P: 19th (W6 D5 L27 GF45 GA92 Pts23)
Coppa Italia: Third round Team rating: 4/10 Top scorer: Nwankwo Simy (20) Europe: N/A
Crotone were relegated with the worst defensive record in the history of Serie A, but Nwankwo Simy showed glimpses of quality during the campaign, writes Lorenzo Bettoni.
The Squali had been tipped to return to Serie B one year after being promoted to Serie A and their relegation to Italy’s second division came as no surprise. Their most expensive summer signing was Luis Rojas, who arrived from Club Universidad de Chile. Crotone spent €2.4m to secure his services, but the 18-year-old played just 90 minutes in the campaign.
This is not to say they would have survived if the Chilean was given more playing time. However, better use of their transfer budget may have helped the Rossoblu to at least be competitive enough to fight for survival.
Crotone only won their first game of the season in December, when they trashed Spezia 4-1 at the Ezio Scida. They had managed just two points in the previous 10 matches and after that win, they picked up a draw away at Udinese in the following game, beating Parma 2-1 at home before the Christmas break.
Things started to look good, but after that, they only managed three more points in 10 games. Coach Giovanni Stroppa, who had led them to Serie A, was sacked at the beginning of March with his side sitting rock bottom.
Serse Cosmi replaced Stroppa, returning to Serie A for the first time in 10 years. Although Crotone managed 10 points in 13 games with the former Perugia coach in the dug-out, his appointment was not the turning point of the season.
However, Nwankwo Simy benefitted from working under Cosmi. The striker had netted seven goals before Cosmi came in and scored 13 in just as many games after the new coach arrived.
It was another unlikely record for the Serie A strugglers, who become the team with the worst defensive record in the history of Serie A. Simy’s goals meant that, at the same time, no club in Italy had ever been relegated to Serie B with such a prolific striker in their team.
While the Nigeria international will be looking to staying in Serie A in 2021-22, Cosmi may decide to remain at the Ezio Scida for one more season.
It wasn’t a campaign to remember for the Sharks, but the outcome really didn’t take anybody by surprise. However, it must be noted how the Serie A strugglers always put in the total commitment, even when relegation was a sure thing, something you don’t witness all the time in Serie A. A late Simy equaliser in their 1-1 stalemate against Benevento in May was testament to that.
The Coaches – Giovanni Stroppa/Serse Cosmi
Former Milan midfielder Stroppa had gained Serie A promotion in 2019-20 and was deservedly confirmed at the helm for 2020-21. Although he held Juventus to a 1-1 draw in October, Crotone only won their first game of the season in December and managed just 12 points in 24 games during his reign. Cosmi achieved better results, with 10 points in 13 games and got the best out of Simy, but it was too late to save the season.
Player of the Year – Nwankwo Simy
Who else? The Nigerian striker scored 20 goals in 38 Serie A games this season, but somehow that was not enough, even to compete for safety, let alone to achieve it. Simy has been linked with a move elsewhere and there’ll be plenty of Serie A teams happy to take a chance on the 29-year-old being more than a one-season wonder.
Defining moment – Defensive disaster
More of a recurring series of moments than one but Crotone’s season was doomed by their leaky defence. They conceded 92 goals in 38 games and managed just three clean sheets, against Udinese, Torino and Fiorentina.
Did you know?
The 92 goals Crotone conceded was one more than Casale conceded in 1933-34, setting a new Serie A record for goals against in a single season.