BLOG ITALIA
Monday November 7 2011
Sinking in the rain

A rain-soaked Week 11 proves a miserable affair for clubs now considering their Coaches’ futures. Rob Paton wraps up the action.

Despite Napoli-Juventus and Genoa-Inter being called off for safety reasons due to torrential rain and flooding that has hit Italy in the past few days, a rain-soaked Week 11 still provided plenty to talk about. It also looks to have heralded the end for more than one Serie A Coach.

Cagliari losing to Atalanta was a less-than-surprising result. Whilst with only one win from their last five going into the fixture, Atalanta were still unbeaten at home in Serie A this season, and more pertinently, unbeaten at home to Cagliari since the year President Massimo Cellino took over the Sardinian outfit in June 1992.

Indeed, the local Press described Bergamo’s Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia as one of Cagliari’s ‘cursed grounds’ in Serie A, reportedly sitting alongside only Fiorentina’s Artemio Franchi on the list of stadiums that the club have never won at during Cellino’s era.

Post-match though, the most likely reflection relating to Cellino’s era is if he chooses to make his 33rd managerial change as owner of the outfit. Whilst a close-run result this Sunday, the curse has not only continued for Cagliari, but significantly for birthday boy Massimo Ficcadenti it further raises scrutiny over the team’s aptitude in front of goal.

Atalanta took only 51 per cent possession in the first 45, but with it created three times as many attempts on goal. The second half saw Cagliari retrieve that statistical deficit to an extent, particularly through Daniele Conti’s snap-shot followed by Nene’s gilt-edged chance. However, even as Ficcadenti insisted that the reaction from his players instilled him with confidence to progress, the team are racking up a goalless run that has reportedly raised doubts over the Coach’s longevity in his role.

Interestingly, entering the November international break and almost exactly 12 months on from when Cellino sacked Pierpaolo Bisoli, Cagliari are edging towards a remarkably similar set of statistics to that unsuccessful time at the start of last season.

From the last seven games, the Rossoblu have failed to score in five – a run the team also went on under Bisoli – and from the last five games, the team have not scored from open play, a worse statistic than under Bisoli. Also worse under Ficcadenti is the team’s percentage of attempts on goal finding the target.

In Ficcadenti’s favour are a couple of major points, though. First, that Cagliari are two points and seven League positions better off after two games fewer than under Bisoli. Secondly is the fact that the forward options at his disposal are significantly weaker in comparison to Bisoli’s.

The lightweight nature of the squad’s scoring options was reportedly a major sticking point in the pre-season fall-out between Ficcadenti’s predecessor Roberto Donadoni and Cellino. At the moment, statistics tell the story of a team yet again solely reliant on Andrea Cossu to set up chances and with a set of strikers who, in some cases, are finding the target with less than a third of their attempts.

Ficcadenti was originally quoted on Sunday evening stating that he had discussed his future with Cellino in the preceding midweek and received the President’s backing, before that changed to a more uncertain answer as rumours began to circulate. Cagliari’s true issues may not stem from Ficcadenti’s actions, but the similarities with Bisoli’s poor run with the club could prove enough to see him replaced this fortnight.

We enter the November international break, seen as the last opportunity in the first half of the season for clubs to realistically make well-timed managerial shifts. The two-week break provides a greater opportunity to seek out the best candidate and present them with a good period of training before running a game.

As a result, Cagliari might not be the only club reportedly set to make changes, with Fiorentina another who despite backing their Coach ‘for the moment’, saw Sinisa Mihajlovic lose away to Chievo in a game that was previously suggested as a must-win. Luca Rigoni’s goal on Sunday means that the Viola have won just three games from 24 played on the road under Miha.

A Coach making his return to Serie A this weekend was Daniele Arrigoni. Deploying his favoured 4-4-2, the 52-year-old may not have gotten the result he felt his team deserved, but has returned an element of creativity to the front-line. An impressive 62 per cent possession was backed up with 21 corners and a massive 27 attempts at Lecce’s goal. The fact only six were on target goes a long way to explaining how the Giallorossi were able to steal the win, and where Cesena’s rustiness lies.

Perhaps the most interesting tactical choice of the weekend went to Vincenzo Montella at Catania for choosing to place attacking winger Davide Lanzafame in a defensive right wing-back position. Within the opening 10 minutes, the decision made out of necessity proved detrimental as he was caught the wrong side of Robinho running into the area. Bringing the Brazilian down for the subsequently-converted penalty, it ensured the beginning of a one-way affair at San Siro that saw the Rossoneri take third spot.

That is behind Udinese and Lazio who take joint top spot for the November break after respective close-fought home wins over Siena and Parma.

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