Wednesday May 1 2019
The Genoa enigma

Football Italia’s Chief Correspondent Richard Hall looks at the problems grappling Genoa and asks where they go from here...

There is no hiding from the problems at Genoa. They have won only once in their last 10 games and, bizarrely, that was against Juventus. They have an experienced Coach in Cesare Prandelli who looks befuddled with his squad and a President who the fans don’t like and who would sell the club if he could only get an offer. They are perilously close to the drop and yet, this proud old club do have some reasons to be positive. Indeed, with a bit of luck and a sensible summer, the Grifone may well have the makings of a good team.

Against Torino last weekend, the Marassi had a very different feel. The usually well-supported Genoa found a stadium barely half-full. A large proportion of the fans had boycotted the stadium in protest, fed up with Enrico Preziosi’s running of the club. The lack of investment rings true, but the businessman is desperate to sell. He even understands why the fans are annoyed. “I am as fed up as everyone else but there haven't been any serious offers,” he recently lamented.

The danger is that as the final days of the season approach, Genoa are sitting just above the drop. For now Prandelli has the backing of Preziosi, despite there being rumours that former boss Davide Ballardini could be reinstated. The ex-Italy CT replaced Ivan Juric, who had been appointed for a third time in place of Ballardini last October, but the rotations at the top, in truth, have changed nothing.

Prandelli, in some regards, was given a poisoned chalice as just a month into his reign, Genoa sold Krzysztof Piatek to Milan. The Polish striker arrived with almost no reputation outside his homeland yet netted 13 times for the Rossoblu in the first half of the season. Since then, the Coach has struggled to find goals and his top scorer is Christian Kouame, who has four goals to his name. An exceptional talent he may be, but he doesn’t have the predatory abilities that Piatek had. Winger Darko Lazovic and veteran forward Goran Pandev have three goals each, as has January recruit Antonio Sanabria, but that still isn’t enough. Genoa’s issues up front have even forced Prandelli to bring Gianluca Lapadula in from the wilderness.

The frustration for Genoa is that they have the makings of a good squad. Ionut Radu has been a saving grace in goal and has helped ease the loss of Mattia Perin, who left for Juventus last summer. Daniel Bessa has had another good season and record signing Stefano Sturaro has performed better than expected. With that in mind, it would be fascinating to see what Prandelli could do in a transfer window with a reasonable degree of backing. Admittedly Preziosi isn’t going to throw money at the club as he wants to sell, but if he invests to make his product more of an asset then Genoa may be attractive enough to attract a serious buyer.

The Ligurians have four tough fixtures left, starting with the visit of Roma on Sunday, before taking on Champions League hopefuls Atalanta. Cagliari could be the game to focus on as after that, they finish with a trip to Fiorentina and don’t look like winning any of those matches. Time is ticking for them to find a victory, and relegation to Serie B would be disastrous for them.

Italy’s oldest club reeks of history. From James Richardson Spensley to William Garbutt, from Branco to Tomas Skuhravy, Genoa have given Serie A so many memories. The next few weeks will not only be critical in the Grifone’s history but also their future.

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