05|01 PRESEASON: NEW CONTRACT. HIGH DETERMINATION!​

seasonFive.episodeOne | Preseason

Something happened over the summer. I don’t know what, but it is a renewed drive to succeed at Parma. Perhaps it was reaching European football. But I have more drive than ever to take this average group of players to new heights.

Efforts will be doubled to get the absolute maximum out of everyone, from players to the staff. And talking of the latter, it’s time for some changes. They say change is as good as a rest, so it’s out with the old (backroom staff) and in with the new (backroom staff)

BACKROOM STAFF CHANGES

So, it was about time I made some changes around here. The same faces every day had made this seem stagnated. Too relaxed.

Assistant Manager

It was time to end my 4-year relationship with Andrea. He has been a good servant, but for what I need out of an assistant, I needed someone with better motivating and man management skills. Sorry Andrea, nothing personal.

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Replacing him is Englishman, Charlie Oatway. Signed from Ipswich Town, Charlie brings in some good experience, as a determined and disciplined recruitment, he will fit in well.

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Head of Youth Development

A key role here, and one I have overlooked at Manager. Luca has brought in some excellent youth players. However, if we are to get the absolute best of the best, I need someone with more than a balanced personality. We have a very close relationship, so another tough decision, but one that had to be made.

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Replacing Luca Piazzi is 61-year old Cetteo Di Mascio. A little older than I would have liked, but there are some retiring players with a model professional personality coming up so he will be a short-term acquisition. At least until he wants to leave. Since the Head of Youth Development will occasionally pass his hidden attributes/personality on to newgens, it is important that I have someone with a high-level personality.

Moreover, his coaching style can affect the type of players we get. Since we’re never going to be elite, a defensive coaching style will likely give us more players who fit this mould.

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With these couple of changes, we should see some improvements at the top level. I’ve also changed some of the coaches to give our players the best possible change of development.

TRANSFER BUSINESS

The board have really backed me this season. €13m to spend. And I needed it to make sure we are able to compete in Europe as well as the league. I wasted little time spending, either, but I had to be mindful of our financial stability and the youth players I had promised to play. I had my list ready before season end, so after handing it to Daniele at the end of last season, this is how he did.

Marko Mijailovic | Free Transfer

Marko will be a fantastic signing for us. And much needed. Was delighted to capture him on a free transfer from Napoli. He will offer an upgrade for us on what we already have. However, he was further down the list in terms of priority and we’ve breached the foreign player rule so he cannot actually play for us this season. I will be trying to loan him out to get experience. Otherwise, he will develop with the Under 20s.

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Nikola Maksimovic | Free Transfer

Another excellent free transfer. Daniele has done well. Nikola will slot in as a starter with Minozzi, who came through the youth ranks. His wages are on the high side, but we’re going to need to start paying a bit more for our key players now.

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Emmanuel Escandar | €3.4m

Another one for the future, but Emmanuel will come into the first team to continue his development. I have high hopes for him. He is very quick, so I will also train him as a winger, to try get some cover out wide. He has excellent pace and dribbling.

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Uriel Antuna | Free Transfer

I had been watching Uriel for a while, and when he became available after Manchester City decided not to offer him a new contract, I snapped up the chance to bring him to the club. Automatic starter with bundles of pace and acceleration. Our tactics have shifted to focus more on wing play so he will be a key player for us I’m sure. Already valued at €9.25m as a key player.

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Eddie Nketiah | Loan

I had to see what all the fuss was about. Eddie became available and I had to take the opportunity to bring him in. Another player bringing bundles of pace into the attack. Can you spot the theme here?

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Jacob Bruun Larsen | Loan

When the Hernâni looked dead and buried I took a look at Jacob. I saw he was available on loan so thought I would bring him in and see what he could do. He can play on either flank so offers a great option.

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Jordi Mboula | Loan

Finally, Jordi Mboula was another player I looked at last season but lost out to him going on loan to Celta Vigo. However, we acted fast this summer and managed to bring him in. Did you notice his pace…

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I’ve strengthened the attack while adding a bit defensively. We have added a lot of pace up front which should see us break down and counter teams a lot more effectively. I’m excited to see how they all settle in.

THE PRESEASON RESULTS

Preseason is always a bit of a non-event. We needed to blend the team, build up that understanding and refamiliarise ourselves with our system.

I think we did that.

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As always at this point, I set myself a target, and I think we can go 1 place better than last season. I want 16 wins, 65 goals and less than 50 conceded. I want automatic qualification to European football. However, we’ve been stripped of a place in the Champions League due to poor performances by Italian teams. Top 3 get Champions League, the next 3 get a Europa League spot. It won’t be easy.

Until next time, arrivederci.

O.Jensen

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