2008/09 – The Robur’s annual objective to avoid relegation was made easier last season thanks to the astute tactical know how of Coach Marco Giampaolo. The wonderful performances of Moroccan midfielder Houssine Kharja seemed to inspire teammates around him. Striker Massimo Maccarone’s nine goals also helped Siena to a 14th place finish, a full 10 points from the danger zone. Notable home wins against Roma, Fiorentina and Napoli proved that this small provincial club deserved a seat at Calcio’s top table. The tifosi will hope the forthcoming campaign can equal last season’s achievements.
2009/10 – The summer brought uncertainty for the Tuscans as Coach Giampaolo was courted by many other Serie A clubs, but in the end he stayed loyal to his current employers. The departure of Kharja was offset by the arrival of the Brazilian hot shot Reginaldo from Parma, with another notable acquisition being forward Michele Paolucci from Juventus. If Giampaolo can repeat his wizardry of the previous campaign, then there is no reason why the Bianconeri cannot cement another mid table finish, again taking some notable scalps along the way.
Transfer campaign – Another summer of wheeling and dealing has taken place at the Artemio Franchi, with Giampaolo selling on some of his prized assets. Houssine Kharja, Juan Camilo Zúñiga, Manuel Coppola and Daniele Galloppa all brought in much needed finances. Coming into the club as well as Reginaldo and Paolucci are a host of co-ownership and free transfers as the financiers attempt to balance the books. The Coach has been left to get on with things as, unusually for Italian football, a realistic sense of what can be achieved has been the basis of the clubs success.
Agostino Garofalo – Grosseto – free transfer
Gaël Genevier – Pisa – free transfer
Mato Jajalo – Slaven Koprivnica – €1.6m
Gianluca Pegolo – Genoa – €800,000
Reginaldo – Parma – €2m (co-ownership)
Francesco Parravicini – Parma – €1m
Michele Paolucci – Juventus – €3.3m (co-ownership)
Cristiano Del Grosso – Cagliari – €450,000
Michele Fini – Cagliari – free transfer
Albin Ekdal – Juventus – loan
Filipe Gomes Ribeiro – Roma – free transfer
Houssine Kharja – Genoa – €5m
Juan Camilo Zúñiga – Napoli – €8.5m
Manuel Coppola – Parma – €1.2m
Daniele Galloppa – Parma – €2m (co-ownership)
Nicola Belmonte – Bari – loan
Antonio Ghomsi – Mechelen – loan
First XI – Giampaolo is expected to stick to his 4-4-2 formation that proved successful last season. Ex-Roma youth product Gianluca Curci was an inspiration between the posts and has made the position his own. It is attack where all emphasis will be placed. It would seem that Massimo Maccarone will have to settle for a place on the bench as new acquisitions Reginaldo and Paolucci lead a two man front line in the hope of increasing the number of goals scored. Maccarone will be the impact player coming off the bench when needed. Simone Vergassola will again skipper the team from midfield.
77 Ficagna – 13 Rossettini – 90 Portanova – 21 Rossi
23 Jarolim – 10 Codrea – 8 Vergassola – 17 Fini
9 Paolucci – 7 Reginaldo
The Coach – Marco Giampaolo is one of Italy’s most promising young coaches. He arrived in Tuscany in 2008 after a turbulent two years at the helm of Cagliari. He has strict principles and woe betide anyone who dares to cross him. A traditionalist, he promotes the 4-4-2 formation with his squads always having pace up front. Working within the controlled structure of Siena seems to suit this quiet unassuming young man. This term, a finish around mid table will be considered a successful season which will undoubtedly be Giampaolo’s last, before he moves on to bigger things.
Team/reliable player – Skipper Simone Vergassola is the heart and soul of the team – Mr Consistency. He was an ever present last season and chipped in with a couple of goals as well. This season will be his sixth at the club, and again, Giampaolo will look for his inspirational captain to drive the team forward. Playing in a midfield four, Vergassola can sit just in front of the defence or play further up field in a more creative role. It will be hoped that he can maintain the levels of the last campaign as he is Giampaolo’s on field general.
Creative force – All eyes will be on one of the new boys, Michele Paolucci, who was an inspired piece of summer business from the Coach, snatching him from the clutches of Catania where last season he scored seven goals in 26 games. The young man from Recanati is one of Italian football’s up and coming stars, and Siena will hope he can continue his rich vein of form from the start of the new campaign. Playing up front with his new strike partner Reginaldo, he is sure to get the tifosi at the Artemio Franchi excited.
Youth prospect – Filipe Gomes Ribeiro, brought in from Roma, is certainly one for the future. He was spotted by talent scouts whilst using the Giallorossi’s training facilities in Trigoria. Having only played one match for the club, his career could have a dramatic twist to it as Giampaolo saw his potential and brought him to Tuscany. Playing as an attacking midfielder, the 22-year-old has suffered three horrific knee injuries, but now his career looks set to blossom at the Bianconeri where he could certainly be one to look out for this season.
The fixtures – Siena open with a glamour tie at home to Milan and it is at the Artemio Franchi where they will look to pick up points. Within the first nine weeks Siena play host to Roma and Juventus as well as having potential six pointers with Chievo and Livorno. Giampaolo will hope that his team are sat comfortably by Week 32 as the Robur have a difficult finale. Away to Udinese, home to Palermo, a local derby away to Fiorentina and finally finishing at home to Inter.
Home grown players – Out of the current squad of 34 players, Siena can boast a healthy contingent of home grown players. Incredibly, 20 of the first team squad are Italian – an impressive 58% of the playing staff. Siena is renowned for its fantastic youth development and last season they came within a whisker of winning the Campionato Primavera, narrowly losing to Palermo in the final. The future looks incredibly bright for the Tuscan’s as this burgeoning crop of talent start to make their mark on the big stage.
Predictions – Even the most fervent supporter of Siena will tell you that survival is the main aim once again for this small club. Following on from the achievement of last year, a final league placing around 12th would be classed as a step in the right direction. As other teams in Serie A look to a European placing, Giampaolo will settle for league consistency and maybe a chance to blood some more youngsters in the Coppa Italia. The tifosi on the Curva Robur will give their team full backing at the Artemio Franchi, and next May Giampaolo will leave with his head held high.