High expectations defied once again, so what next for Genoa?

As the Genoa players celebrated their win over Brescia in front of their home fans at the weekend, one could almost sense the bittersweet emotions running through the atmosphere. Here was a team enjoying only their fifth victory of the calendar year and yet the season had started so much more differently for the Grifoni.
When Enrico Preziosi took over Genoa in 2003, the team was on the verge of being demoted to Serie C1, but the much debated decision to expand Serie B to 24 teams saved the Rossoblu from plying their trade in the third tier of Italian football. After finally being demoted for match-fixing related accusations at the end of the 2004/05 season, the team made the mammoth climb to Serie A with the help of Coach Gianpiero Gasperini, who subsequently became one of longest serving coaches in Italy. On the last day of the 2006-07 season, Gasperini’s side drew 0-0 with Napoli and two of Italy’s famous clubs were back in the top flight.
It is strange then how the fortunes of these two have been so converse this term. At the start of the season, Genoa once again invested heavily in the market as a load of new names arrived at the Marassi in an attempt to repeat the success of the 2008/09 season where the team finished in fifth place narrowly missing out on a Champions League spot. Experts and pundits alike expected the Genovese to mount not only a serious challenge for a top four finish but some even thought they could be in the title hunt. But things didn’t quite pan out the way they were expected to, as the Grifoni managed to win only three of their opening 10 games.
With the season’s objectives compromised, Preziosi made possibly one of the few mistakes he has made in his Presidential career as he parted company with Gasperini and brought in Davide Ballardini, a man not particularly renowned for his coaching exploits. Since Ballardini’s arrival, the Rossoblu have won only eight times and from being a team that wished to contest for the title, they have had to deal with the threat of relegation. Not even the most ambitious gambler would put any sizeable money on the former Lazio Coach still being on the Marassi bench next season raising questions about the future of the team once more.
The squad is undoubtedly talented and Preziosi’s dealings in the transfer market have been nothing short of genius on most occasions. Whether it is holding the rights to Kevin Prince Boateng or making Inter pay almost twice of what they thought they would fork out for Andrea Ranocchia, Preziosi has been an astute businessman. But now, for the club to make that leap which their opponents from 10th June, 2007 have made presents a monumental task after having been so close only two seasons ago. A Coach who will bring stability is undoubtedly a necessity, but Preziosi on his part will also need to exercise some consultation in his transfer activity rather than dumping players on his manager.
The task for this team to make their ambitions of European elite only becoming tougher next season with Italy due to lose out its fourth Champions League spot. But on the bright side, an underpar and underachieving season like this one, will serve to lower the height of expectations which has been placed on this squad in recent times. And in that moment maybe, they will find the spirit of the team once more who delighted Serie A just a few years ago.

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