Spezia are set for their third consecutive campaign in Serie A after a respectable 16th place finish last term. However, Luca Gotti replaced Thiago Motta at the bench in what was the first of many changes risky changes, according to Vilizar Yakimov.
Despite being among the favourites to get relegated last term, Spezia avoided the drop for a second year in a row, as the Ligurians now prepare for their third straight season in Italy’s top flight.
Yet, Spezia decided to part ways with Thiago Motta, who left in June and Luca Gotti, who had just had a positive season at Udinese, took over. Bizarrely, one of Gotti’s first actions was to take away the captain’s armband form Giulio Maggiore, who now seems set to leave the club after six seasons in Liguria.
This was a clear sign of the changing times. Gotti picked Emmanuel Gyasi as the team’s new captain, despite reports that last season the Ghanaian had physical confrontations with Maggiore, creating a locker-room crisis before a ball was kicked.
As if that wasn’t enough, Ivan Provedel, who played a huge role between the sticks for last term, seems set to leave, with Napoli’s Alex Meret being tipped as potential replacement. However, Meret’s arrival is far from certain yet, which means that Spezia might lose another key player without a replacement.
Rej Manaj, who netted five times last term was another important figure that left Liguria, after his loan from Barcelona expired. Daniel Maldini came from Milan as a replacement and while Paolo’s son has the potential, he is yet to feature regularly in Serie A. Albin Ekdal has been Spezia’s second notable signing so far, but at 32 it’s hard to expect wonders from the Swedish midfielder.
It’s clear that Spezia will be different next term and while Gotti is a good coach, he made a risky move by letting go of Maggiore and trusting the at-times brilliant, but undisciplined Gyasi as captain of his side. The goal remains the same – achieving safety, but if Spezia don’t bring more quality players, they will be in the middle of another relegation battle that might not end so well this time.
Key man: Emmanuel Gyasi
The 28-year-old (pictured above), who scored six goals last season, is expected to be Spezia’s new captain and while his technical quality can’t be put into doubt, there are some question marks over his ability to set an example and lead.
Gyasi failed to provide a single assist last term – a stat highlighting his, at times, self-centred style, and if the Ghanaian is about to lead his side to yet another salvation, he’ll need to be more of a team player.
Coach: Luca Gotti
After leading a fairly average Udinese side to a respectable 12th place, Luca Gotti has now taken the reins at Spezia in what promises to be a challenging season for both him and his new club.
Spezia had the second-worst defence in the league last season and it’s clear that Gotti will have to tighten things up at the back if Spezia are to avoid the drop again.
Unlike his predecessor Thiago Motta, Gotta doesn’t seem to care that much about keeping possession, as he became famous for the ultra-direct counter-attacking style that his Udinese side played.
Yet, unlike the Bianconeri, Spezia were unable to soak up pressure and wait for their chances on the break, so it’s obvious that either the mentality of the whole team has to change, or Gotti himself will have to adapt to the new environment.
Watch out for: Those counter-attacks
If Gotti manages to implement his playing style and ideas, Spezia has the potential to be devastating next term. An attacking trident of Kevin Agudelo, M’bala Nzola and Gyasi can be scary if allowed enough space, so that’s what the opposition should be looking out for.
It won’t be easy, as a defence as leaky as Spezia’s never helps, but if Gotti manages to repeat some of what he did in Udine, gli Aquilotti might do some real damage next term.