2008/09 – Last season saw Bari promoted in early May – a 2-2 draw away to Piacenza guaranteed them the Serie A with three games left to play. The Serie B season was as always hugely competitive with several teams chasing automatic promotion positions from the off. A controlled start by the team saw them slowly chip away at early leaders Livorno, until wins against Mantova and Sassuolo in late February and early March saw them take first place. Their on-the-road record went a long way to securing Serie A football at the San Nicola next season, something which has been missing since 2001.
2009/10 – The summer saw the departure of fans’ favourite Coach Antonio Conte, replaced by experienced Giampiero Ventura. He now has the job of bringing together a blend of young guns and experienced veterans looking to prove themselves, this is the mix with which Bari intends to establish itself in Serie A. The fans would have preferred an intake smaller in quantity and greater in quality, maybe just one or two names who’d give greater pedigree to the squad, nevertheless the Serie B win and the excitement around the club have led most to believe the side can survive the top flight.
Transfer campaign – Confirming Paulo Barreto, Vitali Kutuzov and Andrea Ranocchia very much pleased the fans, and there has been a considerable intake of new faces, Riccardo Meggiorini, Leonardo Bonucci and Riccardo Allegretti will hopefully inject some further quality to the side. Some arrivals appear to be contradictory to the team’s necessities. Edgar Alvarez Reyes and Antonio Langella are two of four wide midfielders who’ve joined over the summer and that means there are six people for those potential two positions, that could prove to be too many, and the club seems to have a greater need for an experienced centre-back and a forward who can partner Barreto up front.
Filippo Carobbio – Albinoleffe – free transfer
Edgar Alvarez Reyes – Pisa – £1.5m
Davide Lamberti – Sapri – £75 000
Nicola Belmonte – Siena – loan
Antonio Langella – Udinese – £1m
Rey Volpato – Piacenza – undisclosed
Riccardo Allegretti – Triestina – £200 000
Leonardo Bonucci – Genoa – £1.3m
Riccardo Meggiorini – Cittadella – £2.7m
Daniele Padelli – Sampdoria – loan
Vladimir Koman – Avellino – loan
Matteo Paro – Genoa – loan
Giuseppe Greco – Pisa – loan
Filippo Antonelli – Triestina – undisclosed
Ferdinando Sforzino – Udinese – £350 000
Paulo Barreto – Udinese – £1m
Raffaele Bianco – Juventus – end of loan
Davide Lanzafame – Parma – end of loan
Almamy Doumbia – Andria – £100 000
Stefano Guberti – Roma – free transfer
Francesco Caputo – Salernitana – loan
Giuseppe Statela – Salernitana – loan
Gianluca Salasso – Salernitana – loan
Starting XI – With all this activity this is what will probably be the starting XI for Bari on the first day of the season –
5 Masiello – 13 Ranocchia – 19 Bonucci – 21 Parisi
90 Alvarez – 4 Carobbio – 14 Gazzi – 23 Langella
10 Barreto – 69 Maggiorini
The Coach – A tactician of the Italian old school, Giampiero Ventura’s managerial career started early on, due to injury. His initial post was with the Sampdoria youth team, his first full appointment was with Albegna in 1981. He eventually landed the job at Pistoiese where some noticeable results led him to bigger sides, in the late 1990s he was recalled to Sampdoria. Ventura has managed 17 clubs – Bari will be number 18 and the 61-year-old arrives amongst high expectations. He often adopts a 3-4-3 with wingers tearing up the bi-line, this contributed to the beautiful football of his last team, Pisa. He has experience, however history shows a number of short relationships with clubs and the job has just got harder in this cutthroat league.
Team/reliable player – A strong central midfielder Alessandro Gazzi will join new signing Carobbio in the middle of the park. His first real experience was with Viterbese where he made a name for himself in C1. He moved to Bari in 2004 where he has been since, bar a spell with Reggina where he contributed to their miraculous escape – his efforts were rewarded with him becoming the town’s honorary citizen.
For Bari he has played 161 games, last season he started 36 matches always playing the full 90 minutes, highlighting tremendous stamina. He only picked up five bookings, so fair-play can add to his humbleness and tactical awareness. The rise has been progressive and this is his chance to make it in the big league. Bari will need him to reproduce his past performances if they are to survive.
Creative force – The Brazilian Paulo Vitor Barreto De Souza moved to Italy early to pursue his career. He joined Treviso where 12 goals in 33 matches saw the team promoted to Serie A. In 2005 he was signed by Udinese – an important stepping stone where he got a taste of European football. However he was not yet prolific enough for this level and was loaned back to Treviso. Again he began to score more frequently in the lower league attracting Bari who signed him on a co-ownership. His first season at the San Nicola was a success – netting 23 goals in 31 starts. He now prepares for his second experience in the top flight and with the support of team and fans he must produce the goods in Serie A giving a valuable contribution to Bari’s campaign.
Youth prospect – The 20-year-old Hungarian Vladimir Koman arrived in Italy as young as 16. He was signed for Sampdoria for which he only made the rare appearance although he was instrumental in the youth team’s victory of the Primavera league. His efforts led him to winning caps for Hungary U-19s and he spent last season on loan at Avellino where he got first-team action at a more regular rate. His loan spell to Bari this season will be a great test in the top flight as he will surely be used to provide relief to the more experienced central midfielders.
The fixtures – Bari will realise they are in the top flight from day one as they travel up north to face champions Inter. Matches like these aren’t the most important games for the Galletti – to survive Serie A they will need to win the ties against their closer rivals, Bologna, who they meet in Weeks 2 and 21, and others like Chievo and Siena who they encounter in Weeks 8/27 and 14/33 respectively. The other two ‘new comers’ from Serie B – Parma and Livorno – will challenge Ventura and co in Weeks 10/29 and 12/31. In the last game of the season Bari will hopefully be safe from relegation as they host Fiorentina.
Home grown players – Despite the team’s skipper, goalkeeper Jean Francois Gillet, being Belgian, Bari boasts a remarkable amount of home grown players. Of their 25-man-strong squad last season just eight were foreign, including Gillet. Over the summer one of them, Almamy Doumbia, has left the club and out of the 16 new signings only two are of foreign school. The trend is continued in their starting XI where only three players are not Italian. This is no abnormality for teams who come up from the lower division and for old school Italian managers like Ventura.
Predictions – So far, Bari’s pre-season has been encouraging. The electricity around the San Nicola could suggest a competitive season managing to avoid the drop zone without too much hassle. The real season however, will be greatly affected by the forthcoming change in ownership. If it runs smoothly and the buyers are competent, Bari can hope for a bright future – if it drags out and leads the players into uncertainty the season could be over before January. Ventura will need all his experience and his star players in top form to sail the rough water of Serie A. Prediction – 15th.