Season Review 2017/18
So I've come to the end of my second season at Parma, and it has been far better than expected. Here is the table at the end of the season:-
As you can see, we did brilliantly considering we were a newly promoted side, and even more so given the state of the squad (or lack of it) in June. We were comfortably top half and around 5th all season, and actually dropped off slightly once our Serie B status was confirmed.
The turning point was after we played Cosenza in April, we had a team meeting and after that we won our last 5 games and managed to finish 3rd, which meant we took part in the playoffs.
The Serie B playoffs are a strange thing. In the first leg, we played Livorno away and were awful in a 2-0 loss. We improved massively in the second leg and were 2-0 up early on but a sloppy goal let them back into it. I was wondering what might have been, when our Columbian midfield engine, Andres Tello, smashed one in from 25 yards. This took the game to extra time, and when extra time ended goalless and we didn't go to penalties, I assumed we were out. Despair turned to jubilation however, when I got back to the news screen and saw we had qualified for the final thanks to our higher league position! This set up a final against Benevento, who we had beaten on the final day.
Away from home, we bossed the game but again conceded a sloppy goal from Kamoko Cisse (more on him in a minute) and as time ticked on, we just couldn't find a breakthrough. In the 87th minute however, that man Tello surged forward and smashed one in from an angle so we headed back to the Tardini with only a win (or maybe a draw- who knows?) needed to seal a return to Serie A. This is what happened:-
Just ridiculous, part of me felt sorry for Cisse. It wasn't helped by losing 3 of my first 11 to a poorly timed international call-up, but some of the defending was just absurd.
As far as performances go, two of last seasons key players Cutrone and Diakhite were again very good and I have renewed their loans for another season. Cutrone finished with 26 goals in the end, but he was still very inconsistent with that total including two four goal hauls and two hattricks. The undisputed star of the show however, was Andres Tello. He joined in August on a free after being released by Juve, and was consistently good for me all season finishing with 7 goals, 9 assists and an average rating of 7.29. When he joined he had a £.5m release, but thankfully I have negotiated that one out now as his value has rocketed after the season he has had.
Another plus in the season was the breakthrough of our 17yo right back, Giacomo Cerone. He came through in the 2016/17 intake, and made his first start away at Pescara during our strong end to the season and was immediately an improvement. He will keep his place going into the new season, so it will be interesting to see how he deals with life in Serie A.
On a personal note I was approached by 6 struggling Serie A teams during the year, and was favourite for the Lazio job post season but Ive rejected all advances and signed a new deal with Parma. I have no plans at all to leave, but it is always nice to have a bit of interest.
Due to our poor finances and reliance on loan players, I am once again facing up to a busy summer as I currently have only 10 first team players, however a decent amount from TV rights should hopefully help me make a permanent signing or two. I haven't actually paid a fee yet, so it will be nice to break that trend.