At the beginning of the season, many were tipping Bologna to spend the season battling against relegation. The club seemed in a permanent state of upheaval and when Franco Colomba was sacked on the eve of the new season even the fans began to fear the worst.
Colomba’s replacement was Alberto Malesani, released by Siena following their relegation to Serie B at the end of the 2009-10 campaign. Despite starting the season with a hard fought 0-0 draw against defending champions Inter, few believed that Malesani had the necessary skills to keep Bologna in Serie A.
In December the situation worsened for the Rossoblu when they were deducted a point for failing to pay taxes. Two more points were deducted soon after for failure to pay player’s wages and the side dropped from 10th to 15th in the league, leading many to again pencil Bologna in for relegation.
Bologna, though, were not going down without a fight and produced a phenomenal run of form that included victories over Palermo and Juventus to take themselves well clear of the relegation places. Key to this run of results was the form of club captain Marco Di Vaio. The forward revealed that he had rejected advances from Juventus and Inter in the past, choosing instead to stay with Bologna and do his part in the fight for survival.
Having contributed over half of the goals the Rossoblu have scored this season, Di Vaio’s importance on the pitch is beyond doubt, but the forward has contributed more than just goals to the cause this season. His attitude has galvanised the team on and off the pitch and he can be credited as the main reason that Bologna have successfully avoided the drop. Along with Di Vaio, the performances of Italy international Emilio Viviano in goal have been vital. His athleticism between the sticks and the commanding presence he provides behind the defence have been a platform for many good team displays.
Recently, though, Bologna’s form has tailed off badly. Had the season started in March, the Rossoblu would sit bottom of Serie A, such has been the extent of their slide. A winless streak spanning a good deal of the second half of the season has seen the side drop into the bottom half of the league and another change of president did nothing to encourage stability at the club.
Draws against Parma and Fiorentina towards the end of the season secured the Rossoblu’s top-flight future but that security came much later than they would have liked. Their recent loss of form has been a great concern, culminating in their 4-0 home defeat to Bari in the final match of the season. This poor form has lead to speculation regarding Malesani’s future with the club, but to part company with the Coach after what has been, in parts, an exceptionally successful season seems somewhat foolhardy. Another difficult season in Serie A awaits for Bologna and all hands will be needed on deck if they are to repeat their feat of staying up next time around.
Coach – Alberto Malesani:
Brought in just a day before the season began, Malesani has surpassed all expectations by leading Bologna to safety. He turned the Renato Dall’Ara into a fortress for much of the season with the side barely losing at home and instilled in his team a belief that, despite the points deducted, they had as good a chance as any team of surviving.
Player of the Season – Marco Di Vaio:
If there is one man who symbolises Bologna, it is Marco Di Vaio. The formerly nomadic striker has finally found a place to call hom and his goals, his commitment to the cause, his attitude have all been vital to keeping the club up. Truly Captain Fantastic.
Turning Point – Bologna 3-1 Lazio, 23/01/2011:
Bologna showed a great deal of fight, both literally and figuratively, to come back from a goal down and beat a strong Lazio side. A goal from Gaston Ramirez and a Marco Di Vaio brace set the Rossoblu on a their way to a victory that signalled the start of the brilliant run of form that saved them from the drop.
Average Starting line-up
Garics – Portanova – Britos – Rubin
Diego Pérez – Mudingayi – Mutarelli
Ekdal – Ramírez