The sharks were circling and eventually they feasted. Daniele Arrigoni was sacked this week by Cesena to be replaced by serial job-hunter Mario Beretta. But have the Seahorses found a pearl, or have they been lumbered with driftwood?
Cesena will certainly be hoping it’s third time lucky for their relegation battle. After dispensing with Marco Giampaolo, the Bianconeri surprisingly brought in former Bologna man Daniele Arrigoni to try and stop the rot. And when he failed to reverse the decline, they have left their fate to Mario Beretta, famous for his sunglasses and constant battles with relegation, to try and present the coastal club with a third straight Serie A campaign.
So where did it go wrong for Arrigoni? His last post-match interview following defeat to Milan (1-3), Arrigoni explained ‘We were ugly. We didn’t start well and we never got the levels we should have. We left ourselves too much to do and were punished.’ Sadly, his words could be used to describe his entire Bianconeri tenure. Of his reign, Arrigoni won four and lost nine of his 14 games in charge, but perhaps crucially it was the form against the sides above them that caused the most concern. In the games against Novara, Lecce and Atalanta, who make up three of the four sides directly above Cesena (Arrigoni didn’t face Siena who sit 17th,) he only won once, against Novara and was beaten by Lecce and twice by Atalanta. Towards the end of his spell in Reggio-Emilia, the Cesena native experimented with a back three which saw 12 goals shipped in five games. Time was called after Sunday’s defeat to Milan, meaning Arrigoni has now been sacked from his last five jobs.
The statistics of Cesena’s season make grim reading, giving vital evidence for the inquest into such a torrid campaign. Cesena are the fourth most aggressive side in Serie with regards to cards given which includes five reds, have the fourth lowest possesion count (44.3%) and they make the least amount of tackles, averaging only 19.5 per game. They also average only four shots on target per game, meaning the pressure on their strikers to find the net is even more important.
So how is Mario Beretta an improvement on Daniele Arrigoni? Beretta, like Arrigoni is a tactician who regularly faces the bullet. Sacked from his previous four jobs, Beretta is perhaps still living off a reputation built up at Siena, twice saving the Tuscan minnows from relegation in successive seasons. Losing his job at Lecce, Torino, PAOK (Greece) and Brescia in the past four seasons seems to have done little damage to his ability to find more work, although this could indicate a lack of good quality coaches available to Serie A presidents at this moment in time.
Beretta prefers to be flexible with his tactics rather than have one guaranteed style, although it would be fair to say his default formation in his previous jobs is 4-3-1-2. In his training sessions this week, the new boss has also experimented with 3-5-2, although it is the former that is likely to be on show in his first game at Chievo on Sunday. Although there is no certainty with the formation, there are some aspects of the Seahorses style that the jet-heeled tactician has already conceded, stating ‘All I promise is intensity and commitment. Although the situation is not ideal, the squad has the right characteristics to achieve salvation.’ Perhaps the Milan born coach is talking up his side, but a squad containing the likes of Adrian Mutu, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Mario Santana is always capable of creating chances.
Beretta acknowledges the scale of the task in hand, and was honest in his assessment of the season, combined with caution in his predictions. ‘It’s been tough, psychologically and physically the players have taken a lot of knock-backs, and there are many hurdles and mountains still to negotiate. We can stay up, but it will require many aspects, both within and out of our control.’