Coppa Italia: Round of 16 / Team rating: [6/10] / Top scorer: Riccardo Orsolini (8) / Europe: N/A
Bologna’s season was a tale of two halves, one of despair and gloom, the other of hope and redemption, writes Kyle Debelak.
Bologna’s season could easily be divided into two distinct parts: the first part with Filippo Inzaghi as Coach, and the second part with Sinisa Mihajlovic on the bench.
Inzaghi’s first task was somehow replacing the goals from Simone Verdi, who was sold to Napoli. Bologna signed Riccardo Orsolini on loan from Juventus to take up the wide forward position, in hopes that he would be able to score enough goals for them to stay up. Furthermore, Inzaghi also signed the Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski from Roma to take over from Antonio Mirante, who headed the other way to the capital club.
On January 27, Bologna lost 4-0 at home to ultimately relegated Frosinone. They had a mere 14 points after 21 matches. The following day, they sacked Inzaghi and appointed the Serbian Sinisa Mihajlovic for a second spell in charge, albeit his first in a decade. It was an appointment that proved to be a stroke of genius, as Bologna’s form turned around, and they ended up finishing in a more than respectable 10th place.
Credit should also be given to Orsolini, who scored six goals under Mihajlovic, as opposed to only two under Inzaghi. His resurgence included the winner away at Torino.
It is perhaps clichéd, but it really was a tale of two different seasons for Bologna. Their form under Mihajlovic was a complete turnaround from how they were performing under Inzaghi for the first 21 rounds.
Chairman Joey Saputo is perhaps the mastermind behind the rebound for Bologna. During the season, the Canadian chairman got rid of some deadweight among the squad and appointed Mihajlovic for his second time in charge of Bologna. Overall, the season could and should be considered a success at the Stadio Dall’Ara.
The Coach: Sinisa Mihajlovic
Changing the team’s tactical formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-1-1 paid immediate dividends with a win against Inter at San Siro, and getting the best out of Orsolini proved to everyone that he was the right man for the job. He even revitalised Rodrigo Palacio and got Mattia Destro scoring goals.
Player of the Year: Rodrigo Palacio
The 37-year-old seemed ready to hang up his boots or at least take a less essential role within the squad, but this was one of his best seasons in some time. Whether it was as a centre-forward, a winger or a trequartista, La Trenza was in the thick of the action and his three goals and seven assists don’t accurately reflect his influence.
Highlight: Bologna 2-1 Sassuolo
The 2-1 win against rivals Sassuolo on March 31, in which Mattia Destro scored a 96th-minute winner, proved to be point in time when Bologna and their supporters really believed that they would stay up. Despite Sassuolo equalizing in the 92nd minute, Bologna did not give up and managed to snag all three points at the death.
Nightmare: Bye Bye Inzaghi
The lowest point of the season for Bologna was undoubtedly the 4-0 loss at home to the eventually relegated Frosinone. It ended up being Inzaghi’s final match in charge of Bologna, and the end of the nightmare-filled 21 games with only two wins.
Did You Know?
- Bologna put together 14 points in 21 Serie A games under Inzaghi, compared to 30 points from 17 rounds with Mihajlovic.
- The Rossoblu closed out the season with seven consecutive home victories, their best run at the Dall’Ara since eight in December 2002.
- They were the only side to finish in the top half of the Serie A table with a negative goal difference (-8).