Season preview: Lecce – Salentini are looking to avoid the dreaded second-season syndrome

Last season: Lecce 2010-11 season review
The Squad: It was safe to say that after their remarkable exploits last season, Lecce were keen to improve the general individual quality of the squad and they’ve made additions in keeping with such a thought. Goalkeeper Julio Sergio has arrived from Roma to replace Andrea Rosati. Defenders Andrea Esposito, Moris Carozzieri and Juan Cuadrado have joined the club in a hope to improve fortunes for a defence that conceded 66 goals last season. Christian Obodo and Rodney Strasser have arrived to add steel to the midfield while former France youth international Bryan Bergougnoux and Piacenza striker Daniele Cacia have been acquired to bolster the attack.
In terms of the dynamics of the squad, the signings they have made do not resemble much of a departure from the formula of last season and with a new Coach at the helm, it appears that the belief of the club is that less player turnover will hopefully maintain some consistency with the new man at the helm. There were no truly outstanding stars for Lecce last season and it would appear the approach will be no different this year with the new arrivals indicating strength in defence and a reinforcement of the strong squad ethos that served them well enough last season. The attacking approach deployed by Coach Luigi De Canio served them well last season and if these additions prove to reduce the goals conceded tally then Salentini could surprise some this season. Much appears to rest on how the new Coach, Eusebio Di Francesco fares with this group of players.
Coach: Eusebio Di Francesco
This is Di Francesco’s first coaching job in Serie A and is only his third coaching job so far in his career. He earned plaudits last season as he took Pescara to a respectable mid-table finish in Serie B and has been awarded with the hotseat at Lecce. His Pescara team was well-balanced and this will be something that Salentini tifosi hope will be translated to their team last season while not neglecting the attractive attacking football used by previous Coach Luigi De Canio.
It is highly unlikely that Di Francesco would wish to depart much from the style of play they used last season and while he will like all Coaches, wish to put his own stamp on the team, the sensible option would appear to be to introduce any new ideas gradually especially with a team with the objectives that Lecce have. The man-management skills that he displayed during his brief tenure at Pescara indicate that he knows how to create a strong team ethic and while the team ethic he has inherited is good, it will only serve to improve the team further. It will be a steep learning curve for him as a Coach but it’s a challenge that, his playing career would indicate, he will relish.
Player to look out for: Moris Carozzieri.
Back from his suspension, Carozzieri has to rebuild his reputation on the field. At the age of 30, he will be a key figure for Lecce if they are to maintain their Serie A status. A good season for him and he may well find himself on the up to better things, with or without Lecce.
Your prediction: Matching last season’s achievement of safety would be a success for Salentini but second-season syndrome may strike them in the way it did Bari last year.
Probable XI:

Julio Sergio
Tomovic – Carozzieri – Esposito – Mesbah
Piatti – Giacomazzi – Strasser – Olivera
Di Michele – Corvia
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