After an eight-year absence from coaching in Serie A, Cesare Prandelli is back in Italy – this time taking over a mediocre and inconsistent Genoa side. The former Italy CT is renowned for rebuilding football sides that are enduring challenging times. So can the new Rossoblu boss calm the waters in the port city?
Despite having started the campaign with four wins out of seven games, Genoa President Enrico Preziosi sacked Davide Ballardini because of the team’s poor display at home against Parma – prompting Ivan Juric’s third return to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
With the Ligurian side only collecting three points out of 21 under Juric, the club fired the Croat for the third time – the embarrassing shock defeat to Serie C side Virtus Entella in the Coppa Italia didn’t help his cause. It’s this managerial chaos that is turning Genoa into the new Palermo.
With the Grifone sitting in 15th place and holding one of the worst defences in Serie A, the pressure is now on Prandelli to quickly improve performances and results in the busiest and most demanding time of the season.
After the 1-1 draw against SPAL last week, there were predominantly positive signs for Prandelli’s first game in charge of the nine-time Scudetto winners. Despite going down to 10 men after Domenico Criscito’s red card in the 11th minute, Genoa’s new boss proved that he could immediately reorganise his team, especially in setting them up for effective counter-attacks. With some heroic saves from young Romanian goalkeeper Ionut Radu and a bit of luck with SPAL hitting the post, it was still a positive defensive and counter-attacking display from a 10-man Genoa outfit.
Prandelli’s performance against SPAL showed that the 2007-08 Serie A Coach of the Year boasts the tactical nous to read the game and modify his team’s approach in difficult circumstances. His tactical qualities and motivational talk might be the components to turn Genoa into a cohesive and consistent unit for the second half of the season. He has achieved it in the past with limited resources at struggling sides.
During Prandelli’s managerial career, the 61-year-old has guided second-tier Italian sides to Serie A and established them as a competitive top-flight team. In 1999, Prandelli steered Serie B outfit Hellas Verona to Serie A and pushed the Mastini to a ninth-place finish in Italy’s top division the following season.
In 2002, Prandelli also revitalised a Parma side living in the shadows of their famous 1990s days. During his first season at Parma, the former Verona boss guided the Ducali to a fifth-place finish in Serie A – five positions higher than the club’s previous campaign. It was the Italian tactician who also masterminded the formidable attacking duo of Adrian Mutu and Adriano in his new 4-3-3 formation. Prandelli will now have the chance to emulate a similar attacking duo at Genoa with breakthrough star Krzysztof Piatek and rising youngster Christian Kouame.
Prandelli also boasts vast experience in uniting teams on the pitch during off-field issues. The 2003-04 Serie A season is when Prandelli had guided Parma to a fifth-place finish – overcoming the Parmalat scandal and club bankruptcy that was circulating the Gialloblu during the middle of the campaign. And it would be difficult to forget when the two-time Panchina d’Oro winner transformed a struggling Fiorentina outfit from relegation battlers into top-four contenders during the first year in his Viola tenure.
Steering Fiorentina to a top-four finish in the 2005-06 Serie A season, Prandelli’s tremendous achievement was short-lived due to the Tuscan club’s involvement in the Calciopoli scandal – sending the Tuscans down to ninth place. With a 15-point deduction the following campaign, Prandelli still pulled off an impressive sixth-place finish with the Gigliati. The 2011 Enzo Bearzot Award recipient also took Fiorentina to new heights in the 21st Century: cementing two fourth-place finishes in Serie A, reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and qualifying for the Champions League.
But Prandelli also emulated his tendency to rebuild teams at an international level. During his four-year stint with the Azzurri, the technical coach rebuilt an Italian side that embarrassingly crashed out of the 2010 World Cup group stages.
After finishing as runners-up at Euro 2012 and mustering Third Place at the FIFA Confederations Cup with a lethal Mario Balotelli leading the frontline, Prandelli’s rejuvenated Azzurri side had restored some Italian pride in the Calcio community.
Ever since the 2014 World Cup failure, Prandelli had fallen under the radar – with inadequate spells at Galatasaray, Valencia and Al-Nasr to follow.
Now the new veteran manager at Genoa is hungry for a fresh challenge and looking to prove that he still has what it takes to coach in one of Europe’s most demanding leagues.
One of the main problems Prandelli must address in this Rossoblu side is the lack of discipline. The Grifone are one of the most undisciplined sides in Serie A this season, with 37 yellow cards and three red cards – at times leaving them in a predicament against tougher opponents.
No doubt Prandelli’s presence will inject fresh creativity into this lacklustre Genoa side. It will be interesting to see how the former Nazionale boss will use his tactical prowess when the Grifone take on an inconsistent and frail Roma.