Relegation is never a fun thing for any team and Salernitana had just discovered that fact. The realities of being back in Serie B are hitting home now…
This season was a lot shambolic so I’m just going to breeze through this update and plan ahead for season 6 where wholesale changes are in the works.
Let’s get into it…
I actually expected to be overhauling our squad during this season with players kicking up a fuss over our relegation. However, the only real talk I had with any player was with Moses Odjer who made it clear that he wished to move to a bigger club. We reached an agreement on our valuation for the player and agreed to sell him. Nice, easy, no fuss. We eventually sold to Marseille for an initial £3 million that should rise to £5.25 million with a sell on clause as well when he joins West Ham for £14 million.
The next major sale was a bit of a surprise – Zsolt Kalmar had done OK in Serie A for us but never really set the world alight so I was surprised to see a bid for him arrive from Spanish side Cadiz. We eventually agreed a deal that’ll be worth about £2.5 million after clauses.
The final sale for money in the summer was that of the experienced Massimo Coda to Bari for £275,000. He had complained about a lack of game time and his goalscoring record meant that I couldn’t really justify keeping him on the books. To get any sort of decent fee for him with a year to go on his contract was a win in my books.
We also had the usual spate of releases and loans too. Notable names let go by the club include Alessandro Tuia, Jherson Vergara, Michael Kouame and Valerio Mantovani. Vergara was an atrocious signing; Tuia was about fifteenth choice centre back by this point; Kouame was a massive let down and Mantovani never really developed in the past four seasons.
Loanees this season included Gaetano Rustichelli and Stefano Pettinari to Cittadella, Michele Vitale to Pro Patria and Fabio Monti to Messina.
January saw just the one departure with Yohei Kajiyama joining Louis van Gaal’s West Ham for a straight £5 million, a massive turnaround in a year for a player that barely scored for us.
Despite having plenty of money, I didn’t actually want to spend any of it. This season’s failings can be attributed to this as I never seemed to shake myself out of the sadness of relegation. I was too loyal to many of my past stars and they disappointed. I did sign some players though.
I opened the summer by making Leonardo Fontanesi’s loan from Sassuolo a permanent one for £825,000. He did well towards the back end of last season and should be a quality Serie B player.
He was joined by a replacement of sorts for Moses Odjer. Lazio have spent four season stockpiling as many young Italians as they can into their youth teams meaning there’s a wealth of talent available for cut price deals. I managed to snare 21 year old Manolo Portanova from our affiliate for just £155,000! What an absolute bargain for a player of that quality.
He was soon joined by another midfielder that was more of an indulgence than a necessity. David Silva is a man that needs little introduction with Premier Leagues, World Cups and European Championships to his name. He may have been 34 at the time of signing but he wanted to join us so who am I to pass up that opportunity.
Our final summer signing was goalkeeper Thomas Romboli who was given to us for free by Lazio. We had an injury to Gustav Olsson at the time so I thought I may as well especially since it’s not costing us anything.
As I will talk about later on, we struggled horribly in front of goal this season and, in January, I tried to rectify that by signing Alexandre Pato on loan from Lazio. Again, this deal was costing me nothing and, for a big name like Pato who should be more than good enough to take on Serie B, it was a no-brainer.
The departure of Kajiyama late in January facilitated another striker join and, fortunately, I had been doing my scouting and identified young Mattia De Chirico of AlbinoLeffe. We agreed a fee of £800,000 rising to £950,000 dependant on clauses and De Chirico was ours.
We also picked up German striker Leon Kern in March as we hit a bit of an injury crisis.
Usual meaningless friendlies although this result came from nowhere…
We opened the season up in the Second Qualifying Round against FeralpiSalo, who are in Serie C. Our first competitive game back after relegation and would the boys be able to bounce back? No…
Let’s just get this out of the way. We were not very good. Here’s our results…
And here’s the final league table…
Positively, we managed the second best defensive record in the league. We certainly tightened up at the back and it was usually two of Shaqir Tafa, Niko Datkovic and Fontanesi at the heart of the defence with Gustav Olsson in goal maturing this season into one of our top performers.
