Tuesday December 31 2019
No Lanterna at end of Genoa tunnel

These are worrying times for Genoa and Football Italia Chief Correspondent Richard Hall tries to make sense of the mess in Liguria.

Forget criticising Thiago Motta for the 2-7-1 formation. The idea is a sound one and is nothing more than how the team would be set out if offensively when in possession. It is basically a 3-4-2-1 out of possession and something Pep Guardiola has often used. The fact is, Motta did not stand a chance at Genoa, neither would Mikel Arteta, Fabio Grosso or any other up and coming coach one can think of. That is simply because the environment Motta had to work in reeked of short termism and desperation.

Italy’s oldest club sadly finds itself in the hands of a financial advisor trusted with finding a buyer. The relationship between President Enrico Preziosi and the fans has been absolutely and almost terminally toxic for some time. This indignity is so bad that he cannot attend home games.

For many a year, the President has been trying to offload a club steeped in tradition, an Italian institution. Back in 2017 a deal was tantalisingly brokered between the Genoa owner and financier Giulio Gallazzi, but the rumoured €120m takeover fell through. Now however, with relegation staring Genoa in the face, Preziosi has tried to come back in with a newfound enthusiasm.

The Ligurians are in trouble, there is no hiding from this. They are propping up the Serie A table and hot favourites on Betway88 insider football for relegation. Ironically, Aurelio Andreazzoli was the best man for the job. Results were not going his way, but the team had an identity. His tactics were based around a flexible 4-3-2-1 or 3-5-2 approach, depending whether in or out of possession, and the aggressive pressing his game demanded was in tune with the modern game despite the coach being 65 years old. This takes time to implement and he wasn’t given enough of that, but the sparks were there.

Instead, Genoa decided to embark on a strategy of hire and fire, bringing in Thiago Motta, another student of the game with exciting ideas that needed time, only to sack him in a panic. If either Thiago Motta or Andreazzoli had been allowed the entire season, they would probably be higher up the table and the players would have identity and structure. Davide Nicola has the job now and Betway88 odds for him to last until May are not looking reassuring.

Back to Enrico Preziosi and his ‘mini revolution’ as it has come to be known. That is if ‘mini revolution’ means panicking that your assets are on the brink of falling off a cliff. With relegation eyeballing the Grifone, the President has brought in Nicola, a sound coach with spells at Crotone and Udinese who is arguably more pragmatic. They are reportedly looking to sign Milan forward Fabio Borini, Belgrano defender Bruno Amione and Viktoria Plzen attacker Michael Krmencik, not to mention Mattia Perin returning on loan from Juventus.

Perin is a win, there is no doubt about this. He is one of the most talented ‘keepers in the league and he arguably should never have left Genoa. He is one of those players who embodies the club and despite Ionut Radu’s potential, this move makes sense. Radu is the unfortunate fall guy here, Samir Handanovic’s heir apparent has been left out to dry by his rather pathetic defence this season. Out of all of the issues Genoa have, the goalkeeping position isn’t a major one and yet, you can’t turn down the option to sign Perin.

Rather more concerning in the Preziosi revolution is the reported purge. Lasse Schone, Antonio Barreca, Sinan Gumus and one of Andrea Favilli and Andrea Pinamonti are likely to be shown the door and this seems utter madness. Take Gumus out of the equation and arguably these are some of the most talented players in the squad. How can anyone settle when they are on their third coach and not even halfway through the season?

So, what does the future hold for Italy’s oldest club? The idealist and the romantic simply cannot want Genoa to go down. From James Richardson Spensley to William Garbutt, from Branco to Tomas Skuhravy, Genoa reeks of history, like an old chesterfield armchair at a Gentleman’s club.

That matters little in this era of football, so unless the club is sold or they stick to a coach and a philosophy, Genoa may be bidding farewell to the top flight.

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