There is the old saying that a week is a long time in politics. Well, the last two weeks at the Via Del Mare must have seemed like an eternity to anyone connected with the Salentini. For those who are unsure as to what I’m referring to, here’s a quick reminder. Almost a fortnight ago, Lecce won a hard-fought match against Catania to maintain their unbeaten home record. As the international break arrived, all seemed rosy in Puglia until Coach Luigi De Canio went public to criticise his president Pierandrea Semeraro’s meddling with transfer policies. All hell broke loose. The president retaliated and for a short time it looked like De Canio was about to quit the club as tempers flared very rapidly, with definitely no love lost between himself, his boss and the other directors.
Thankfully, a clear-the-air meeting has since calmed the waters and with just 72 hours to go before the game in Turin against Juventus, the team appears to be back on an even keel. In a show of democracy, Semeraro and De Canio used Thursday’s press conference to explain to everyone that: “a meeting has taken place between ourselves, vice-president Mario Moroni, club delegate Claudio Fenucci and my brother Ricco. It has been critical for us to analyze the events of the past days to see how we can best work with the coach”, said Semeraro. He appeared to be confident in the Coach’s ability to deliver the goods, as it were, and spared no efforts, once again, to underline the very remarkable fact indeed that all difficulties had been ironed out presto.
On a more technical side of things, the club should now be delighted to welcome back inspirational captain Guillermo Giacomazzi for the weekend’s big game. There was a scare in training on Thursday when the 33-year-old pulled up with a slight knock to his ankle but the club hopes to have him fit as a fiddle in time for Sunday. The midfielder has been explaining on the club’s official website this week that he is relishing the challenge of playing against the Bianconeri in their own backyard. He is under no illusions about the upcoming Juve clash, knowing full well the calibre of their Sunday opponents, but – far from having a disheartening effect on him – he enthused: “It is always great for a player to compete against opponents of this quality and this is all the motivation we will need. Our Coach is building a strong team here and we will look to capitalise on our last game when we had a very positive result”.
Having said that, however, the Salentini still look set to be without Uruguayan striker Javier Chevanton and Norwegian defender Tore Reginiussen for the trip to Turin, both of them having trained away from the main group following some injury woes. Conversely, one player who is reported to finally contend for a starting berth is defender Alberto Giuliatto: at Thursday’s training session, he rejoined his teammates for the first time after his recent lay-off. The man in the middle for Sunday’s match will be Gabriele Gava from Conegliano while more good news off the field came this week as the club announced a new main sponsor. Veneto Banca has signed up with the Giallorossi on a three-season deal. This is the first big sponsorship deal that the club has had for over seven years and president Semeraro was – no doubt – in raptures proudly proclaiming: “the bank has decided to come on board with a view to developing its business in the Puglia region. We hope we will have a very successful partnership”. On the other hand, one would be forgiven for thinking it has probably been a case of mixed fortunes for the Primavera side over the past week or so. A great aggregate win against Frosinone in the first round of the TIM Cup was followed by a narrow defeat at the hands of Roma in the first leg of round two. Guido Di Fabio’s men went down 2-1 to the capital side, with the winning goal coming just two minutes away from full-time and Luigi Falcone constantly on target for the visitors. Even so, getting some confidence back after going through a rough patch will, of course, make the youngsters more optimistic about their chances to overturn the deficit in the return match on October 27.