After barely surviving the storm, can a battered and bruised Genoa successfully navigate their way through this term, asks Michelle Osei Bonsu?
Which version of Genoa will we see this season? That certainly must be the painfully obvious, yet nagging question at the back of any Grifone fan’s mind as the 2017-2018 Serie A season looms ever closer.
Can anyone blame them, though? Last term was nothing short of an awful roller coaster ride, and thankfully it ended without anyone getting too sick. Frankly, Genoa avoided being relegated largely due to the even worse performances of teams below them in the league table. At one point, they were being touted as dark horse contenders for a potential Europa League spot.
They had done the seemingly unthinkable – defeat the mighty Juventus, and not just by some scrappy one goal, either – but 3-1. Along the way, there was also a thorough trouncing of Milan, also at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. In fact, at that point in Week 10 the team, then under the guidance of Ivan Juric, were in a solid eighth spot.
Juric, who had famously guided Crotone to their historic first ever promotion to Serie A, certainly had plenty of reason to be confident in his abilities. But then, things went horribly awry. Shockingly, the same team who defeated both the Bianconeri and the Rossoneri managed to ship four goals at home against Palermo. But that was by no means the worst that fans would see once the wheels fell off the bus.
February 19, 2017. Every club has its darkest hour, and given that Genoa are Italy’s oldest established outfit, the Grifone obviously have theirs. But it’s probably safe to assume that for some fans that gloomy Sunday may make it into their top five. That was the day the team were utterly humiliated by none other than Pescara, a team who until then had not won an actual game on the pitch. Juric, predictably, was sacked in lieu of Andrea Mandorlini, who failed to make an impact, and soon the Genoa-Juric alliance was back on.
The team managed to weather the storm and scraped by to settle in 16th place. Meanwhile, this summer has seen some changes, namely arrivals such as Gianluca Lapadula and Andrea Bertolacci from Milan as well as Ervin Zukanovic from Roma. So far, they’ve also still managed to hang on to Giovanni Simeone, whilst it will be interesting to see how they manage promising youngster Pietro Pellegri’s integration into the first team. Argentine attacker Ricardo Centurion eventually made it, but given his reported scrapes with the law, supporters are hoping that’s all in his past and not in his future.
There has been some chatter about a potential sale of the club, but nothing solid has come to fruition, so for now the status quo in terms of ownership remains. One thing’s certain though – expect it to be an interesting campaign.
Given Genoa’s topsy-turvy form last term, that saw them once briefly flirt with a potential push for a Europa League spot and then nearly sucked into a relegation battle, it’s obviously hard to predict what to expect from the Grifone. Obviously, they probably won’t be relegated, so a 13th or 14th-placed spot should be what fans realistically aim for. The most important thing will be to find stability, on and off the field.
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