Following on from the introduction to the save, it was time I got settled into the job, reviewed the squad, and started to shape it the way I saw fit. From the off, I decided that six of our first team were not good enough to be around the club, and I shipped them off for a combined £559,000; not precisely a great abundance of cash to re-invest, but certainly deadwood off the wage bill.
Leonardo Mancuso already joined the club on loan from Monza, and whilst the striker is capable enough of doing a job at this level, I could not justify paying all of his £45K a week wages. Mancuso was quickly shipped back to Monza before shifting my focus onto players to improve the side.
Six players were out through the door, and four were in through the door. I felt that we were well covered in defence, but bringing in an option that could go forwards as well as cover at left-back was sensible. An option at the heart of defence was also key I felt, as we did lose two central defenders. Daniele Donnarumma joins from Cittadella for £400K & youngster Alessandro Macchioni joins from Pro Vercelli for £195K; the intake from the sale of six had gone straight back into the defence, and I felt both players would certainly add value to the squad.
In the goalkeeping department, I felt comfortable with Simone Ghidotti as a backup, and when Alessandro Russo was made available for a loan from Sassuolo, I felt as though I couldn’t say no. With the potential to loan him again for the following season, I wanted to keep my options open and felt he was certainly an upgrade on the goalkeeping situation.
At the business end of the park, Swiss attacking midfielder Giotto Morandi joins on a season-long loan deal from Zurich Grasshoppers and gives a further alternative to an ageing Cesc Fàbregas. The arrival of the Swiss playmaker concluded our transfer dealings for the time being, and the full focus shifted to the competitive games; Bologna was first up in the first round of the Italian Cup.
Five games and only two victories from these games; neither of them was convincing to rub salt into the wounds.
The battering we received from Benevento proved that we have a lot to learn at this level in the Italian football pyramid, but I could only hope that we could brush ourselves down and go again.
It looked as though we were going to bounce back in our next game against Südtirol, but the inability to kill off games meant that the game was cagey, when in reality it shouldn’t have been a cagey affair.
That killer instinct followed us into a disappointing defeat against Perugia, a team that was not at all better than us on the day. Our inabilities let the hosts off lightly as we only recorded a single shot on target from nine, and in typical football fashion, they were clinical just once in their very few chances.
Unfortunately for us, the month of September was a frustrating month for the club as a whole. Conceding in the 94th minute at home to Ternana, consigning us to defeat in a game we should have won. A poor showing away to Citadella despite beating them comfortably in pre-season looked to have knocked our confidence slightly, but the boys responded tremendously well with a massive 2-1 victory against Parma.
It was that type of victory and performance that I wanted to carry on in the domestic campaign, proving that, on our day, we are capable of competing with the bigger clubs in this division.
Our frustrating start to the season followed into the month of October, where we failed to record a single win.
An 81st-minute winner from Marco Mancosu ruined our trip away to Cagliari and was then followed up with a derby game that we dominated but failed to convert any clear-cut chances; not that they were in abundance either!
A disappointing final 10 minutes collapse in Palermo meant we walked away empty-handed from that game, and when points are king, we were looking likely to be dragged into a relegation dogfight. Just days later, a horrific attacking performance at home to Venezia saw us fail to hit the target with any of our 10 shots, and Russo was the hero on the day denying Venezia time and time again – Venezia finished with an xG of 2.23.
After a bit of shouty-shouty to the players following the attacking display in front of our fans, we travelled to the south of Italy to square off with Bari, and whilst we avoided defeat, I certainly felt it was 2 points dropped as the hosts were reduced to 10 men and we could not find that all-important winner.
As the World Cup looms over domestic football, I knew that it was going to be massive to build up a bit of form going into the busy period, but it was going to be difficult playing against Frosinone and Genoa. Two big clubs in the division, I just wanted to try and hold our own out for as long as possible, and see what was possible.
Firstly, an unconvincing performance against Cosenza saw us snatch all three points, ending a run of 5 games without a win and bringing much-needed confidence back into the side. That was then soon followed up with a massive away victory against Reggina, and we put in a performance that was much like our earlier selves where chances were being carved up. 2 wins on the trot, a bit of confidence before travelling to Frosinone, but that confidence disapparated as quickly as it was found – an 86th-minute winner for the hosts snatched a point from our jaws, and it was a sore one to take after a dominating display.
We then had to host league leaders Genoa, and despite a promising start to the game and taking the league, we couldn’t withstand the pressure from the ex-Serie A side and we began to cave. We fought for a way back into the game late into the second half, but Genoa picked us off with ease, making the scoreline seem more emphatic than it probably was.
December – the time to be festive and jolly. Well, we were certainly feeling jolly giving away points throughout the month, as we fell short away to Pisa – conceding two in five minutes – before struggling to make any inroads on relegation candidates Ascoli and home. Four points dropped in a matter of three days, it was not good form going into the penultimate game of 2022 before the winter break.
SPAL, unfortunately, proved to be too strong for us as we ended the first half of the season. We huffed and puffed in the second half after falling 3-1 behind, but we couldn’t carve their defence open to get ourselves back into the game.
The leaky defence was worrying me, as it was certainly the culprit of having us so far down the table. But with January now around the corner, it was time to reinvest back into the team and see what improvements could be made.
Three arrivals into the club in January view to certainly bolster our defensive capabilities, and the other to give further depth in an attacking sense.
Former Reading youth Mbengue joins for free and is capable to play in the heart of defence or in front as a holding midfielder. With age on his side, the Senegalese prospect will certainly be looking to lay down a marker after the summer and prove Reading was wrong to let him go.
