Serie B Monthly Focus – October – Early season winners and losers

Almost a quarter of the season has gone and the second tier of Italian football is again proving to be full of intrigue and surprise. Five Coaches have already received their P45’s as Brescia, Triestina, Albinoleffe, Reggina, and Salernitana have sought a new direction at this early stage of the current campaign, and there are surprises aplenty at the top of the table. Let Football Italiano guide you through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the opening weeks of the new season.

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It’s at the top of the league that the real success story of 2009/10 lies. It’s been a long road back from bankruptcy but Ancona are looking like serious promotion contenders this term. A special mention must go to President Giorgio Perrotti who has stood by Coach Alessandro Salvioni after last season’s nerve-wracking play-out victory over Rimini kept his side in Serie B. The Dorici have started this campaign on the crest of a wave and on Tuesday night a victory over Piacenza put them top of the table. What a testament to the patience shown by Perrotti to his Coach whose side are playing some wonderful football at the moment led by their mercurial striker Salvatore Mastronunzio, who has notched up six goals already this campaign. Similarly, Frosinone, a small provincial club from the Lazio region, have surprised everyone in the opening weeks and lie second in the table. Coach Francesco Moriero is working miracles on an absolute shoestring budget, and the romantics among us hope their good form can continue and provide Italian football with its biggest fairytale story since Chievo’s dramatic rise to prominence at the start of the decade. With a perfect blend of youth and experience, Moriero is building himself a reputation as one of Italy’s most promising young Coaches and it is surely just a matter of time before one of the peninsula’s major powerhouses takes a chance with the Lecce-born tactician.

Just a point behind Moriero’s men are newly promoted Cesena who, under the guidance of Pierpaolo Bisoli – the fearsome looking Coach from Porretta Terme in Bologna. Frosinone and Cesena are proving that teams can make the transition from Serie C1 to the Cadetti and have an immediate impact. Bisoli has made his side difficult to beat with veteran goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli proving an invaluable asset as the Bianconeri remain unbeaten away from home so far this season. The Stadio Dino Manuzzi has become an intimidating arena for visiting teams, having only been breached once this campaign as President Igor Campedelli dreams of bringing top-flight football back to this beautiful part of Emilia-Romagna. Incredibly, another newly-promoted side sit just two points off the leaders as Padova continue to surprise everyone with their great start to life in Serie B. Striker Antonio Di Nardo is the jewel in the Biancoscudati crown and his four goals already this campaign have got the Stadio Eugenio tifosi dreaming of a return to Serie A after a 10-year absence.

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Pre-season promotion favourites Torino seem to have steadied the ship that looked like totally capsizing in the early weeks of the campaign. Coach Stefano Colantuono has had a frosty relationship with President Urbano Cairo – a man not renowned for his patience – and after home defeats to Modena and Padova it seemed as if Cairo would wield the axe. But thanks to the division’s top goal-scorer, Rolando Bianchi, Toro have catapulted themselves back towards the summit of Serie B and now look like strong candidates to bounce straight back into Serie A. Lecce – another relegated side last term – are slowly moving in the right direction after an indifferent start. Coach Luigi De Canio can thank strikers Daniele Corvia and on-loan Sampdoria youngster Guido Marilungo for providing the ammunition that has propelled his side into the play-off places.

After an awful start, Salernitana finally picked up their first win of the campaign last weekend but it was not without its controversy as Greek defender Georgios Kyriazis now faces a seven-game ban for striking out at the match referee after he was dismissed just six minutes into the hotly contested game against Crotone. President Antonio Lombardi is already on his second Coach of the season replacing Fabio Brini after the club’s worst start to a season in decades. Marco Cari now has the unenviable task of clawing the Southerners off the bottom of the table and he will look to his midfield dynamo Francesco Cozza to lead from the front and will hope that Saturday’s win will be the catalyst to kick-start the season for his beleaguered side. The state of Crotone’s playing surface has been well documented on this very website but it is only one of the contributing factors as the newly-promoted side continue to struggle in their new surroundings. Finding the net has been difficult for the Pitagorici with only seven goals scored so far this season and there is the small matter of a two-point deduction given to them at the start of the campaign for financial misdemeanours in the summer. After Saturday’s drubbing in the derby match in Salerno, Franco Lerda must find inspiration from somewhere quickly or a quick return to lower reaches of Italian football will come sooner rather than later.

It’s been a shocking start for several of Italy’s southern representatives in Serie B – another club in tatters are Reggina, who parted company with their experienced Coach Walter Novellino after the defeat in Turin last Friday. New boss Ivo Iaconi has promised an immediate improvement in the club’s fortunes and will be looking to the experience of Sergio Volpi to ease the club out of its current malaise. President Pasquale Foti is also renowned for his eccentricities and Iaconi knows only too well if things don’t improve quickly, the side from Reggio Calabria will be looking for their third Coach of the current campaign. Serie B is going to go right down to the wire before both promotion and relegation issues are settled, so strap yourselves in and follow all the twists and turns right here, in what promises to be an eventful and intriguing campaign in Italy’s second tier.

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