the San Siro.
We harried and harangued the Milan youngsters all night, dominating and creating chances before after half an hour Giuseppe Caccavallo took a pop from 30 yards that Diego Lopez could only push into the net. Shocked wasn’t even the word, I’m pretty sure Caccavallo hadn’t scored or started a game in six months or so. Better yet, he scored a second just after the hour and despite M’Baye Niang getting one back, little old Salernitana held on and defeated AC Milan at the San Siro. Holy giant-killing Batman, we were cup quarter-finalists.
We were now the only Serie B side left in the competition and fortunately, the gods had favoured us by giving us Palermo away. They had clearly seen the Milan game and were having none of it, creating numerous chances in normal time but a combination of Pietro Terracciano and excellent defending (I was shocked too) meant we made extra time at 0-0. Then in extra time, Nicola Dalmonte was played into the area. The Palermo keeper came flying out for no reason so Dalmonte stood it up and Joao Silva nodded into the empty net. We were flying and got the required bit of luck when Palermo’s new signing Robert Snodgrass missed a sitter. They paid for it too as Massimo Coda sent Silva through and he smashed it in to send us into the semi-finals. Incredible!
Sadly though, I fear our journey will end with the two legs against Roma although it has been an incredible one.
Tactical Change (Again)
Why can’t we defend? Attacking 3-4-3, that’s why. You couldn’t make it up, honestly.
Sorry for the lack of information. Stuff like player performance etc. will be touched on at the end of the season rather than acting as a filler point to get a longer post.
Hopefully you have enjoyed this latest update. Let me know on Twitter (link as always beside this post if you’re on the site) or better yet Slack. Follow that link to @FM_Samo’s tweet to get joined and then search for #thelongballfm to come join my channel and the conversation. You might even see me mention what happens in the cup semi final too.