Last season: Novara defied expectations last season by gaining a second straight promotion to seal their place back in Serie A for the first time since 1955/56. However, they had the archetypal season of two halves. The team from Piedmont topped the table for most of the first half of the season, but totally collapsed in the second half – going winless between February and April. The Biancoazzurri secured nine points from their final four games assuring them third place and a place in the playoffs. They then beat Reggina in the semis before a famous 2-0 aggregate win over Padova in the final.
The Squad: Novara were always likely to struggle on their return to Serie A, but their chances of survival will be made all the more difficult following the departure of two of their top goalscorers. Pablo Andrés González has gone to Palermo (he was actually signed in January but was allowed to complete the season with Novara on loan) and Cristian Bertani has joined Sampdoria. Attacking midfielder Manuel Scavone, who played 25 times, has also left to join Bari.
In terms of signings, the club has gone for policy of bringing in young players either on loan or in co-ownership deals. Japan’s Takayuki Morimoto has been signed in a co-ownership deal with Catania, but with only two goals in 13 appearances last season it’s hard to see him being an adequate replacement. Brazilian Jeda has been brought in on loan from Lecce, with an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season but again, he scored just four goals in 25 games last season. Riccardo Meggiorini is another attacking player, signed on loan from Genoa, but he scored just once in 25 games last season. Defenders Santiago Garcia is on loan from Palermo, and Paolo Hernán Dellafiore joins in a co-ownership deal with Parma, as has midfielder Andrea Mazzarani, on loan from Udinese.
Coach – Attilio Tesser: Tesser has a point to prove after being sacked from the four management jobs he held before he joined Novara, including a one-game stint at Cagliari. Tesser built much of the success of the last two years in partnership with sporting director Pasquale Sensibile but the latter has now left for Sampdoria to be replaced by Carlo Pederzoli who has worked with Milan and Liverpool. Tesser created a team which is very hard to beat, having lost just twice at home in two seasons. Last season Tesser tended to employ a variation of 4-3-3 with Scavone playing just of the front two. It also shouldn’t be forgotten that Stadio Silvio Piola boasts the only artificial pitch in Serie A, which could prove problematic for teams not used to playing on astroturf.
Player to look out for: Marco Rigoni played once for Juventus and made a handful of appearances for Italy at youth level. In his thirties now, he will be the man to guide the younger players along and he will relish his chance to shine on the big stage at last.
Prediction: A long, probably unsuccessful, battle against relegation
Morganella – Lisuzzo – Garcia – Dellafiore
Mazzarani – Meggiorini – Rigoni
Motta – Jeda – Morimoto