With a fairly quiet summer market, and not-so-lofty aspirations, the once exhilarating Flying Donkeys of Verona resemble more of a sensible herd defending their right to graze. Mohamed Nassar looks at what may be expected of Chievo this season.
Nobody could accuse Chievo of being too ambitious. Perfectly content with having avoided relegation, the Veronese side will look for incrimental gains this season, rather than a leap forward. Coach Rolando Maran has remained at the helm after having taken over from the sacked Eugenio Corini last October, and he will try not to shake things up too much.
Emblematic of this desire to maintain the status quo is the three-year contract extension offered to the veteran and club icon Sergio Pellissier. At 36, even the player was surprised by the length of the deal. When asked about Chievo’s plans for the season, Pellisier was forthright in his reply: “The principle objective of the club is to stay in Serie A."
On the transfer market, Chievo lost the services of Inter loanees Ezequiel Schelotto and Ruben Botta, both of whom played important roles last season, along with the Sampdoria-bound full-back Ervin Zukanovic.
On the other hand, Chievo seem to be picking up bargains on the market quite intelligently: Cagliari’s Belgian starlet Jose M’Poku has been brought in to help up front, while the free signing of Cesena’s veteran defender Walter Bressan will probably prove useful.
The Flying Donkeys have also signed Juventus winger Simone Pepe, and although his best years are probably behind him, no one can question Pepe’s dedication and commitment to the cause.
The Veronese side’s pre-season has been fairly uneventful, easily disposing of the Serie D and semi-professional opposition they were pitted against at the start. A 3-1 loss to the much stronger and better prepared Bayer Leverkusen means little, however, this weekend’s draw with Atalanta was probably the best example of a real test.
Come the start of the new season, don’t expect many surprises from Chievo. Maran’s side will look to solidity rather than fantasy. Coaching continuity and the minor changes to the squad will probably mean that Chievo can improve on last season’s finish, however, expecting fireworks will be a stretch too far.
The tactician from Trentino did a fine job of achieving the club’s objective last season, easily avoiding relegation. He built a defensively solid unit that was gritty and tough to beat. Although Chievo lost quite a few players during the summer, his defensive core remains largely unchanged, so expect a similar approach this season.
The surprise three year contract extension to the 36-year-old striker can only highlight the faith the club’s board and Coach have in Pellissier. Although he might not still be able to play a protagonist’s role on the field, expect his input in the dressing room to be crucial.
The young Belgian forward impressed during his half season stint with relegated Cagliari. He managed a respectable 3 goals in 14 starts and should he be afforded the opportunity of consistent starts and better service he could well aim for double figures this term.
At 25, Paloschi can no longer be viewed as “one for the future” but the Italian striker can still look forward to the best years of his career being ahead of him. If he can continue finding the back of the net with regularity, his call-up to Antonio Conte’s ritiro last May will not be a one off.
Bizzarri; Frey, Gamberini, Cesar, CACCIATORE; Birsa, Radovanovic, Hetemaj, PEPE; M’POKU, Paloschi
Chievo will probably achieve their target of Serie A safety with a marginal improvement on their 14th-place finish last season.
Keep up to date with all the Serie A transfers with Football Italia's summer 2015 transfer table.