Getting the new Decade off to a Good Start - 2020/21 Season Preview
First things first, the minimum expectation is that we now stay in the division. No more battling against relegation, no chances, just survive. For the first time, the media think we'll do it as well with 17th being their prediction. The board backed me with £19m and an increased wage budget and I went shopping.
At this point, it's probably best to talk a little about our new tactical setup this season. That will, in turn, explain some of the transfers further.
Team Shape: Flexible
Team Instructions: Shorter Passing, Float Crosses, Use Tighter Marking
The defensive structure remains largely the same, certainly in terms of player roles. The fullbacks are required to support the attacking play and provide crosses from deep when the opportunity arises. The back five are protected by a CM-d which seems like the best option for defensive coverage outside the DM-strata. He's supported by an advanced playmaker whose job is to help with the transition from defence to attack. Although he's an advanced playmaker, I don't want him too far up the pitch, so he only has a support duty.
The front four will hopefully work as a cohesive unit. The idea is to get the ball into the feet of a targetman and have the attacking triumvirate in the AM-strata playing off of him, hence all three having an attacking duty. In essence, I want the TM dropping deeper and that trio going beyond him. before he arrives in the box later on.
That's the theory anyway. Roles are subject to change after the tactic has bedded in properly.
Early signs are good. I won't bore you with pre-season, but it was a success. Undefeated and we're scoring goals too(!) 15 in total across the five games, excluding five more in the first round of the cup - incidentally, our first win in the competition, which is a bit mental.
Going out this summer went the old guard. Old being the appropriate word. Russotto (32), Rolin (31), Scozzarella (32), Bianco (33) and Musacci (33) all left for pastures new. Vicenza also paid me £750k for Simone Palombi. 3 goals in 40+ Serie A games tells me he isn't cut out for this level and, at 5'8", didn't suit my new tactical setup in the slightest. Collectively, they brought in about £1m.
So who came in? We'll start from back to front.
Antonio Donnarumma (not the Milan kid!) has done well in goal for me over the past couple of years, but he didn't have much competition in Gallinetti. With that in mind, I paid £750k to relegated Carpi for Raffaele Di Gennaro. He's a good, solid-across-the-board option and probably marginally better than Donnarumma.
As previously mentioned, the defence was never a real issue for me, but what we did lack was a) depth and b) a leader. Matteo Bianchetti (£2m from Empoli) and Serdar Aziz (£3.2m from Bursaspor) solve both those issues for a shade over five million quid.
After Kapustka's injury last year, and the uncertainty over his future (Leverkusen were sniffing around), I decided to pay Nice £1.8m for Franco Signorelli. A perfect budget option for the AP role in my tactic for a bargain price. Composure, passing and vision immediately stood out. Also didn't need to learn the language after spending most of his career at Empoli.
Our front four will be the reason we win games this season, but Castellano can't do it all on his own. I wired £3m to Porto for the services of Juan Fernando Quintero. Technically superb with three useful PPM's, he should be a real asset this season. Also joining the new-look Catania is former Brescia man, Marco Frediani. At £4m he was my most expensive signing this summer, but has obvious qualities and Serie A experience, which could be invaluable this season.
Up top we welcome Deyverson (£2.5m from Groningen) and Diego Falcinelli (£750k from Cesena). Both big, strong, powerful players with a decent first touch and good finishing abilities.
Total Spent: £18m
The remit this summer was experience, evidenced by my signings having an average age of 27.75. The squad has a good feel about it at the moment. Determined, with a few standout leaders in there, but retaining that youthful exuberance in the form of Castellano (22), Joveljic (21), Bielik (22) and Kapustka (23).
The Season Ahead
I'd like to see some real progress this season. I don't want miracles - finishing between 12th and 16th will be seen as a success - but I want to see forward steps on the pitch. More games need to be dominated and more goals need to be scored. I can take the losses, but not the completely abject performance seen last season.
Away from the pitch, the youth and training upgrades will be completed in late October which is obviously progression.
The chairman's status is also listed as "happy to stay", but has been like that for at least 12 months, so it remains to be seen when (if!) a takeover happens.