“I think this is one of the best group of players assembled during my footballing life. It is a well balanced squad in all departments of the team. There is physicality, youthfulness, experience and quality. Taking a look at the competition and the value of our players, I won’t be happy if we only finish in ninth or tenth place. There is everything we need to have a say in the championship, even if it is clear that the top teams will be in a race of their own.”
These were the optimistic words last September of a President whose club now sits on the cusp of relegation after a shocking run of 11 matches without a win. Genoa’s season went from bad to worse on Sunday as it was thrust into the spotlight by the actions of some frustrated fans – who should never have thrown flares on to the pitch – during the 4-1 loss to Siena.
President Enrico Preziosi was visibly angry and upset at the events which unfolded at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris and laid blame at the feet of the fans at the centre of the storm. And while accepting his reign has not been perfect – “I have made many mistakes in my time here” – Preziosi should be held accountable for his part in driving Genoa to such a position.
Since buying the club in 2003, the toy magnate has treated the Grifoni as such. His constant desire for instant success or a quick-fix has only hurt them. The club is wracked with instability and cannot grow when upheaval occurs every 12 months. For such a proud club – sitting fourth on the all-time Scudetto winners’ list – the manner in which tacticians are hired and fired, or players bought and sold, is unacceptable and simply taking the fans for a ride.
This season alone the Rossoblu have been under the control of Alberto Malesani, Pasquale Marino, Malesani again and now Luigi De Canio – for the second time in his career. This is not an irregular occurrence. Beside Gian Piero Gasperini’s reign from 2006-07 to 2009-10, a number of mid-season changes have occurred and 13 different tacticians called-upon.
On the transfer market Genoa are never at rest. In just the past three seasons, the Grifoni have signed 85 players whilst saying goodbye to 64. The massive turnover does not allow for squad development, nor does much for team harmony and player morale.
Some players signed never made an appearance for Genoa, such as Kevin-Prince Boateng, who was immediately loaned to Milan. Along with making a quick Euro, at times it appears Preziosi is more concerned with assisting Milan rather than Genoa, as evidenced by the Alexander Merkel scenario. His Rossoblu loan was cut short in January, to which Preziosi remarked: “We did Milan a favour seeing as we have a relationship of collaboration with them and that they do have a few problems in midfield.”
The UEFA Cup qualifiers under Gasperini in 2008-09, that free-flowing 3-4-3 outfit which captivated Italy, was broken up after a year in which it was adapting to the rigours of Europe. To go back even further, Genoa were denied a place in Serie A in 2005-06 after the President conspired to fix the last match of the season against already relegated Venezia. His side only required a draw for promotion but were subsequently relegated to Serie C1.
During his nine-year spell Preziosi has helped Genoa climb from mid-table mediocrity in Serie B to Serie A and beyond, whilst acquiring players such as Diego Milito, Thiago Motta and Rodrigo Palacio. Yet those days look far removed as the club sits just a point above the relegation zone. The President claimed Genoa were being held hostage by the minority on Sunday, but perhaps he should look in the mirror and see what his actions are doing to the Grifoni. Ninth doesn’t sound so bad now.