It’s turning into yet another glorious survival season for Siena. The tiny Tuscans are looking good to secure their ninth season in Serie A in ten years, an amazing achievement considering the size of the Robur. Three straight wins have propelled the Bianconeri into 14th place, and there could be more to come.
When Siena lost coach Antonio Conte to Juventus this summer after the Juve legend had guided the Tuscans back into Serie A at the first time of asking, it would have been fair to believe that the momentum would leave with him and an immediate return back to the Cadetti was imminent. But now with hindsight, it’s difficult to envisage that Conte could have done any better than his replacement, Beppe Sannino. The Campania native had led Varese from Serie C2 to the Serie B play-offs (where he lost to Padova) in successive seasons. This landed him the Siena job, and he hasn’t let the small but loyal band of supporters down so far.
The revelation of the season, certainly in Siena eyes is Emanuele Calaio, the former Napoli forward. The scorer of 11 goals this season, the hitman has at times kept Siena’s heads above water by himself, but sadly for him he will play no further part in this season for the Robur. He fractured his fibula in Siena’s 2-0 away win at Cesena, a victim of a sliding challenge from defender Luca Ceccarelli. Though it’s difficult to say there was any intent on Ceccarelli’s part (it seemed a genuine attempt to play the ball,) it will be no consolation to Sannino and his men. Ceccarelli saw red for the challenge (which also saw the award of a penalty,) yet Siena miss their talisman for the remainder of the season. The only ‘good’ news for Calaio was that he didn’t need an operation to repair the damage.
Now that Calaio is missing, other forwards at the Tuscan side will have a chance to state their claim. Mattia Destro is the second top scorer at the club with a measly five goals, yet his last four goals have been doubles in a 4-0 and 4-1 victory, meaning his goals aren’t ‘match-winning’ strikes, and the Ascoli native hasn’t netted in his previous ten league outings. Between the rest of Siena’s forward line, only four goals have been scored, highlighting just what a big loss Calaio is. Coach Sannino is aware of the added responsibility of his forwards, saying ‘Calaio will undergo tests to discover the extent of his injury. For now, this is a chance for some players to show they have the correct attributes for this team.’
Two of the next three games will have a profound effect on which direction Siena’s season heads. Their next game on Sunday is against Novara, a match that Siena will see as a huge chance for another three points, whilst taking into account a possible Novara revival under former coach Attilio Tesser. A trip to Napoli follows, and then a trip to Stadio Bentegodi to face Chievo, another winnable game for Sannino and his squad. But it’s the Novara game that is the immediate focus, where a victory coupled with Lecce losing to Palermo would see the Bianconeri sitting ten points clear of the relegation places. But the bald-headed tactician tactician insists the game will be just like any other, telling Gazzetta dello Sport ’We must be more careful. It will be a game like Cesena, so we will still focus and aggression. If we play well we can step closer to salvation.’
One of the biggest compliments that can be paid to Siena is that any child born in the mid-nineties will see Siena as an established top-flight club. Those of an older Calcio persuasion will understand the battle to retain their status each season, and the compliments Siena must receive for the way they bounced back last season.
Should Sannino continue to perform miracles this season, don’t be surprised to see him prised away by one of the bigger clubs of Calcio. For the meantime however, he must concentrate on matters in hand, something that will suit the tactician just fine.