Season review: Catania – Respectable finish but still below expectations

Eager to start creating a worthwhile project, Catania started the season with high expectations. The ludicrous amount of money made from the sale of Jorge Martinez to Juventus, the ability to hold on to star striker Maxi Lopez and the employment of Marco Giampaolo, a Coach Pietro Lo Monaco described as one of the best in terms of tactics, were all signs that indicated the Management were desperate to achieve something this season.
However, Catania soon experienced the familiar feeling of disappointment. Whilst the fans could at least enjoy the odd dazzling performance by the team last season under Sinisa Mihajlovic, Giampaolo’s Catania were described by many critics as boring, overly defensive and with players reluctant to fight for a win. Moreover, teamwork appeared to be a foreign notion for the side united only by their indifference. Points were steadily accumulated but it became glaringly obvious that this was a side missing an identity and one that won either by luck, or by exploiting certain situations as opposed to superior play and the ability to create goal-scoring opportunities.
However, despite the inadequacies of the Coach, it should also be noted that he was not entirely to blame. Players failed to truly realise the value of the shirt and rarely listened to instruction whilst Management stayed silent for far too long, failing to intervene or scold the Coach and players for certain lacklustre performances. Moreover, it should be noted that the team lacked talent in key areas of the pitch such as the left-back role and the squad suffered greatly from a high number of casualties that regularly forced the Coach into fielding make-shift squads
Nonetheless as has become the norm in Italy, the Coach was replaced with the President admitting that whilst the team accumulated a respectable 22 points from 20 games, it was not enough for a squad he deemed to have been the best they have had for a long while. Even with the arrival of Diego Simeone and new recruits, who have indeed helped Catania score more goals, the club still did not perform according to expectations. Defensively weak, Simeone attempted to bolster their attacking potential. However, whilst they managed to score on a more frequent basis thanks to the help of their winter market arrivals, constructing goal-scoring opportunities from open play was still their major weakness this season with most of their goals arriving from set piece situations.
With the arrival of Simeone, the side improved psychologically and began to work together as a compact unit, determined and focused until the end. Off the ball movement improved as did their willingness to take shots on goal. However, despite appearing more determined, the side still suffered from an inferiority complex and their solitary away victory all season is symptomatic of their intimidation at facing sides away from home or ones that boast a number of champions within the team.
However, despite their problems this season, Catania still finished the season with a respectable position in the league and a huge victory in the Sicilian derby that will forever be etched into their memory.
Coach – Marco Giampaolo:
Despite promising to field a formation that would suit his players’ skills, Giampaolo continually deployed the same tactics regardless of who he had available. Certain journalists dubbed him as ‘stubborn and set in his own ways refusing to listen to those around him’ and he soon became a victim of his own tactical ideals as he seemingly lost the faith of his players leading to the appointment of Diego Simeone.
Player of the season – Matias Silvestre:
Whilst Maxi Lopez is considered the star player, Silvestre has been the most reliable player of the season. Making the highest number of clearances per game, the player has single-handedly rescued the team from tricky situations and helped fortify a fragile back-line. Moreover, his ability to get forward and score has seen him become the team’s second highest goal-scorer.
Turning point – Coppa Italia match 13 January 2011:
The loss to Juventus was Catania’s third consecutive defeat and the moment in which it became apparent the Coach had to be changed and he duly was one week later. The squad were edging closer to the relegation zone and psychologically the team looked defeated and uninterested.
Average starting XI:

Andújar

Potenza – Silvestre – Spolli – Capuano

Ledesma – Carboni

Gómez – Ricchiuti – Bergessio

Maxi López
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