Saturday November 7 2020
Italiano: 'Spezia not whipping boys'

Vincenzo Italiano insists Spezia have no intention of being ‘the whipping boys of Serie A’ after their 3-0 victory away to Benevento.

The star of the show at the Stadio Vigorito was M’Bala Nzola, who scored not only his first ever Serie A goal, but also his first brace after a Tommaso Pobega opener.

“Nzola is a good lad, we’re very happy with him as long as he performs like this. We hope he can continue like this, because he’s very important for us,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“We have a lot of injuries, but decided to have such a large squad because we knew there could be difficulties with COVID-19 and other issues. This choice is paying off, as all the lads are contributing, even Leo Sena managed to play and Estevez started.

“There are many new players, we started the season late and are still playing catch-up, but we’re getting stronger.”

Spezia are in their first ever Serie A campaign and have the lowest wage bill of all the clubs in the top flight.

“In many respects, we are still a long way behind, as many lads are out of shape or still getting to grips with a new country, new style of football, new division, but evidently we are on the right track.

“We realised the importance of this game and that we dropped points recently, such as when we were 2-0 up at Parma and drew 2-2.

“We came here today with our identity, we played well and I thought it was a deserved victory.”

Spezia have found the net with seven different players in Serie A so far this season and tend to crowd into the opposition penalty area.

“Our intent is not to just defend. We are new to this level, we don’t want to sit there and get pummelled by the opponents. We want to cause them problems, try to push forward into the box and naturally these crosses need bodies in the area.

“Pobega is a young lad, who has shown he can have an important future. I am convinced if he improves on the ball and doesn’t give it away so often, he can do great things, as he has the physicality and times his forward runs really well.”

Italiano is one of several young coaches in Serie A this season who decided to take an attacking approach, even with a limited budget and ambitions.

“I was a midfielder, a playmaker, so I try to create the kind of football that I enjoyed playing. I tell the lads that if we’d believed in ourselves a little more, we could have done even better.

“Everyone thought we were the whipping boys of Serie A, that we’d get hammered every week, so we need to use that assumption as further motivation. We want to leave every pitch with our heads held high.”