Last season: Chievo 2010-11 season review The 2010/11 season was an overwhelming success for Chievo Verona. Under the watchful eye of untried Serie A boss Stefano Pioli, ‘the flying donkeys’ had their highest league finish in five years with 11th place and reached the last sixteen of the Coppa Italia before bowing out to eventual runners-up Palermo. Along the way there were impressive home wins over Rafa Benitez’s Inter Milan and an impressive 3-1 away win in the San Paolo against Napoli, as well as a remarkable comeback from 2-0 in Turin to grab a 2-2 draw with Juventus. All this meant that Coach Pioli earn’t an unlikely interview for the vacant Coach’s role at Roma at the end of the season before eventually getting his move to Palermo.
The Squad: At the start of the 2010/11 season, critics of the Gialloblu were predicting that the team would struggle. The Coach was untried at the highest level and the majority of the players he had brought in were unknown and untried at this level. Players such as Swiss international Gelson Fernandes were brought in on loan and a deal was rushed through for Guinea international playmaker Kevin Constant whom most fans had never heard of. Pioli also paid out a substantial fee for a player he knew well in Davide Moscardeli from Piacenza, but as the critics pointed out, the striker had never stepped out of his comfort zone in Serie B.
All these players played their parts in a highly successful season. At the halfway point, the club had to turn down an offer from AC Milan for Constant. The midfielder did however leave this summer for Genoa in a deal reported to be around £5 million. Holding midfielder Fernandes also left at the end of the season although he was only on loan last season and opted to re-join his former Manchester City boss Sven Goran Erikssen at Leicester City instead of resigning. Long-serving left-back Andrea Mantovani finally left after three years of constant transfer gossip, his destination was a surprise however as he followed his ex-boss Pioli to Palermo.
In terms of replacements, the new coach has so far only brought in two new players of any note. Twenty-one year old year striker Alberto Paloschi has been brought in on loan from Milan with the club also forking out to own half of his contract. Twenty-four year old Finnish international midfielder Perparim Hetemaj has been signed outright from Brescia to boost the engine room.
Coach: With Coach Pioli moving onto pastures new, the President had a massive decision to make on who would replace him. The hot seat only stayed empty for one week however, as Domenico Di Carlo was chosen as the man to replace him just one summer after moving onto what he hoped would be bigger things with Sampdoria.
Di Carlo joined Sampdoria with the club in the Champions League play-offs and a front pairing of Giancarlo Pazzini and Alessandro Cassano. The team lost in play-offs to Werder Bremen and by January had lost Cassano to Milan on free after his contract was ripped up and Pazzini was sold to Inter. Sampdoria were well and truly embroiled in a relegation battle and Di Carlo was given his marching orders.
Prior to this experience, Di Carlo had achieved two successive 14th place finishes with the Gialloblu, a feat which was admired by many until Pioli arrived and took them a step further. Di Carlo will have his work cut out if he is to equal Pioli’s success, especially after allowing key personnel to leave.
Players to watch: Apart from the usual suspects of goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino and talismanic captain Sergio Pellissier, the players to watch are the two new signings Alberto Paloschi and Perparim Hetemaj.
Paloschi has become surplus to requirements at Milan and spent most of his career out on loan. The young frontman scored 16 goals in 57 appearances whilst at Parma. Di Carlo believes he can add more firepower of Pellissier and Moscardelli. Hetemaj is three years older than Paloschi and has more experience with spells across Europe with the likes of HJK Helsinki, AEK Athens and Twente before his spell in Serie A last season with Brescia. This should bring another dimension to the Chievo engine room.
Prediction: With a squad visibly weakened by the three major departures and only two new arrivals, a season of struggle is expected by most. As ever with the Gialloblu, the first aim is for survival. If the new arrivals settle quickly, the achievements of last season maybe possible. If they don’t the struggle maybe closer than they think.
Sardo – Andreolli – Cesar – Jokic
Luciano – Rigoni – Hetemaj
Pellissier (C) – Paloschi