Europe will be a bridge too far for Malesani and Genoa

Expectation was high last season when Genoa decided to ramp up their transfer recruitment policy and look to purchase players to elevate them higher up the table. However, inconsistency resulted in a poor tenth placed finish, prompting the club’s management to fire Gian Piero Gasperini in early November. His replacement was Davide Ballardini, who despite guiding the team to two derby victories over Sampdoria, was himself replaced this summer by Alberto Malesani, formerly of Udinese.
The club has taken similarly decisive action regarding playing staff with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Rafinha, Eduardo, Abdoulay Konko and Domenico Criscito having all been allowed to leave. In their place comes a fine mix of youth and experience. Youngster Alexander Merkel has arrived from Milan, Sebastien Frey from Fiorentina, Valter Birsa – who is one to watch – arrives from Auxerre while Cesare Bovo has been signed from Palermo and the promising Kevin Constant from Chievo.
With again so many changes, the same question is begged of new Coach, Malesani. Can he gel this new group of players into a side strong enough to push for a European spot?
In a smart move, Malesani is reverting back to the tactical formation laid by Gian Piero Gasperini. This system is familiar with many of the players and this should help him in his attempts to build a competitive team. Criscito’s departure will be noted, however, Constant’s arrival will make this less so while Marco Rossi is still around to provide an option for the new Coach on the wing. With such an attacking formation along with some of the other players at his disposal, the side has the potential to really inspire and entertain the Genovese faithful this season.
In Ballardini’s six months at the club, one suspects he was haunted by his inability to settle on the central midfield combination. The return of Miguel Veloso from injury will be like a new signing for Malesani and the club for that matter. Along with the Portuguses, club stalwart Omar Milanetto could also be used to help dictate play from deep and provide the distribution down the flanks which is where Genoa will be aiming to hurt many teams.
Another problem that the club seemed to have resolved this summer has been for the position between the sticks. Sebastien Frey arrives from Tuscany to replace the Portuguese, Eduardo. Consistent, highly experienced and grossly underrated by just about everyone, the revolving door of goalkeepers could be finally trapped shut with this astute signing. The Frenchman is also a natural leader which will greatly assist in bringing unity to this freshly assembled squad.
Last season, the side contained a raft of attacking talent such as Raffaelle Palladino, Giuseppe Sculli (sold in January to Lazio), Roberto Acquafresca, David Suazo and Rodrigo Palacio, yet, il Grifone failed to score in a third of their games. Along with Palacio who has remained for now, the hope in attack this season lies at the feet of the experienced Caracciolo who was signed on the final day of the transfer window. The Italian scored twelve goals in thirty appearances for struggling Brescia last season, including a strike at the San Siro against Inter. A proven goal scorer over the years, with his ability and with the better service he will be provided by his new teammates, the 6’4’’ prima punta should better his strike rate this term.
Malesani was brought in primarily because his tactical style best reflected that of Gasperini’s, the man that led the Rossublu back to the Serie A four years ago and took them as high as fifth place during his tenure. The former Parma boss is also known for his impressive man-management skills which he displayed so well at Bologna. A club that was riddled by internal dispute, where player wages went unpaid, presidents came and went, and points were deducted, he still managed to lead the side to a comfortable mid-table finish. The positive spirit that remained amongst the team was noted by many and Malesani was given much of the credit for this.
Replicating the success of Gasperini will not be an easy task. While they may prove difficult opposition, European qualification is perhaps beyond il Vecchio Balordo. However, a strong mid-table finish is definitely possible and anything less will be deemed a failure.

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