Genoa sack Ballardini and bring back Juric

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In a rather surprising news on Tuesday, Genoa have announced the dismissal of coach Davide Ballardini and the return of Milan Juric. The Grifone have currently four wins and three losses and are in 12th position in the standings, but president Enrico Preziosi had voiced his displeasure with the direction of the team after the bad home loss against Parma in the weekend. In particular, he was reportedly unconvinced of the manager’s defensive plans, since they have already conceded 14 points.

Ballardini was appointed last November, replacing Juric, and led them to a serene season, where they finished in 12th position, 16 points above the relegation line. Continue reading

Genoa bring back Domenico Criscito

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After abundant rumours, Genoa have completed their first signing of the summer: Domenico Criscito will return on a free transfer from Zenit. The 31-year-old defender leaves Russia after six years and 155 games with the Saint Petersburg club, where he won the Russian league twice.

Criscito has reportedly inked a contract that will keep him in Liguria also as an executive when he will decide to retire. In the past, he had three different stints with the Rossoblù, two of which on loan from Juventus in Serie B before the most notable one from 2008 to 2011, where he recorded 153 appearances.  Continue reading

Two crucial games ahead for three winless coaches

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After four games, there are still five teams that have yet to win a game: Benevento, Hellas Verona, Crotone, Sassuolo and Genoa. While the first three were expected to tough time and to be involved in the relegation race this season, the other two are a bit more surprising, but not shocking. Serie A presidents are famous for their quick trigger when it comes to sacking their coaches, so these situations need immediate turnarounds. The midweek match day could accelerates the process.

Benevento is the most desperate team as it is at the bottom of the table with no points. They fought against Sampdoria, Bologna and Torino, but they were defeated by a single goal in all three fixtures. On Sunday, they were dismantled by Napoli. Marco Baroni did a brilliant job last season, but he is a rookie in the top league and the rumours about replacing him with a more seasoned coach, such as Stefano Colantuono or Davide Ballardini, are ramping up. They will face Roma today and Crotone on Sunday, which will likely decide the fate of the manager. He will have to work some magic because some of his best players, such as Amato Ciciretti, Marco D’Alessandro and Andrea Costa are sidelined by injuries.

Despite having one point, Hellas Verona is the squad that has looked the worst so far: they have drawn against Crotone, but they were badly beaten by Napoli, Fiorentina and Hellas Verona. The schedule has not helped, but their defence has looked too vulnerable and their playing style is still undefined. Furthermore, Fabio Pecchia has engaged in a pointless skirmish with Giampaolo Pazzini and has constantly picked some players with no experience as false-nine over his leading scorer last season. Injuries have hit them hard as well, depriving them of Alessio Cerci and of a lot of depth. Despite the promotion, they were never too convincing last season in Serie B. They will square off against Sampdoria on Wednesday and Lazio on Sunday.

The closer to getting the axe appears to be Ivan Juric. He was confirmed this summer despite a tumultous season, where he was fired and then called back, but his stint could be short-lived. They had decent outings against Sassuolo, Juventus, Udinese and Lazio, but only a point to show for it. According to the rumblings, Genoa president Enrico Preziosi has already contacted Walter Mazzarri and a name of this magnitude does not help Juric’s chances of holding onto the job. They will face Chievo Verona on Wednesday and Inter on Sunday and he has to hope that the wonderkid Pietro Pellegri continues to score and that the defence tightens up.

The remaining two winless teams are Sassuolo and Crotone. Cristian Bucchi has just switched his tactic to a 3-5-2 but they were defeated by Atalanta and Juventus. They performed well against Nerazzurri, while the Old Lady is on another level. In this case, the management will likely be more patient, as they have been in the first season in Serie A with Eusebio Di Francesco. However, he needs to come up with points in the next two games, against Cagliari and Bologna. Davide Nicola will have some more leeway as well at Crotone after last year’s miraculous comeback to avoid relegation. The Sharks are still scoreless and will take on Atalanta in the midweek match and Benevento in the weekend.

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Palermo set for long season after opening round loss

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Incident is never far from the Stadio Renzo Barbera. Palermo are magnets for it, specifically President Maurizio Zamparini.

The fiery patron is known for his short fuse and has well and truly earned his reputation as a Manager Eater. That came to a head last season as Palermo went through nearly as many coaching reigns – nine – as they did victories – 10. That they survived the drop was remarkable in itself.

But a squad which in the summer lost its best player Franco Vazquez, as well as the experience of Alberto Gilardino and Stefano Sorrentino, is set to struggle to stay afloat for another season.

Speaking before the season opener at home against Sassuolo, coach Davide Ballardini acknowledged they are predicted to be among the relegation candidates – “We want to prove that we belong in Serie A, even if some expect us to be in the bottom three” – but insisted the squad is united.

That’s more than can be said for the tactician and his boss. Zamparini scoffed at Ballardini’s public assertion the squad needed reinforcements. Notably, Ballardini was after an experienced goalkeeper, with first choice Josip Posavec only 20-years-old. His deputies are 21 and 18 respectively.

“We brought in Rajkovic, Gazzi, Aleesami, Nestorovski, Sallai: three youngsters like Embalo, Bentivegna and Lo Faso. I want to see trust and enthusiasm, not requests.” Zamparini continued: “Ballardini needs to learn to shut up and let the pitch do the talking, seeing as he’s a fine coach.” Norwegian international Aleesami looks the best of the new purchases, but question marks remain over the squad in general.

It’s not exactly an ideal way to approach the season, especially seeing as Ballardini was fired and re-hired last term and Zamparini is known to let coaches go even after one defeat.

Sunday night did not help. In hoping to steer clear of the relegation mire this season, Palermo started in poor fashion as they went down to a Domenico Berardi penalty. Sassuolo dominated the match to leave Sicily with a 1-0 result. Ballardini was disappointed with the result, but not the commitment shown by his players.

History suggests that won’t be enough to curb Zamparini’s insatiable fury. Will it be a season of toil for Palermo?  If they continue down the path with this squad in tow, Serie B looks on the horizon.