Month one in Venice is over, and I’ve been spending it settling in to life at my new club. Everyone’s been great at welcoming me to such a wonderful city, and adjusting to the way of life has certainly been a challenge.
That being said, I like to get straight down to work. We’ve had a busy July with player movements, new tactical systems and plenty of friendlies. Here’s what we got up to as we prepare for the 2016-17 season.
Having had a look at the current crop of players, I didn’t want to make too many changes to the team. We’re pretty strong in most areas of the field, but I wanted to still bring in a few fresh faces to give me some options. The board gave me a sizeable budget of £689k in transfer fees, with £55k per week to spend on wages. Definitely something to play with!
The key areas I though that we needed to strengthen were
- Right back/right wingback
- Central attacking midfield
The striker option, although I say we needed to strengthen, is a bit misleading. I would say we needed a different option to the 3 target men we already have. To me though, that is still strengthening the squad. It was highly surprising that there wasn’t a competent right back of any real quality in the squad. We have Giuseppe Zampano that can play right wing back, but not right back, so I’m currently training him in the full back role so that he can provide an option there.
We said goodbye to a couple of players, freeing up some of the wage budget and generating around £20k in fees. Both Evans Soglio and Gianni Fabiano are the wrong side of 32 for me, and I didn’t see either player fitting in to my plans at the Pierluigi Prenzo. Whilst we’ve still got a few lads over 32, I think these guys have the quality to play for us right now.
Turning to the lads coming in, and the first name that probably catches your eye is Greek winger/striker Dimitris Salpingidis. I managed to convince him to sign on a very cheap contract at £475 per week for one year, so I feel he’s got very little risk attached to him despite his age. He’s got a great work ethic which will suit the Italian leagues well. I’ll be honest though – he wasn’t my first choice for this role; that honour goes to Bosko Jankovic. That said, I’m still happy with this signing.
Now, to address the positions listed above, we start off with Scottish right back Paul Caddis who joins Venezia on a free transfer. Boasting plenty of experience with Celtic, Swindon and Birmingham on his resumé, I’m surprised that Caddis has signed especially given his age at 28. I think Caddis could be with us all the way to Serie A, and potentially be a starter in that league too.
My first signing of the summer was centre back Matteo Gentili to sure up the defence a little bit. He was wanted by a number of clubs in the Lega Pro, so we had to move fast to secure his signature.
The first big name at Venezia – Greek winger Salpingidis signs for a year
We also splashed the cash this summer, picking up midfielder Andrea Russotto from Catania for £170k, and also Riccardo Bocalon for a wopping £400k from our league rivals Alessandria. Russotto has a lot of experience in the lower Italian leagues, whilst Bocalon (having come through at Internazionale) returns to Venezia permanently after spending two seasons on loan here, scoring 23 league goals in 40 league appearances.
I’m still trying to ship out a few players right now, but it’s proving tricky. We’ve got a squad of 24, which for me is about 2 – 3 players too many despite the signings I have. The coaches reckon that there are a couple of 1 – 2 star ability players, so these guys will be the ones I will try and sell on to help balance the books.
Pre Season Friendlies
A reasonable start to pre season here. I’m still experimenting with different formations, roles etc, but to win 4 from 4 is very pleasing. It’s great to see that Russotto, Bocalon and Caddis all getting on the scoresheet too. Admittedly, we’ve not played a big side, but Benevento are in Serie B and we beat them 5-1 at their place!
The two formations that I’m training up right now are this 3-5-2 WB, and this 4-2-3-1. I know I spoke about “sexy calcio” in my previous post, but we can start to evolve that when we progress up the Italian football league. Right now, I just want to get the club back to the top flight to help build finances and reputation, and I think these are the systems that will get us there.
We’ve still got over a month until the league campaign begins, but August will see the start of the Serie C cup. I’d like to put together a good cup run, and if we can hit the ground running in this tournament we’ll be in a good state for the league campaign. I’ll update you guys with how we got on in August soon. Until then – Be Champions.