Varese’s remarkable rise to Serie B

Varese surprised everyone during last Serie B season by qualifying for the play-offs. Despite losing to Padova in the two-legged semifinal, this was nevertheless an outstanding result for a club that just six years ago was playing in Eccellenza. But can they repeat the feat?
The side that reached a remarkable fourth place was made up mostly of young players, without any famous names, and some of them have garnered the attention of other clubs. Giulio Ebagua, the club’s top scorer with 12 goals in the league, has signed for Torino, while captain Eros Pisano, a right back who earned himself the nickname “il veterano” despite being only 24-years-old, has joined Palermo. Even Wilfred Osuji, a midfielder on loan from Milan, has returned to his club.
More important, the Coach that took Varese from Serie C2 to Serie B with two consecutive promotions has now left. Giuseppe Sannino, having led the Lombardian club to their first season in the second tier since 1985, now has a deserved opportunity to coach a top flight side, Siena. Considered that sporting director Sean Sogliano, at the club since 2004, has moved on to Palermo, the feeling is that a cycle has ended.
The start of a new era has been marked with the appointment of Benito Carbone as Head Coach. Carbone has little experience as a first team Coach: after his retirement in 2010, he has been in charge of Pavia for just two months, during which time he led them out of the relegation zone in Lega Pro Prima Divisione. At the new club he will be able to go on working with forward Umberto Eusepi, who will return after six months on loan at Pavia, while other Pavia players have been linked with a move to Varese.
If the aim is to compete for a play-off spot, the club may encounter some difficulties, but Varese seems to have all the tools to establish itself in Serie B. Certainly there is still much to do; the stadium needs to undergo some renovation before the start of next season and the construction of a new training center for the youth teams is just starting.
But, as Sannino pointed out in his farewell letter to the town, the last three seasons have generated enthusiasm, flags have apperead at the windows and fans have started to go watching their team play; it is now common to see 5000 people at Stadio Franco Ossola, a remarkable achievement considered the previously low average attendance (1631 in 2009/2010).
More importantly, last season showed the strenght of Varese youth sector. The Primavera team, having beaten Fiorentina in an epic semifinal despite being down to eight men during the match, lost 3-2 to Roma in the Campionato Primavera final. If the clubs is willing to continue to focus its attention on youth, as the recent signing of center-back Gaetano Carrieri suggests, the promotion of its own youth system products to the first team may be a rewarding solution.

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