P20th W3 D11 L24 GF39 GA83 Pts20
Coppa Italia: Round of 16 Team rating: 3/10 Top scorer: Hernani/Juraj Kucka (7) Europe: N/A
Parma finished in the comfortable 11th place last term, but key departures and the decision to part ways with Roberto D’Aversa are the main reason the Ducali will ply their trade in Serie B next year, according to Vilizar Yakimov.
Ducali hit rock bottom
What were Parma thinking when they replaced Roberto D’Aversa with the recently relegated Fabio Liverani at the start of the season?
Indeed the decision to replace D’Aversa, who had guided the club from the ashes of Serie C to the brink of a top 10 finish in Serie A in just a few years, raised some eyebrows early on. After all, Liverani had just failed to achieve safety with Lecce and had conceded 85 goals during his first full season in Italy’s top flight as a coach. To make things even worse, key figures such as Matteo Darmian and Dejan Kulusevski were never properly replaced. Parma had to once again count on veterans Juraj Kucka and Gervinho to make the difference. In all honesty, sporadically, they did just that, but it was evident from the beginning that the team needed more to avoid the drop this term.
Liverani was supposed to bring a new attacking identity to mark the era of Kyle Krause, who had just taken over the club. However, there were absolutely no signs of that, as the team looked clueless from the start and had already lost the solidity and pragmatism that were established during D’Aversa’s reign.
After only two victories in 16 Serie A games, which saw main strikers Andreas Cornelius and Roberto Inglese score a combined of zero goals, Liverani was finally sacked in January after a 3-0 defeat against Atalanta. Roberto D’Aversa returned to try and save the campaign, but it was already a little too late.
Despite some improvements and a busy January transfer window, which saw Mattia Bani, Dennis Man, Andrea Conti, Joshua Zirkzee and former Azzurri striker Graziano Pelle all join the fort, Parma were still unable to win games. D’Aversa was outclassed by 2-0 in his first game after returning against Lazio, but a 93-minute equaliser that was conceded in the following 1-1 draw against Sassuolo was a tougher pill to swallow. Four consecutive defeats followed, but even those weren’t as disappointing as the two consecutive draws that saw Parma waste two-goal leads to draw 2-2 against both Udinese and Spezia.
At that point, it was obvious that avoiding the drop would be almost impossible, as there were just too many problems to be solved. The January arrivals never really blended in. Valentin Mihaila’s exploits weren’t enough in attack, while the defence was leaking goals out of nothing. Even the ever-reliable Luigi Sepe was making error after error. Unfortunately for the fans, D’Aversa didn’t manage to find a solution, as Parma conceded late goals to throw away leads against Fiorentna, Genoa, Cagliari and Crotone.
Inevitably, this resulted in a disastrous campaign that saw Parma finish bottom of the Serie A table with only 20 points, the joint-worst attack (39) and the second-worst defence (83).
Sadly, this contradicts the ambition and enthusiasm that the Krause Group brought in when they purchased the club in September, as well as with the plans for the new Stadio Tardini project that the club presented in April. However, a series of poor decisions, starting with the sacking of D’Aversa, mean the club and the new owners will have to redeem themselves starting from scratch in Serie B next season.
The coach – Fabio Liverani/Roberto D’Aversa
When Fabio Liverani was brought in, he was announced as someone who might not get results straight away, but he would build an exciting team to watch. The truth is the ex-Lecce coach failed to deliver on both ends, as Parma looked disoriented and confused ever since he took over, while the results never really came. It was really hard for D’Aversa to pick up the pieces after this, as the mental and physical condition of most players was well below the required level. To make matters even worse – injuries, COVID and poor planning of the season made an arduous task nearly impossible.
Player of the Year – Juraj Kucka
If there is one player who can walk with his head held high after such a disastrous season, it must be the Slovakian. Regardless of whether it was from midfield, the wing or even from up top, Kucka was always the first to put his body and soul into the game. Many players in this squad shouled have learned from this. Parma strikers underperformed heavily, so in many games ,the 34-year-old was the main threat for the opposition. It isn’t surprising at all to see Kuco end the campaign as the team’s joint-top goalscorer.
Defining moment – Leads thrown away
Back in February, the Ducali were still in the race to gain survival. However, they showed their fragility in two specific games against Udinese and Spezia. In both matches, they threw away a two-goal lead, picking up only two points combined. History repeated itself in March when a late Valentin Mihaila goal gave Parma the lead against Fiorentina. However, Simone Iacoponi’s own goal in the stoppages resulted into another draw for Roberto D’Aversa side. That was the end of their already tiny chances to avoid relegation.
Did you know?
This is the second time Parma have finished bottom of the Serie A since 1990. The first time was in 2014-15 with Roberto Donadoni in the dug-out. The club went bankrupt in the summer and played the following season in Serie D.