02|03 RITORNO: OBJECTIVE, SURVIVAL!

seasonTwo.episodeThree | Ritorno

I need to remember that this season the objective was survival. We’ve had a dreadful second half, and if it wasn’t for the couple of wins we picked up in the first half we’d be down already.

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With both of our strikers out to long-term injuries, and our sides inability to maintain their concentration levels for more than 75 minutes, we were in trouble.

Just the one win then, and more worryingly, 14 goals conceded in 7 games. We play a defensive mentality, with the idea that we should not be conceding, or at least not conceding too many. What made it worse was the fact that in the next 6 games we had Inter, Napoli, Udinese, Roma and Juventus.

I had kept faith in the 4-1-4-1 system up until this point, although it clearly wasn’t working out as well as it could have. Bearing in mind that in some cases, the players are only suited to Serie B, I still think we could have performed better. I was relying on some players who were far too young for the first team and in a lot of cases playing players out of position.

I made a slight adjustment to some of the mentalities, to get the wide men more attacking form their deeper positions and to encourage the fullbacks on a little. And it almost worked, starting with such promise…

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However, we then went on to only win 2 in the next 11 games. It was an embarrassment. Our lack of focus and ability to play for the full 90 minutes was a direct influence on the results. We conceded 16 of the goals in the last 15 minutes of games, dropping 8 points in the process. Our concentration and work rate levels are amongst the worst in the league, and it certainly showed. We couldn’t hold on to a lead if our life depended on it. As an example, up until the last 15 minutes, we were 2-1 up against Bologna and lost 4-2 in the end… Synonymous with our season.

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As you can see, we just cannot keep a lead and the defensive organisation is something I will want to look at in the close season. However, up to this point, we were 6 clear of relegation with 2 games to go. Fortunately, we had Ceravolo back…

I decided to take the brakes off. We needed a point from our final two games. And with Crotone to play (a fellow relegation battler), I didn’t want it to go to the last day. Safety was secured, however, after the switch to Control mentality. And a clean sheet to boot. However, we ended the season in typical Parma fashion. A hammering by a team about to go down to Serie B.

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Final league table

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Napoli are crowned champions after Juventus lose 5-0 to Sassuolo on the final day. It has been an odd season. If only we were financially rewarded for staying up…

FINANCIAL RESULTS

We have been gifted €6.07m for transfers next season. Nowhere near enough to reinforce the side so that we can ensure our survival again. So it looks like it’ll be another season of loans and youth players.

We received €1.1m for our final league position of 16th. To put that into some perspective: Leicester will receive €10.4m and Augsburg will receive €34.5m (although this also includes TV money I believe). We’re not going to be able to compete just yet. We received twice this amount for our finish in Serie B.

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Financially, we’re running a tight ship. We’ve restricted transfers and wage increases through new contracts and we are seeing the benefits with a balance of €15m up from €1.9m last season. The plan is to keep on with our financial prudence, promote youth players to the first team and try to grow and improve our financial model.

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In terms of our revenues, we expected these to increase based on playing in a higher division now. The key here will be to improve on this next season. Our kit sponsorship is up this year so it will be interesting to see what the commercial team can come up with.

PLANS FOR NEXT SEASON

It has been a season of consolidation and survival. Given the small budget, it will be much of the same again next season. Efforts will be doubled in our pursuit to promote from within. I will be reviewing the scout team and looking to take on some fresh faces who have an eye for spotting young talent. I will shift our scouting focus to search for young players we can bring in on the cheap and develop in-house.

To kick things off, I managed to convince the board to upgrade the youth facilities to give us a better chance of bringing through more youth prospects. Our youth facilities are average at the moment. The money in Italy is poor, so we’re never going to be able to compete with the top teams, so if we can bring through better youth players for the team we will be better off than loaning for a cost. I am also under no illusions that we will have to sell a few players to ensure our financial future. This is a model that I am comfortable with. Develop youth, sell to survive and in the process grow in stature to convince better players to come and play for us to help us up the league and to move from relegation candidates to an established Serie A side.

We have some excellent prospects at the club. They will get some game time next season, that’s for sure. However, we need to balance their development with our need to play the best side we have available in order to guarantee survival.

It’ll be an interesting second season in Serie A, that’s for sure.

Until next time, arrivederci.

O.Jensen

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