Tommaso Giulini took over from Massimo Cellino and installed Czech chess master Zdenek Zeman as head coach. Mark Siglioccolo ponders Cagliari's pre-season and their new emphasis on youth.
Self confessed Inter fan and former member of the Nerazzurri board of directors Tommaso Giulini bought the club in June to end 22 years of Massimo Cellino-ownership at Cagliari. The 37-year-old has moved quickly to already settle the Stadio Sant'Elia debacle and increased the capacity to 12,000.
The appointment of Zdenek Zeman was just as fast, and somewhat ironic as the Rossoblu spelt the end of his Roma tenure - a 4-2 home defeat to Cagliari in February 2013 prompted the Giallorossi to dismiss the veteran tactician as their aggressive attacking style was blamed for defensive vulnerability. The 67-year-old certainly arrives in Sardinia with that same reputation of cavalier football, and it has already been exposed in pre-season preparations. Initial results were positive but subsequently followed by heavy defeats to Getafe and Celta Vigo.
An injection of youth from President to players includes Antonio Balzano and Marco Capuano to serve the former Pescara Coach, along with Parma's Luca Ceppitelli and Inter's Simone Benedetti to rejuvenate the defence. Last season's top scorer Mauricio Pinilla has switched to Genoa and will be missed along with Davide Astori, Nene, Vlada Avramov and Gabriele Perico.
Cagliari have been linked to the likes of Sparta Prague versatile midfielder Josef Husbauer to sure up proceedings, whilst Alessio Cragno arrives from Brescia along with Simone Colombi. This Italian goalkeeping duo are seen as two for the future but the club's failure to acquire Manuel Almunia suggests that they are still in the market for an experienced shot stopper. Exciting Bologna primavera starlet Alessandro Capello was exchanged for Marios Oikonomou while fellow forwards Samuele Longo, Caio Rangel and Diego Farias join a very changed strike-force.
This new-look Rossoblu are building for the future and will certainly be a work in progress. If Zeman can stamp his style on to the team quickly whilst striking a defensive balance with an established No 1 and back line, survival should be within their means.
The Serie A stalwart has a reputation that precedes him of all out attacking football. His sides historically play 4-3-3 and although they are rarely boring, it does not always produce the best results. If his youngsters can gel quickly they could surprise, but realistically they, and he, will need time.
With Pinilla gone, Sau is now the club's focal point. His record for Cagliari is just under one goal every three games and with the new tactics instilled he is surely bound to score plenty more this season.
The 18-year-old may be a gamble but his impressive primavera goal scoring exploits are enough to suggest that he may just be ready to explode in Serie A. At just €1m he should be a steal.
Anonito Conte has a job on his hands rejuvenating the Azzurri, but with such a pool of young talent at the Rossoblu he is bound to look over a few. The 24-year-old centre-back could have a pivotal season in his career and could be a contender to replace Andrea Barzagli.
COLOMBI; Pisano, CEPITELLI, CAPUANO, Avelar; CAPELLO, Crisetig, Ekdal; FARIAS, Sau, Cossu
With a risky ploy of introducing a raft of raw youngsters, this season could go either way. Realistically as long as Zeman is not dismissed, as his style does not yield instant results, a repeat of last season's finish should be achievable.
|Colombi (Atalanta)||GK||Silvestri (Leeds)||GK|
|Cragno (Brescia)||GK||Avramov (Torino)||GK|
|Benedetti (Inter)||D||Oikonomou (Bologna)||D|
|Balzano (Pescara)||D||Bastrini (Novara)||D|
|Capuano (Pescara)||D||Perico (Cesena)||D|
|Ceppitelli (Parma)||D||Astori (Roma)||D|
|Crisetig (Inter)||M||Del Fabro (Pescara)||D|
|Donsah (Verona)||M||Ibraimi (Maribor)||M|
|Capello (Inter)||A||Vecino (Empoli)||M|
|Longo (Inter)||A||Tabanelli (Cesena)||M|
|Rangel (Flamengo)||A||Nene (Verona)||A|
|Farias (Chievo)||A||Pinilla (Genoa)||A|