Ever since the day they inflicted defeat on Milan by deploying a bold formation, Cesena have been the small team to watch. Led last season by the tactically astute Coach, Massimo Ficcadenti, they were one of the few who showed courage and relied on width in a league obsessed with narrow play. Ultimately, they lacked both the players and the consistency to pull off anything too spectacular but whilst survival was their sole objective last season, the club has big plans for the future as they embark upon a carefully thought out project bound to produce results in the future.
Starting with the squad, Cesena identified the problems from last season. Having witnessed a squad bereft of creativity and reliant on its front three players, this summer has seen them focus their efforts on injecting inspiration into their midfield. Securing once-upon-a-time Azzurri player Antonio Candreva on loan, Cesena have identified the first cog within the system. Versatile, blessed with a great vision and a good passer of the ball, Candreva represents a coup for the club who are likely to lose Marco Parolo to a bigger team.
Moreover, their interest in the likes of Manuel Giandonato, the Juventus gem widely regarded as one of the greatest creative talents to emerge in midfield only serves to signal their intent. However, it is their purchases in attack that have garnered the most amount of praise. Securing the high profile signing of Adrian Mutu, who is not only a footballing talent but also a merchandising treasure, they have further bolstered their front line by nabbing Eder Citadin Martins – a Brazilian renowned for his creativity, excellent shooting and his willingness to track back.
Putting market matters aside, Cesena boast a President who was strong enough to stand by Ficcadenti last season despite pressure from the fans to sack the Coach and a man whose wife readily acknowledges is married only to the club. Asked what happens to her husband when Cesena lose, she looks up and softly sighs: “He loses his smile all week” before she proceeds to tell tales of sleepless nights and endless phone calls.
Keen to keep improving, President Igor Campedelli recently announced the club’s decision to opt for a synthetic pitch, costing them just under €1m. Expected to be ready by September, the pitch will guarantee better playing conditions and a ground able to survive regular training and adverse weather conditions. With plans to play quality football focused on quick passes, this pitch is not only a big step forward for Cesena but Italian football in general.
An artificial pitch is just the beginning as on Monday the club announced that they have been given the all clear to modernise the current stadium. This will include installing big screens and improving the fans view of the pitch in hopes of recreating a stadium similar to that of an English club. This is all part of the team’s strategy to attract more fans to the stadium. Targeting families including the elderly, women and children by offering promotions, Campedelli is hoping to create a family atmosphere to attract a greater fan base, raise more funds and drive the club forward in order to cement their place in the top flight.
The only bewildering aspect of Cesena’s project going forward is their choice for a Coach. Having mutually agreed to part ways with the entertaining Ficcadenti, his replacement Marco Giampaolo represents an underwhelming appointment for some who associate him with negative tactics and primarily defensive football. However, what he lacks in entertainment he more than makes up for with passion as the Coach has already insisted on a closer rapport with the youth team – a team that has seen heavy investment from the club.
Having already unveiled a new look management team in charge of the youth sector, Cesena are determined to create a profitable model for others to admire as they take another step forward on the path to success.