2008/09 – Chievo’s main concern for last year must have been to prevent an immediate return to Italy’s second division. However the Mussi Volanti managed only one win in the first 13 games leaving them deep in relegation trouble by November. A 3-0 defeat to Palermo saw Coach Giusseppe Iachini dismissed and Domenico Di Carlo was brought in to try and improve the fortunes of the club.
By the new year, a number of impressive results had lifted Di Carlo’s new side out of the relegation zone. Between January 11th and April 5th, Chievo were defeated just once. As a result, the side secured another season in the top flight finishing in 16th place.
2009/10 – Chievo will go into this season looking to reinforce their position in Serie A. As one of the smallest clubs in the league, a worry for their supporters will be how the side will attract the players necessary to improve upon last season. Nevertheless, Coach Di Carlo is certainly capable enough to guide them to a better final position this time around. If he is to achieve this objective then his side must be able to turn draw games into victories more often – last season only bottom of the table Lecce acquired more draws than the Verona based side.
Transfer Campaign – So far Chievo have been quiet in the transfer market, preferring to focus on bringing in loan players and securing the futures of their star players. Following their superb form throughout the 2008/09 campaign, the close season has already seen South American duo Mario Yepes and Santiago Morero sign new contract extensions, and the club will also be hoping that influential striker Sergio Pellessier will demonstrate a similar gesture of commitment.
Chievo’s one notable acquisition so far this summer has been Luca Ariatti from Lecce – the 30 year old midfielder will look to compensate for the departure of Kerlon following his season long spell at the club.
Stefano Sorrentino – AEK Athens – £1.7mln
Luca Arriatti – Lecce – £300K
Michael Miskiewicz – AC Milan – Loan
Giampero Pinzi – Modena – Loan
Pablo Granoche – Triestina – Co-Ownership
Angelo Antonazzo – Frosinone – Co-Ownership
Kerlon – Inter – end of loan
Antonia Langella – Bari – Co-Ownership
First XI – Chievo under Di Carlo have reverted from a 4-3-3 formation to a more defensive 4-3-1-2, allowing the full backs Nicolas Frey and Andrea Mantovani to push forward down the wings and assist the striking duo of Pellissier and Erjon Bogdani. Despite being the second highest goal scorer at the club last season, experienced midfielder Michele Marcolini will probably renounce his position of attacking midfielder to younger Giampiero Pinzi.
21 Frey – 2 Morero – 33 Yepes – 4 Mantovani
10 Luciano – 16 Rigoni – 19 ARIATTI
23 Bogdani – 31 Pellissier
The Coach – At the helm of Chievo, Di Carlo has certainly gone the right way to rebuilding his reputation in the Serie A following his brief and unsuccessful spell in charge of Parma. His arrival in early November last year appeared to rejuvenate a side which had looked increasingly likely to be relegated. By settling on a 4-3-1-2 formation, he has stabilised the squad and allowed striker Sergio Pellessier to flourish up front.
Reliable Player – Experienced and consistent, Mario Yepes has by the end of his debut season with the club already established himself as one of the most significant characters in the Chievo setup. A key individual in the side’s escape from the drop last year, his impressive form has already been rewarded in recent weeks with a new contract, which will keep him at the club for a further two seasons.
Creative Player – With 13 goals last season and the third highest number of assists in the team, skipper Sergio Pellessier is currently the most important player on Chievo’s books. A handful for opposition defenders, the Italian international’s scintillating recent form has not gone unnoticed by opposition sides – with numerous other Serie A clubs linked with a swoop for the striker. If he does decide to leave the Bentegodi during the transfer window, questions will no doubt arise over how the club can replace both his presence in the side and more importantly, his goals.
Youth Player – Although only arriving at the club on loan from Serie A giants AC Milan, young polish goalkeeper Michael Miskiewicz is certainly one for Chievo fans to look out for. The first Pole ever to sign for the Rossoneri, Miskiewicz is highly regarded within the Milan youth set up and will be looking to push current goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino for a first team place whilst at the Bentegodi. If he impresses, Chievo have the option at the end of the season to sign Mikiewicz permanently as part of a co-ownership deal.
The Fixtures – It seems likely that Di Carlo will be looking to secure a decent base level of points early on in the campaign. Having seen previous boss Iachini sacked after a dreadful run of 12 games without a victory – Di Carlo will be looking to get off to a much better start. After a tricky opener against Juventus, Chievo face mostly mid table sides throughout September and October. It will also be important for the Gialloblu to perform well against the promoted sides Livorno, Parma and Bari – the latter of which they face on October 18th.
Home Grown Players – Chievo’s squad registers an 70% Italian contingency, despite this, the minority of foreign players at the club currently make up the core of the first team. Of the back four, only left back Mantovani was born on the peninsula, the 25 year old playing in defence alongside South Americans Mario Yepes and Santiago Merero as well as Frenchman Nicholas Frey.
Prediction – After surviving their first season back in the top flight, fans of the flying donkeys will be hoping that the side will be stronger for the experience next season. Chievo will need more than the enigmatic Di Carlo to keep them away from the drop zone this time round though, and having not as yet improved their squad enough another season of struggle awaits – particularly if they lose star striker Pellessier. If they do indeed sell the Italian international then their position in Serie A will in all probability not extend to a third season.
Position – 18th.