2016-17 review

Serie A Pts P W D L F A
18th 32 38 8 8 22 29 61

Coppa Italia: Fourth Round / Team rating: 3 / Top scorer: Mchedlidze (6) / Europe: N/A

Empoli failed to meet expectations and threw away a huge advantage to find themselves relegated on the final day, writes Cammy Anderson.

Empoli implode

For the second summer running, Empoli lost their Coach due to their success of the season before, but this time the pattern was not emulated. The Azzurri flirted with relegation from the off and never found themselves higher than 16th place all season. Even then, they had a nine-point advantage with nine games remaining and still finished below Crotone.

The Castellani outfit were unable to retain a number of the loan players who lead them to a 10th-place finish last season and struggled to find adequate replacements. A mid-table spot was the initial expectation, but it become apparent very quickly that it should instead be survival – something they could not manage.

The Azzurri really struggled to string a run of form together. It took them three rounds to pick up their first victory and their second did not come for another nine after that. Empoli’s only real spell of form came between mid-April and mid-May, when they picked up 10 from a possible 15 points, suddenly motivated by Crotone’s resurgence.

Going in to the final game of the season, Empoli had a point advantage over Crotone, who occupied the final relegation place. The Tuscans just needed to defeat already-relegated Palermo, who had just five wins to their name all season, to decide their own future. Otherwise, anything but a Crotone victory saw Empoli safe. Crotone breezed past Lazio 3-1, while incredulous Empoli lost 2-1 in Palermo. All season they tried to do the bare minimum and ultimately it just wasn’t enough.

The lack of a constant goal threat was one of the main reasons behind their relegation. Serie B awaits the Azzurri next term and they will hope to bounce back at the first time of asking, but will certainly need to make many changes if they wish to do so. 

The Coach – Giovanni Martusciello

Martusciello’s loyalty to the club was rewarded, as he was promoted to manager having previously served as a youth coach and assistant to the tacticians before him. Somewhat of a surprise appointment, Empoli may well wish they had gone for a more experienced head instead. 

Player of the Year - Lukasz Skorupski

Skorupski was one of the few loan players they could retain from last year and the Pole saved Empoli on a number of occasions over the course of the season. The 26-year-old kept 10 clean sheets as he played all but two games of the Serie A season. Perhaps the only stand-out player of the side.

Highlight – Away we go

When celebrating back-to-back wins away to Fiorentina and Milan, surely that is the sign of a team that will stay in Serie A? Apparently not, as the shock victories in the closing weeks only lulled them into a false sense of security. 

Nightmare – Palermo 2-1 Empoli

It's the ultimate nightmare for fans on the final day of the season. You know the future is in your hands, a win against an already-relegated and unmotivated side will render Crotone's result irrelevant. Not only were Empoli unable to get the victory in Sicily, they went 2-0 down and ultimately lost. In these circumstances, few could argue with the fact they deserved to go down.

Did You Know?

- Empoli failed to find the net in 20 of their 38 games this season, a league worst.

- Edin Dzeko scored as many goals as the entire Empoli team put together: 29.

- The Tuscans set a new club record of seven consecutive defeats.