‘Signore Preziosi has given me the most wonderful Christmas present.’ These were the words of Pasquale Marino when handed the reigns at Genoa CFC on December 23rd replacing Alberto Malesani. Preziosi’s Easter present to Marino was less wonderful, a Judas-like stab in the back for Marino, and Malesani rose from the dead for a second coming.
Alberto Malesani is one of those coaches who everyone seems to love, but not everyone would welcome at their club. His coaching exploits include a UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia wins with Parma, but also includes four relegations (Verona, Modena, Empoli, Siena.) Malesani sadly is perhaps more famous for a spectacular outburst to Greek journalists than his coaching career. Whilst in charge of Panathinaikos, he hosted a press-conference in which he yelled ’cazzo’ (an Italian swear word) 19 times and told the assembled media he doesn’t need to please them or the clubs fans, it’s just Signora Malesani who needs to be happy.
Recent years have seen Malesani mellow slightly, his crazy antics becoming less frequent. Although an argument could be presented that he’s crazy to go back to Genoa, a club who have gone through four coaching changes in 17 months (averaging just over one every four months.) Message-boards have been littered with a mixture of comments in reaction to the sacking of Marino and subsequent re-hiring of Malesani. One fan poignantly wrote ‘Before the arrival and during, everyone was against Malesani. But now that Marino has failed, Malesani has become the saviour?’
Another angry fan wrote ‘Perhaps our dear president should question his decision making in hiring coaches, rather than the abilities of the coaches themselves?’
Upon returning to the port city, Malesani will understand exactly which part of the team needs to be addressed, the area that has got him the sack first time around (6-1 in Napoli) and also put paid to Marino (5-4 against Inter.) The defence is the leakiest in all of Serie A, shipping 56 goals, a staggering nine more than cut-adrift at the bottom Cesena. Sebastien Frey appears less like the goalkeeper who starred for Fiorentina over the years each passing game, whilst defenders Granqvist and Kaladze don’t appear compatible. Another area to look at will be player discipline, as the Rossoblu have seen eight red cards this season and 71 yellows, the third worst in the league.
Amongst the doom and gloom (Genoa are also nine without a win) there are positives. In Rodrigo Palacio and Alberto Gilardino, Genoa have on paper one of the better frontlines in Italy. As well as the forwards, Genoa have other very capable players in Miguel Veloso, Beppe Sculli and Emiliano Moretti.If the Verona born tactician can get the best from these players, the Grifone can climb away from the relegation places to safer ground. The fixture list has also granted Malesani the opportunity to climb the table. The next five games include Novara and Bologna away, with Cesena and Siena visiting Marassi. Milan at San Siro is sandwiched between those games, but the Rossoblu will see four of those games as winnable with only three games to follow those five.
They say you should never go back, but Alberto Malesani will see a return to Genoa as a chance to repair a damaged reputation. A club with nine Scudetto wins (although their last was way back in 1924,) the fans that gather in Gradinata Nord believe their side should be challenging at the top of Serie A rather than struggling near the bottom. But right now, a win in Novara will be the extent of Genovese ambitions.