Rooted to the foot of the Serie A table, Novara are in dire straits. With no win in six games and only two all season, at first glance it seems Attilio Tesser’s men face an almost impossible task to save themselves falling back from whence they came. What ails this minnow of Serie A however, may not be as cancerous as first though and survival may not be out of the question.
Following the winter break two disastrous results have seen Novara slip down to the bottom of the table. A 0-3 defeat to the inconsistent Florentines was coupled with a 3-1 defeat to fellow relegation candidates Cesena – Attilio Tesser could already hear the funeral bells before Wednesday’s 2-1 extra-time defeat to Milan in the Coppa Italia. On Monday morning Novara’s sporting director Mauro Pederzoli produced some bullish rhetoric in the Corriere di Novara indicating that Tesser was safe: “He’s never been up for discussion. It’s not part of our club culture to dismiss a Coach during a campaign.”
With the dreaded vote of confidence in hand Tesser can now continue to work with his squad in an effort to rectify what at first seems to be a mammoth task. The statistics do not lie, 10 defeats in 18 games with only two victories, none of which have come away from home the worst overall goal difference in the whole division whilst on top of this they have conceded the most goals. It certainly does not make for good bedtime reading unless Tesser wishes to wake up in a cold sweat.
Taking into account the last two games after the winter break there are signs that with some small tweaks to this team, or some small additional spending Novara may be able to bring themselves out of this nose-dive. The formations that Tesser adopted (4-4-2 at home to Fiorentina and 5-3-2 away at Cesena) are not the main problem in this case. Novara in both games did manage to have a lot of the possession, 47% against Fiorentina and a massive 57% against Cesena indicating that these games were much closer than the scores show. Certainly in the match against Fiorentina the home side pressed well and made the opposition look sluggish, whilst in the later game only bad luck saw Tesser’s men go into the break three goals down.
The main problem in both these games was how the wingers failed to get the balls into the box, the lack of quality was obvious and the midfield spent more time passing sideways hoping that somebody else would take responsibility and get the ball into the box. Former Genoa striker Andrea Caracciolo now in the Novara ranks, looking to regain the form he showed at Brescia, unfortunately it seems it is only Giuseppe Gemiti who can constantly produce quality balls into the right areas. The fact that the full-backs are having to charge forward to support the floundering wide-men, means they are then subject to the counter-attack, something which both Fiorentina and Cesena took full advantage of.
With a second clash in a week with Milan coming up, Tesser needs to address these problems and quickly – changing to a 5-3-2 seems to have been the right move although they still need to support the full-backs and stop going to narrow. Whether they can dabble in the market again in January is yet to be seen but if not the frustrating reality for Novara is that these minor changes that are needed could make the difference in the race for survival.