Negatively, we were atrocious in front of goal with only four teams scoring fewer than our 38 goals. All of our front men were guilty of missing chances and we never really got too much in the way of creativity. Worse still, if we’d taken some of our chances, we’d have probably turned about six or seven of our 18 draws into wins and been there or thereabouts in the promotion hunt.
As it was we scraped into the play-offs on our head-to-head record against Trapani in ninth. We met Brescia in the opening round where we eased through thanks to an early red card for them. We got Latina in the semi finals who, like us, were not an overly goal happy side. We were shambolic at home but were only one down in the return leg. I decided to throw the kitchen sink at them and it almost worked but, in the end, we ended up losing 5-4 on the night as we went down in a blaze of glory and shambolic defending.
So, no promotion for us and, for the fifth season of six in this save, we’re in Serie B. How does anyone find this enjoyable to read?
Vinicius – 40 appearances, 4 goals, 2 assists, 7.29
He was the best defender in Serie B and one of the players of the season in the whole division. It was another genuinely incredible season from our left back who has been one of the best signings I’ve made on FM in a long time.
Francesco Della Rocca – 31 appearances, 4 goals, 6.94
Not the greatest average rating but what Della Rocca did as an anchor in midfield was pivotal to how we played. Chipped in with goals too but his season was destroyed at the end by an achilles injury.
Pettar Markkanen – 34 appearances, 2 assists, 6.93
A breakout season for the Finn. Had featured here and there in the past but finally gained my trust with a series of solid performances in different roles across the midfield. Had one of the assists of the season too for Nicola Dalmonte.
King Udoh – 21 appearances, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.64
Oh dear. He surprised me with some decent performances in Serie A but it seems the King doesn’t fancy Serie B that much. His one goal was a wayward shot that hit him in the face and, apart from that, he did f**k all.
Nicola Dalmonte – 40 appearances, 12 goals, 2 assists, 6.85
He might have been our top scorer but those stats are padded by his hat trick against Latina when we went balls to the wall in the play-offs. For the most part, he was anonymous and trudged through games without any real purpose or use. Probably won’t return for another season on loan.
Leonardo Fontanesi (£825,000, Sassuolo) – 28 appearances, 1 goal, 1 assist, 7.06
Solid season from a very good player. Expect more of the same next season. 7/10
Manolo Portanova (£155,000) – 32 appearances, 1 goal, 4 assists, 7.01
What a bargain. Signing of the season for me by far and can really only improve from here. A key part of our future. 8/10
David Silva (Free, Unattached) – 29 appearances, 6.77
Indulgent signing but one that didn’t really fit. He’s still got quality but he can’t run anymore and that probably didn’t help him in a side that needs mobility to succeed. 5/10.
Thomas Romboli (Loan, Lazio) – 2 appearances, 2 clean sheets, 6.90
Third choice and came in handy off the bench when Olsson picked up a knock. 6/10
Alexandre Pato (Loan, Lazio) – 13 appearances, 6.63
Pish. Gets an extra point for costing absolutely nothing at all. 2/10
Mattia De Chirico (£800,000, AlbinoLeffe) – 16 appearances, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.68
A kid that impressed on his debut but soon struggled with the step up. A learning and adapting period but expect more next season. 5/10
Leon Kern (Free, Unattached) – 5 appearances, 6.57
I was desperate OK! 1/10.
A mixed bag once again. Francesco Leone looks to be a decent player but not much else to write home about.
So another season in Serie B is upon us and the eagle eyed in the transfer section may have noticed that Alberto Barison has been sold. That’s just one of a number of outgoings I expect to be happening over the summer. We will be losing Dalmonte and Tafa too as their loans come to an end while I do have a couple of new faces lined up to come in.
This is set to be a huge season and I really want to gun for promotion. Can we do it? Are you still interested in my failed attempts to be good at the game? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@LongBallFoot).