Coppa Italia: Fourth Round / Team rating: [2/10] / Top scorer: Mariusz Stepinski (6) / Europe: N/A
Chievo Verona faced an uphill battle from the get-go and churning through three Coaches just made matters worse, writes Kieran Thomas.
Chievo have always done the bare minimum to ensure Serie A survival and it usually works, but a three-point penalty for financial irregularities handed down in mid-September made it an even tougher prospect. They then made a series of terrible decisions to make the situation so much worse.
Trigger happy with Coaches, Lorenzo D'Anna lost his job in in October after just two points from the opening eight rounds, even if one of those was in a 2-2 draw away to Roma. The real problems started when Giampiero Ventura was hired as his replacement. The disgraced former Italy boss debuted with a 5-1 home defeat to Atalanta and after finally picking up a 2-2 draw with Bologna in his fourth game in charge, he promptly quit. If there were still any admirers left, Ventura lost them with that tantrum.
Domenico Di Carlo was drafted in during a moment of desperation and in fairness did stop the plummet with six consecutive stalemates, holding the likes of Napoli, Lazio and Inter. A 1-0 victory over Frosinone on December 29 made them think there was hope, but 2019 started badly and ended worse. The January transfer window promised great things, but Ezequiel Schelotto was injured immediately, while Lucas Piazon on loan from Chelsea looked like a fish out of water.
There were just 10 different goal-scorers in total, with only two players finding the net more than three times. Sergio Pellissier deserved a better send-off at the end of his career.
The Coach: D’Anna, Ventura, Di Carlo
Mimmo Di Carlo was appointed in November 2018 and was the Gialloblu’s third Coach of the campaign. He brought stability, focus and pride back to at least keep Chievo afloat after the dire Lorenzo D’Anna and Giampiero Ventura periods. Both victories came under his tenure.
Player of the Year: Mariusz Stepinski
The young Poland international impressed enough last season to earn a permanent move from FC Nantes for €2.5m and was their top scorer this term, albeit only on six goals. Strong in the air, the 24-year-old really needs to work on his finishing under stressful situations.
Highlight: Lazio 1-2 Chievo
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic got himself sent off in the first half-hour for a petulant reaction foul, but it was still a shock to see already-doomed Chievo emerge from the Stadio Olimpico with three points. If nothing else, they regained some pride and proved results against them were not to be taken for granted.
Nightmare: Ventura turnaround
It’s still not entirely clear what happened. Ventura lasted four games, waited until he finally managed to avoid defeat to announce he was walking away, leaving players and President dumbfounded. When all-round nice guy Sergio Pellissier is calling you an embarrassment on live television, you know you’ve overstepped a mark.
Did You Know?
- For the first time since Serie A returned to 20 teams in 2004-05, a club finished the season with just two wins.
- Chievo had the third-worst defensive record in Europe’s top five leagues this season with 75 goals conceded, fewer only than Huddersfield on 76 and Fulham’s 81.
- Sergio Pellissier retired at the age of 40 with 112 Serie A goals in 457 games.