Salernitana 2022-23 preview: Granata need another miracle

Salernitana somehow survived the drop, as the Granata now prepare for their fourth season in Serie A. All credit should go to Davide Nicola but Vilizar Yakimov worries that the 49-year-old tactician might not be able to repeat his heroics next term.

When Davide Nicola took over Salernitana back in February, the Granata already seemed doomed to relegation right after their return to Serie A. The Campanians had lost 16 of their 21 games to that point, had registered only three wins and lacked any kind of game plan or self-belief that they could change their destiny.

Nicola changed all that and with a bit of luck Salernitana rewrote history, thanks to a huge Cagliari blunder in the final round. The Sardinians failed to beat the already-relegated Venezia, thus going to Serie B and ensuring Salernitana stayed up, becoming the team with the lowest points tally to do so.

While Salernitana finally showed signs of being capable of competing in Serie A towards the end of the campaign, it’s hard to see any significant improvement in the side coming into next season.

Matteo Lovato was brought in on a permanent basis from Atalanta and can definitely help at the back, while left-back Domagoj Brdaric also came in from Lille. Luigi Sepe, Federico Bonazzoli, Emil Bohinen, Mamadou Coulibaly, Mikael, Grigoris Kastanos and Pawel Jaroszynski were brought back after their initial loan spells expired and while this was necessary, it didn’t leave much room for new arrivals.

Not only that, but star midfielder Ederson was sold to Atalanta, while veterans Milan Djuric and Stefan Standberg also departed, leaving some big question marks in attack and up front.

It seems that Nicola is set to trust Simy, who returns after an unsuccessful loan spell at Parma, and Bonazzoli, who now seems ready to become a regular. Frank Ribery will definitely be in the mix as well, but the legendary Frenchman turned 39 earlier this year and failed to provide a significant impact on the field last term.

All this points to a very tough campaign ahead for the Granata, who are almost certain to be in the midst of the relegation battle once again. Nicola is a miracle-maker and worked his magic last term, but he’s never done that for two seasons in a row and it seems unfair from the club to expect him to do so.

Key man: Federico Bonazzoli

The 25-year-old, above, was his side’s top scorer with 10 goals last term and Salernitana clearly hope that he’ll be able to build on that number this time out. It’s obvious that Bonazzoli will be a key figure for Nicola’s side next season and the player seems ready for the challenge.

Coach: Davide Nicola

It’s hard to find anyone better at guiding a side towards salvation, as Davide Nicola has now done this with Crotone, Torino and Salernitana in a space of just a few years. His achievement with the Granata from last year was arguably even more impressive than his heroics at Crotone back in 2018.

However, Nicola has never managed to stay at a club for two full seasons in a row, as he seems to have issues with developing his side’s game and this is the biggest concern coming into the new season once again. It’s also fair to say that the club hasn’t done him any favours in terms of summer additions, as Salernitana have brought in only a few new faces.

Watch out for: The first 10 rounds

If Nicola is about to break his second-season hodoo, he’ll need a strong start, as that’s where he failed in the past. Salernitana won only two of their first 18 games last season and put themselves into deep trouble from the very beginning and this is something that can’t be allowed to happen again.

If the Granata start strongly and manage to stay above the danger zone for a few weeks, their chances of avoiding relegation would increase immensely, so watch out for their performances in the first 10 rounds or so.

Get the full 2022-23 Serie A season preview here.

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