Salernitana Story Season 6, Part 2 – Reflection Time

Another season is complete and it’s been one filled with frustration and disappointment again. That means it’s time to reflect on how this save went from celebrating promotion to trying to cling on to any form of glory…

This season was so bad I’m just going to cover it in as little detail as possible.

January’s ins saw the arrival of experienced heads Andrea Masiello (centre back cover) and Sebastian Giovinco. We didn’t really need Giovinco but, come on, it’s Giovinco. Needless to say it was a pointless signing in the end. Masiello wasn’t great either and is now out for six months with a hip injury so I’m half hoping he just retires and frees up space.

January also saw Niko Datkovic and Aivars Krizanovskis throw tantrums because I wouldn’t let them join Heerenveen and Novara respectively for joke fees. Aivars was the most confusing as he’d joined six months previous and I wasn’t just going to let him walk out and make a loss after his great start. They both stopped complaining when they realised the interest was fleeting.

Our form? Shit.

That’s six wins in twenty games for anyone who can’t bothered counting. In fact, from a total 60 points available, we earned just 25. TWENTY F**KING FIVE! Unacceptable. Somehow, some way though, we managed to con ourselves into another eighth place finish in the league.

No sneaking into the play-offs this season however. There needs to be, at most, a fifteen point gap between us and third and the top three were so far ahead by the end of the season that Verona got automatic promotion in the end. For those lazy with maths too, we were 21 points of Verona and 23 off automatic promotion. Shambolic.

Player performance? Who cares. Rustichelli, Cesellato, Cappa and NJSB were the only real highlights while new signing Vanheusden did a decent job for a young lad thrust into action. I’ll go into more detail on each player in an upcoming post but we’ll get to that too. Here’s the stats for your perusal.

That’s it for the roundup then. There’ll be no loan watch, no youth watch and no real detail to it. I hated this season more than any I’ve played on FM for a long time and it’s left me to reflect on just the what, the why and the how of this save going a bit wrong.

Where Did I Go Wrong?

I should preface this by saying none of this is going to be very fact based or backed up with screenshots. These are my feelings on why things have gone a little bit sour.

The big turning point I think was season four. More pointedly, my recruitment during the summer before the start of our solitary Serie A campaign. Barring Datkovic and Fontanesi, they were disappointing signings. Oikonomidis is on his way out of the club this upcoming summer when his deal finally ends. He’s on over £10,000 a week and his three seasons have seen him make 73 appearances, scoring 9 goals with 9 assists. Without signing on fees and whanot, I’d estimate he’s cost us around the £1.5 million mark in wages alone. That’s the same amount as our most expensive signing so far in this save (Emmanuello from Modena this past summer) and his return has been extremely minimal for that kind of money. To put it in perspective, he’s been directly involved in 18 goals in three years while, just this season, academy product Gaetano Rustichelli has been directly involved in 16. Not good enough.

Nikos Vergos cost £1 million and managed seven goals in two seasons before we sold him at a loss. He was supposed to be the great saviour in front of goal but he was a colossal failure. He didn’t fit our system and it was a panic purchase really. I was wowed by his stats and one season of productivity in Cyprus. Another poor showing.

Zsolt Kalmar was also brought in and played sporadically. While we sold him after relegation for a healthy fee, he could have been a creative difference maker in Serie B. However, like Vergos and Oikonomidis, his contributions in the solitary season at the club were sporadic at best and he rarely justified his status as the highest paid player in the squad.

Finally, Yohei Kajiyama may have been a brilliant find and great pickup on a free but his actual contribution to Salernitana’s history was two goals in 27 appearances roughly. While we made a huge profit on him, his contributions were non-existent and I should really have looked to bring in a more proven striker to supplement my shoddy attack.

And that’s the issue here. I didn’t address the issues we had before promotion. I didn’t buy a proven scorer, I didn’t solidify our defence and I didn’t get more depth into the squad. I instead bought players that were slightly better if not the same level as we already had and expected them to outperform themselves on the biggest stage. And because of that, I was unable to hold onto our biggest and most important names.

Moses Odjer wanted to join a bigger club because he could see we were going nowhere fast. Max Busellato left this summer because he saw he’d have a better shot at going up with Chievo. And now, it’s Gustav Olsson who wants to leave because he’s sick of playing in Serie B as well.

I have kept far too much faith in these players and we need fresh faces and hungry players to get out of this slump. Riccardo Cappa was one that came in and offered something new and exciting. Manolo Portanova has been brilliant since he arrived. Aivars was great when he played. NJSB was lethal when he played and we need more of that.

I honestly believe if we’d stayed in Serie A, we could have kicked on and made something of ourselves by now. However, my inability to take a risk on the final day saw us slump into Serie B and I’ve not gotten over that. If this save is to progress, I need to become ruthless. This is my Shankly moment at the end of the 60s when he became too loyal to the likes of St. John and Hunt. I need to clear out and start afresh. No more ‘he’ll come good’. It’s impress or f**k off.

The era of ruthless business is upon Salernitana.

Nobody is safe…

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