Season review: Bari – Season over before it even started

It is rare to blame only one man for the failure of an entire club but in Bari’s case many point the finger at President Vincenzo Matarrese for the club’s relegation this year. Having been the surprise package of last season, they dazzled their way to a 10th place finish by playing an attractive brand of attacking football. Their organisation, neat passing game and defensive solidity made them the team everyone loved to watch.
Fast forward to this season and it all fell apart. Offensively impotent and defensively weak, the current Bari side are the antithesis of the team they were last season. Struggling to finish the chances the do create, the squad have only scored 27 goals, practically half of what they managed last year. Moreover, the side have the third worst defensive record in Serie A as they have struggled to replicate the fine defensive performances of last season when they boasted players such as Andrea Ranocchia and Leonardo Bonucci.
In truth, the season was over before it started. Struggling financially since the President relies entirely on ticket sales and TV rights for money, their saving grace for the past few years has been Sporting Director Giorgio Perinetti, who brought in great players despite the restricted budget and the current Siena Director whose work helped the Serie B side secure promotion. Blessed with an eye for talent, his loss before the start of the season was a great catalyst for the Bari collapse. His replacement Guido Angelozzi’s transfer campaigns have failed to bolster a team that continues to mourn the departed.
Injuries have also ravaged a side that was barely functioning. Missing Paulo Barreto for large chunks of the season, Bari were missing a goal-scorer who could finish and proper replacements for the player were never found. Management took a gamble on too many unknown kids and few have lived up to their expectations.
Void of self-confidence, it became apparent that the squad needed a change and the Coach soon left, as Bortolo Mutti took over the reins. It appeared unlikely to most that Bari could avoid the drop but Mutti wanted to play for honour and one cannot deny that he certainly improved the side, especially in defence.
Switching to a 4-3-2-1, he afforded the fragile back-line more support by deploying two defensive midfielders tasked with guarding the defence. Considering that the team were conceding two or more goals per game in their last seven matches under Ventura, Mutti’s arrival saw an immediate improvement as the defence only conceded four in their first five games under him. Moreover good performances against Bologna, Udinese and Milan showed that the team were united in their efforts to restore honour to the side. Nonetheless, not even he could solve the offensive riddle.
President Matarrese’s indifferent attitude to the running of the club that sees them continuously struggle for finances and his failure in keeping Perinetti on-board – the only man apt at keeping the ship from sinking, finally condemned the club to Serie B.
Coach – Giampiero Ventura:
Denied proper reinforcements and cursed with a string of injuries, Ventura could do little to keep Bari from the drop. He failed to solve the problems at the back and when he realised not much more could be done, he made way for Mutti’s arrival.
Player of the season – Simone Bentivoglio:
Performances such as the one against Roma in May demonstrate just how effective the midfielder has been this season. An engine in the centre of the pitch, he has made the highest amount of key passes per game and has offered this side much needed creativity.
Turning point – Defeat to Brescia February 6th, 2011:
It was the side’s seventh consecutive defeat and the point in which Ventura admitted there was a serious problem. The team were suffering and the Coach was out of ideas – his exit proving to be the only option.
Average XI:


Andrea Masiello – Belmonte – Rossi – Parisi

Bentivoglio – Almirón – Gazzi

Huseklepp – Ghezzal

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