On reviewing the squad as a whole, Ante Ćorić seems a bit of a strange signing given the number of playmakers at the club already. However, when allowedortunity to sign such a talent for as little as £80,000 – you cannot refuse that deal. Capable of playing wide or through the middle, it is yet another option and a brilliant financial deal for the club as a whole.
And finally, the potential piece to solve the puzzle. Brazilian Ruan joins for a fee of £1.5 million from Sassuolo. The 6 foot 2 centre half will certainly offer plenty of recovery sprints towards our own goal, whilst being a physical presence on the ground and in the air.
With the buzz of new arrivals coming into the club, and December being a small success, the good times continued at Como with an unbeaten month in January. The double over rivals Brescia was sweet, and exacting revenge on Benevento for the humiliation back in August was just as sweet.
Südtirol still proved to be a tough nut to crack but the late goals from Cerri and Cutrone were enough to hold them off and take the three points back to Como.
9 from 9 was a resounding success, it was now up to us to keep this form going.
However, it wasn’t to be as all momentum was lost once again. A frustrating attacking performance saw us limp going forward, whilst Perugia recorded a 0.94 xG and sneaked the win – not a game for the neutral by any stretch of the imagination, but we had to move on and dust ourselves down.
We were out for revenge away to Ternana following the late defeat to the side back in September, but another poor performance from the side going forward saw us under pressure for large spells of the game and we couldn’t see out the result; a theme that was the story of our season.
To rub salt further into the wounds, Citadella hit us for two in as many minutes to really make us feel great about ourselves, before Parma surged to a 3-goal advantage inside the first 34 minutes, making any comeback seem near impossible.
A poor month in the grand scheme of things, and certainly a month that hampered any aspirations we had for a surging second half of the campaign.
March was by all means an improvement on the previous month, but there were missed opportunities in the shape of the Cagliari loss and the snooze draw with Palermo.
After conceding three minutes into the game at home to Cagliari, I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. Going two behind on the hour mark was far from ideal, but after grabbing one back with twenty left to play, anything was possible. Unless your season is anything like ours where, yup you guessed it, we struggled to create more chances after scoring the goal.
A lovely derby win following the reverse draw was the highlight of March, especially leaving it so late into the game to ensure 3 points were going home with us. Ćorić certainly made himself feel at home with a brace on the day, and that result saw us put a bit of a gap between ourselves and the relegation places.
The battle of Como rounded off March, quite literally as the game was littered with yellow cards for both sides. Possibly the main reason behind no attacking quality being brought to the table, but I felt we were certainly the better team throughout the game.
April. The busiest month of our season, and most certainly our biggest. Pushing for the promotion play-offs was a bit beyond ourselves due to the poor form we suffered over the season, but building momentum for the following season was crucial here. We started the monthly brightly with a massive victory in Venice before a real Jekyll and Hyde performance at home to Bari left us scratching our heads as to how we lost that game; we were two down inside the first ten minutes, so to go 3-2 up on the stroke of half-time I thought we had done enough to kick on and put the game beyond our visitors.
Reggina then felt the wrath of our disappointment as Cutrone decided to pick violence on the day with his second hat trick on the bounce, before a double-barrel disappointment in games against Genoa and Pisa. I couldn’t have been too upset with the game against Genoa, given that they went on to win the title, but I felt we had massive chances to take something from the game. In the match against Pisa however, we could have been there for another 24 hours and still struggle to score – a bad day at the office and thankfully not detrimental to our Serie B status.
We got back to winning ways with a laboured victory over Ascoli, not pretty in the slightest, but it was the type of victory we needed to get under our belt following the disappointing defeats on the bounce.
Cutrone was certainly benefiting from being the lone striker in a new 4231 system, hitting 6 goals in 6 games for the month, and really putting pressure on the other league’s strikers in the race for top scorer.
To round off the domestic campaign, we had a mixed trio of games to see out first. SPAL continued to be a thorn in our side when they claimed yet another victory over us despite the best start possible.
We then had to regain focus with a trip to Cosenza, and despite being two up within the first twenty minutes, we then found ourselves pegged back and 3-2 down with only ten minutes remaining; Cutrone then bailed us out with the 91st-minute equaliser to keep his goalscoring exploits going.
To round off the season, we recorded a big win over Frosinone, who beat us comfortably earlier in the season. Although it was a meaningless game, it was still a huge confidence boost for the team as a whole and that man again; Patrick Cutrone.
Although a very similar story as the first half of the season, the arrival of Ruan certainly brought value to the team as we conceded fewer goals compared to the first half of the season. Ćorić brought his attacking flair to the business end of the park as we also scored more goals; it was massive in recording a positive goal difference for the second half of the season.
A mixed-bag first season in charge at Como, but it was one where we matched our objectives set out at the start of the season; finish mid-table. The media had precited us to finish 12th and it was a relief to be able to record that finish after a shaky few months before the winter break.
Patrick Cutrone certainly took a while to get going and granted he wasn’t helped with the tactical tweaks and playing in a 2 and as a lone ranger, he finally found his feet at Como and began to show glimpses of his potential he showed during his breakthrough season at AC Milan back in 2017/18.
Another player that was promising was Vittorio Parigini, the 27-year-old winger on loan from Genoa. The Italian recorded 2 goals and 9 assists in 19 appearances for the club, and he really hit form towards the tail end of the season – could we try and get him back for next season? Potentially, but it will be a loan deal once again as he believes the club lacks the financial muscle to get close to his demands.
And he isn’t wrong to be fair. It has been a costly season as we recorded an £8.6 million loss, closing the year off £6.9 million in the red; despite this though, I am guaranteed at least a million to spend on transfers during the summer. It is going to be a massive summer getting players in to match the board’s demands, after all, promotion does not come cheap…
One thought on “#1 – Causin’ A Comotion”
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