Cagliari fire Maran and appoint Zenga

After 11 winless round, Cagliari’s management took for the usual route to try to stop the bleeding, a coaching change, as they axed coach Rolando Maran, despite the incredible start that had put them in contention for a Europa League in the first half of the season, and hired Walter Zenga. The Sardinians have now slipped to the 11th position, seven points away the 6-th placed Napoli, ten above the relegation zone.

After staying undefeated for 13 consecutive rounds from mid-September to early-December, racking up eight wins, the Rossoblù lost to Lazio, Udinese, Juventus, Milan, Genoa, Napoli and Roma and collected few ties. Even if they clawed back multiple times versus the Giallorossi, that was the final straw for Maran’s tenure, who finished 15th last season.

Zenga penned a contract till June 2021 and will have Primavera coach Max Canzi, who was initially rumoured to be getting the job, as his lead assistant. The former Inter goalie has had a very articulated coaching career, with multiple stops abroad, especially in Romania and in the UAE. He took over Venezia in Serie B for a good chunk of the 2018/2019 season and was last seen in the top league two years ago, where he helmed Crotone from December on, getting relegated after recording six wins, five draws and 12 losses. In Italy, he previously managed Catania and Palermo. He won two titles, with Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade.

Zenga’s preferred scheme is 4-3-3, although he might have troubles devising it with the current roster since it is not very versatile and lacks wingers. Newcomer Gaston Pereiro and rarely used Valter Birsa are the only ones with familiarity in that role, Joao Pedro too, but he has been extremely efficient as central striker. Maran utilized either a diamond formation, with Radja Nainggolan in the hole, or 3-5-2, adapting Paolo Faragò or Fabrizio Cacciatore to centre-back and Nahitan Nandez to right-wing back as they are pretty short on defenders too, given Luca Ceppitelli’s recurrent foot issues.

Regardless of the scheme, the new gaffer is set to bring a more offensive-minded brand of football. Maran’s conservative style had stopped yielding results, given the fact that they had conceded in 14 matches in a row and a total of 41 times in the season.

Pedro, who has scored 16 times so far, has been pretty much their lone bright spot fantasy-wise, considering that Radja Nainggolan has fallen into a slump and Giovanni Simeone has had a subpar production for a striker. Pereiro found the target on his third appearance and he is likely to take on a significant role. More proactivity should benefit also their dynamic midfielders Nandez and Marko Rog.

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