Welcome back to the Salernitana Story where you left us at the apex of heartbreak following our defeat at the hands of Serie B’s rulemakers. With promotion denied so cruelly, the team and the man in charge was at a crossroads. Just where do we go from here?…
I’ve put this off because something doesn’t feel right. I’ve been wavering, my faithfulness tested. Do I take another job? Plenty of reputable English sides have been sniffing around. We came so close to greatness yet came so agonisingly short. This team is on the brink of greatness but can I really take them there?
This is a constant battle I’ve been having for nearly a month with this save. I decided though that the best option was to plug on and take this team to the top tier.
And I may have made an error…
It was a surprisingly quiet summer for outgoing transfers. We lost only one first team regular for a decent fee and shifted out a couple of squad players that wouldn’t play too much and were taking up precious squad spaces.
In terms of releases, nothing much of note went out our doors other than veteran defender Raffaele Schiavi and a couple of youth prospects that hadn’t kicked on as hoped such as Pietro Maione. There was also the usual smattering of loan deals with notable names leaving temporarily including Riccardo Franchini (and the curious move to Grimsby); Adrian Cerda; Valerio Mantovani; Mattias Andersson and King Udoh.
Now for the more notable departures. Out first was Greek goalkeeper Michalis Iliadis whose inability to stop anything saw him sold to, of all teams, Premier League Bournemouth for £40,000. The hero of that night in Milan, Giuseppe Caccavallo, also left but only temporarily as he joined Lummezzane. He was joined out the door by Nicola Casini. This was a tough choice but Casini’s loan move to Padova was enforced by first signing of the summer. Hopefully the regular playing time will do him wonders.
Our biggest departures were reserved for the later days of the window. Firstly, centre back Mattia Bani had a release clause in his contract for just £1.4 million. Unfortunately, newly promoted Pescara were distinctly aware of this fact and met the clause so less than a year after arriving on a free, Bani is off to play in Serie A. I also decided that Levan Mchedlidze was of no use to me anymore and loaned him out to Frosinone for the season.
This is where you may begin to see the issues with my staying at Salernitana. The outs were easy but where do I improve? There were so many great players out there within our incredibly limited budget but did I really need them? This team did so well last season that it would be criminal not to trust them.
And that has been my undoing this summer – sentimentality. I toyed with so many players that could have made us so much better and left it. Even when I did sign a player, it was after a lot of deliberation. And I mean a lot. Romanian full back Mihai Balasa came in on a free after being released by Roma in the summer. That was the cause of Casini’s loan departure mentioned earlier. Bani’s departure also enforced another arrival as well – Colombian defender Jherson Vergara. Nothing of real note here other than one replacing another.
I also added midfielder Michele Castagnetti on loan from Spal for extra depth with Max Busellato still out with his long-term injury from the end of last season. He played Serie A football last season at Spal and, for a small fee, he’s pretty much a “just in case” kind of buy. I also added young midfielder Fabio Monti from Monza for less than £10,000 who could develop into something very exciting.
We had the usual cannon fodder in pre-season so not much to say really. We did manage to beat Serie B rivals Latina 3-1 but there was also a draw with lower league Racing Roma and a defeat to feeder club Pro Patria. Moving on…
And we move on to the competition that probably kept me in a job during the early parts of last season where I was hopeful we could at least make the First Round proper once again. Of course, this being Football Manager, nothing was going to be that easy.
We were drawn against recently relegated Serie C side Ascoli and we were very good. Control, domination, chances and it finished 0-0. We also lost Pietro Terracciano to injury and that could have proved costly as we were dumped out on penalties. Frustrating is not the word.
We also had our opening game of the Serie B season which, very kindly by the fixture computer, gave us a home derby against Avellino. Sadly, it was much the same story as the Ascoli game with a clear domination of the game but once more we just couldn’t find the cutting edge to get the win. 2-2 was a frustrating result especially considering we handed them their two goals.
And that is it. This season is in its infancy and I have a bad feeling that this could go horribly wrong and I may be forced to turn the Salernitana Story into just The Story.
That, however, is another worry for another day. What would you have done this summer? Am I being too downbeat? Is this the end of the road at Salernitana? Let me know on Twitter, on Slack (if you’re there) or via the comments here.