After Sunday evening’s baptism of fire at the Giuseppe Meazza, where his team were systematically dismantled 4-0 by a revitalised Milan side, coach Luigi De Canio was in philosophical mood. In the post-match press conference he confessed: “we paid the price for our timid approach to this game”, after seeing his side three goals down before the half hour mark. He continued by reassuring all fans of the salentini by explaining: “there is no drama in the way we were defeated, above all I hope that we will change the way that we prepare for our next game. It is true I am angry at the way my players performed but we will address these problems before our next game against Fiorentina”. He continued: “This defeat will not change anything. We knew how hard this championship would be compared to the one we played in last season and we will fight all the way for our salvation”.
De Canio now has the added bonus of a two-week break before the season recommences with a visit to the Via del Mare from Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side. The balance of the team that started Sunday’s game in Milan looked suspect, De Canio opting for a 4-2-3-1 system playing Daniele Corvia as the lone striker. Once his side had capitulated in the opening exchanges, he quickly brought new signing Ernesto Chevanton into the fray sacrificing defender Alberto Giuliatto. In doing so, he switched to a 3-5-2 system trying to flood the midfield and attempt to plug the gaps that had been exploited so easily by Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo.
The team’s second-half display gave cause for optimism, but there was no escaping the fact that an improvement is required immediately if the club’s stay in the top-flight is to last longer than one season. De Canio explained why he had made the change so early by stating that “Giuliatto missed a lot of last season through injury and it will take more time for him to get back to his full match fitness. Tonight he found himself up against a wonderful player in Alexandre Pato and I realised I had to make a quick change”. The coach also pointed out that “we really missed” midfielder Ruben Olivera who was suspended and that “some of our players are still learning Italian so communication is something we must continue to work on”.
The club have immediately delved into the transfer market and within 24 hours of the horror show in Milan, the side has been strengthened by three new arrivals. First in was 24-year-old striker Edward Ofere from Malmo, initial negotiations had taken place last Thursday but the deal was finalised on Monday afternoon. Ofere was quickly followed by Parma duo Manuel Coppola and Andrea Rispoli. Coppola will add strength to the midfield whilst Rispoli is young defender with a bright future ahead of him- both arrive on loan deals until the end of the season. De Canio also refuses to give up the chase for Sampdoria’s Guido Marilungo, the young striker who served the club so well in its promotion from Serie B. According to press reports, Lecce directors have met with the player’s advisors in an attempt to bring him back to the Via del Mare. Should these attempts fail it is believed that they will turn their attentions to Catania’s Mirko Antenucci to strengthen the squads attacking options.
There was good news for two of the salentini’s up and coming prospects this week, as Andrea Bertolacci and Giulio Donati were both called up to represent their country at under-20 level against Poland on September 6th in Wronki. Bertolacci is a 19-year-old midfielder who has made just six appearances for the club, so this call up will be invaluable for his career development. Donati, a 20-year-old defender, made his debut for the club in Milan on Sunday and his inclusion in the under 20 squad will be some consolation after such a wretched weekend. The next 24 hours are going to be frantic, as the club attempts to bring in new faces before the August 31 deadline, the next two weeks are certainly going to be pivotal for the club’s season.