Cagliari under Roberto Donadoni

Whether or not Pierpaolo Bisoli deserved to go so early into Cagliari’s season will forever remain an unanswered question especially when one considers that building a project was the aim of the game. However, disgruntled players, spats within the team including the Coach and a Tactician focused almost entirely on his defence forced President Massimo Cellino to change things around and introduce Roberto Donadoni to the side – a man often associated to negative tactics.
Announcing plans to make his side more attack minded, the Coach has since delivered and the results speak for themselves. 15 goals in 10 games means the Sardinian side now average 1.5 goals per game, up from 0.9 under Bisoli.
Tactically, he has tweaked the side to offer more support to the front-line and exploit the strengths of his players. To take an example, under Bisoli, Andrea Cossu was previously urged to only play through the middle, staying put in a central position to balance out the squad. In addition to limiting the player’s creative influence over the game, the tactic allowed opponents to easily mark the player out of the game as was seen in the match against Napoli when up to four players were caught tracking the trequartista. However under Donadoni, the player is encouraged to roam the pitch, taking up different positions in the attack giving him more opportunities to make his mark. The squad has also been consolidated as the formerly wide distance between defence and offence has been shortened whilst the full-backs are urged to push forward. As a result of the changes, the front line and the likes of Cossu are offered more support thus allowing for a more potent attack.
As far as substitutions go, Donadoni still has much to learn as the game against Cesena illustrated. His substitutions failed to make an impact and his decisions were described as bizarre. Whilst it was necessary to bring on Andrea Lazzari, Daniele Conti should not have been the player to take off. It is worth noting that until yesterday, Cagliari has lost the games in which Conti hasn’t played and his good shots from distance and leadership skills could have well proved decisive when searching for an equaliser.
Psychologically however, the team is somewhat transformed under Donadoni. He has often quoted maturity and a positive attitude as the reasons behind his victories and the match against Palermo perfectly demonstrated that. The change in mental attitude was noticeable in the first match for Donadoni against Brescia away. Whilst the home side dropped off in the second half, Donadoni’s men remained alert and clinched the winner to secure their first away win since 10 January 2010 and a perfect start for their new Coach. Moreover, there seems to be a united spirit within the dressing room and more examples of personal sacrifice on the pitch.
However, his team also have a tendency to be complacent when in the lead. Against both Lecce and even Bari yesterday, Cagliari stopped playing to allow both opponents back into the game making for unpleasant viewing as Donadoni’s men attempted to cling on to their lead. Often looking lethargic, the Coach must ensure concentration levels are kept high throughout the entirety of the match.
It may be too early to judge Donadoni’s tenure but however you look at it, six wins out of 10 is certainly an achievement worthy of respect.

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