Well it’s nearly upon us once again. Just under a week to go until the start of the brand new Serie A season. Up and down the peninsula you can hear the collective murmurs of excitement, anticipation and in some areas, nervous exhaustion. Millions of fans across the globe have hung on the every word that has come out of their team’s camp. Many forums up and down the country have been jammed with fans eager to air their views and make their predictions. Some fans go to the extreme of shouting from the rooftops about how their boys will fare, but not in the city of Verona.
There has been an air of quiet confidence coming from the closed doors of ‘The Flying Donkeys’ as they prepare for their ninth season out of the last 10 in Serie A. It has been yet another quiet summer, but progressive for the ‘Gialloblu.’
Transfers (so far);
In; Bostjan Cesar (Grenoble), Jefferson Trazzi (Lecce), Ledian Memushaj (Paganese), Roberto Guana (Palermo), Davide Moscardelli (Piacenza), Mariano Bogliacina (Napoli), Amedeo Calliari (Lumezzane).
Out; Mario Yepes (Milan), Alessandro Evangelisti (Sambenedettese), Erjon Bogdani (Cesena), Yonese Hanine (Crotone), Manuel Iori (Livorno).
One to watch;
Many fans of the ‘Gialloblu’ openly displayed their dismay when towards the end of the 2009/10 season when it was announced that the reliable Columbian international Mario Yepes would be seeking pastures new at Milan for the forthcoming season. They needn’t have worried however as sporting director Giovanni Sartori had an ace up his sleeve. He already knew that the club were close to agreeing a deal for Bostjan Cesar. The 6’3 Slovenian international centre-back is a like for like replacement for the Columbian. At 28 years of age, he has a vast amount of experience to go with his years, having had spells at Dinamo Zagreb, Marseille and West Bromwich Albion. He also has 45 international caps to his name including the odd goal against the ‘Azzurri’ in a World Cup Qualifier back in 2004. All this means that the ‘Gialloblu’s’ backline should remain as solid as ever.
Andrea Mantovani & Stefano Sorrentino
With a new Coach at the helm of the National team, there are players throughout the top flight who will have just cause to remain optimistic about a call up to the ‘Azzurri’ for the upcoming European Championship qualifying campaign. Two candidates are in fact in ‘The Flying Donkeys’ backline.
Firstly left sided defender Andrea Mantovani. The former Torino defender has now spent five years at the Stadio Bentegodi and he has represented the ‘Azzurri’ at every level from under 15 to under 21’s. The left-back, who has made 126 appearances for the Verona club, signed a new four year contract in 2008 and had a fantastically consistent season last term and as such has been strongly linked with moves all summer to both Genoa and Napoli. Many people believe that with Prandelli at the helm of the national team, Mantovani will get his chance.
The other ‘Azzurri’ hopeful is goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino. The one time Juventus, Torino and AEK Athens stopper had a wonderful 2009/10 after signing permanently from the Greek side. Although it’s widely renowned that Prandelli will be sticking with Gigi Buffon as his first choice stopper (having announced him as skipper as well) it’s very much a case of anyone’s guess as to back-up for the Juventus custodian after the not so positive showings in the World Cup. Sorrentino himself was reported to have been on the verge of signing for Genoa in the summer until the deal collapsed at the 11th hour.
One to deliver;
With 83 goals in eight years at ‘The Flying Donkeys’ Pellissier is the main man at the Stadio Bentegodi. His efforts have earned him just the one solitary cap for the ‘Azzurri’ (which also happened to include a goal), and there are many who believe that he should be given another chance. At the age of 31 though time may not be on his side. As skipper, his thoughts this season will always remain on delivering the goals that keep the ‘Gialloblu’ out of trouble.
With the club remaining one of the more financially secure and tighter run, President Luca Campedelli has to continually look at ways of getting the best out of limited resources. The first way to achieve this is by looking for a hungry untried coach. In Stefano Pioli he has found a man with a point to prove. He has an impressive record at Serie B level but has limited top flight experience which he gained at his home town club Parma in 2006. He was sacked two thirds of the way into the season with the club struggling in 19th place. The Parma native will be desperate to make amends second time around.
After two consecutive 14th place finishes, the ‘Gialloblu’ will be very aware just how important it is that they continue to dine at the top table. Having managed to keep hold of their best players, and having replaced Yepes with a much younger version in Cesar, the club should have enough in the tank to keep themselves away from trouble, especially looking at the quality of the three clubs who have come up. If they can keep Pellissier fit and motivated, not only can they have a good run in the cup, but he may just find himself sneaking into Snr Prandelli’s plans.
A 15th place finish for Pioli’s men.