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Season 1: Welcome to Messina.

Time to get my feet under the desk and see what I am working with! The interview process was fairly straight forward and, without any experience, I wasn’t able to bring in any changes to staff. With just under €100k given to me in January, I might be able to spend but, honestly, I want to ‘coach’ this team and, from an early insight into the actual playing squad, I think that is what has been lacking!

A. Staff

I quickly established a hierarchy within the staffing structure and have largely been impressed at what is on offer here. Below are my key staff at this point:

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Chairman Pietro Sciotto’s job here is to hire DoF and Technical Director, which does present a challenge to me as Domenico Roma or Michael Tosi are particularly strong at their job but, given the historical figures that have popped up in Italian football leadership before – cough, Palermo’s twenty-four managers in ten years, cough – I feel that I need to stay on his good, and realistic side. Tosi’s role is  hiring and firing non-coaching staff and, honestly, he’s going to struggle at being able to bring in the best of the best for me and, originating some 950km from Messina – I do worry as to whether he’s going to have that Sicilian DNA that I will likely dip into later.

Hailing at just four hundred kilometres away, right at the bottom of the boot of Italy, Domenico Roma is an experienced lower level director of football and his task is to identify players for the first team, something that he’s not terrible at. My concerns are his absolute lack of tactical knowledge but an attacking style might be what I want and I’m not against using three at the back if necessary.

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Stefano Fiore is a former Italian professional footballer and current coach, born on April 17, 1975, in Cosenza, Italy. He’s currently the assistant manager here and, despite his Pro Licence, I’m not overly sold on his as a member of staff – a cautious mentality with a 433 shape isn’t probably the style I’ll be going for. But, right now, for nostalgia sake, he’s not bad. He just embodies this whole Football Italia vibe so I felt appropriate to also include a video of his goals.

Primarily an attacking midfielder, he was known for his creativity, vision, and ability to score from midfield. Fiore started his professional career with his hometown club Cosenza before moving to Parma, where he contributed to their UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia victories in the mid-1990s. Fiore’s career saw him play for several top Italian clubs, including Udinese, Lazio, and Fiorentina. At Udinese, he emerged as a key player, which earned him a move to Lazio in 2001. During his time at Lazio, he won the Coppa Italia in the 2003-2004 season. Fiore also had brief stints with clubs outside Italy, including Valencia in Spain. On the international stage, Fiore earned 38 caps for the Italian national team, scoring two goals. He was part of Italy’s squad for UEFA Euro 2000, where they reached the final, and also represented his country at UEFA Euro 2004. After retiring as a player, Fiore transitioned into coaching and football management. He has taken on various roles, including working with youth teams and serving as a technical director.

Stefano’s roles are largely around support in terms of player liaison and reporting on training.

Mike Terranova is the current head of player development, tasked with identifying players for the future – a role that he should be strong at, given his eye for identifying talent and then working with them. He doesn’t offer too much in the way of coaching expertise, despite his Pro Licence and, again, his styles and formations probably don’t fit in with my longer term plans. However, he’s highly adaptable and isn’t going to be too bad as he’s able to operate with discipline, able to motivate the players and has a positive personality, to boot. Whilst not an entirely different continent, I do wonder how the German-born and bred in him with cope with the Sicilian heat!

That leaves me, Franco D’Anzi, with an oversight of all training and set pieces. My strengths have been built around tactical and mental coaching across the attacking and defensive phases of play. The fact that both of my right hand men are more qualified than I, possess better man management skills and are more determined to succeed – on paper – than I does worry me. But I’m hoping that my coaching staff, which is already surprisingly strong for this level, will help out:

 

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As a team employed before I joined, I must say I’m impressed at the international credentials (as well as nostalgia) of Hugo Campagnaro – an Argentinian centre back nicknamed The Bull in his playing days, Swiss international keeper Diego Benaglio and once Juventus u23 coach, renowned for his goatee and sideburns – in his younger days – Cristiano LupatelliIt’s odd that two of the three are ex-keepers and that Benaglio has little to no interest in now coaching keepers, but there’s over 1000 games in professional football here – even with Lupatelli, a self-made number two for pretty much all of his career! I think that this experience, plus three strong personalities and room to grow is key for where I want to go with this team.

– – –

B. Players

From the Sicilian national team to stories of the culturally rich area intertwined with financial mismanagement, Sicily is abuzz with footballing heritage. I want to create, in the long term, a team that embodies every ounce of what it is like to be Sicilian. However, in the short term, I’ve got to work, and coach, the group of players that has left us deep in relegation trouble!

Each shirt is clickable for a full profile of the player, created in a new version of my skin for this save.

Goalkeepers

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Don’t be fooled by the stats bar – Fumagalli hasn’t played that well; he’s just played two games! The veteran of my team and, amazingly, the father of a midfielder who plays for us, he’s a truly experienced veteran who has done amazingly well to stay fit for so long. His contract expires at the end of this season and it’ll be really interesting to see how he is dealt with. Moldovan Mitu is, actually, quite a decent footballing keeper and his 14% disparity between his expected save percentage and actual save percentage is largely down to the fact our opponent’s shot quality is high and we’re leaky defensively. There is evidence he’s been tried as a playmaking keeper this year but it hasn’t quite worked out, yet, as he’s failed to record a single progressive pass.

Defenders

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Ugo Dell’Orfanello and Damiano Lia appear to be the best full backs at the club but are both probably better attacking than defending. Neither of them seem to have had a license to get forward and deliver crosses and are both loose in possession. However, both are rounded and seem to have decent attributes for this level. Captain Marco Manetta, the cool named Groovj MacAnthony and Federioc Pacciardi round out a relatively slow, and weak quality area of the team. It’s little wonder why we are conceding so many chances for Mitu in goal with these ahead of him.

Midfielders

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Despite Firenze being ‘5’, he’s actually my archetypical Italian ten and could sit ahead of Frisenna, who I like the look of as a line breaking deep midfielder. I’m quite impressed with his 1.26 key passes per game, 64% tackle win ratio, 4.09 progressive passes and 1.47 interceptions – and, with the right coaching and system – the Catania born lad could flourish. Fumagalli and Franco are both sitters in this system whilst Leone is a mentally strong ten. Caso is just one of a number of promising youngsters, which includes Lucenti, who are going to form part of my development plans.

Forwards

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Statistically, this group can be split into those who carry the ball and those who, well, just don’t. Likewise, the groupings are the same for those who use their aerial threat and those who don’t. None of them are taking many shots and their accuracy is also pretty shocking.

– – –

Tactically, I’m not too sure of what I actually want to achieve but my plan over the next months is to begin to establish a playing style, identify those in the youth teams who I feel could add something different to what we already have and then start to build some progression maps out for them.

Forza Biancoscudati

Author

  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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