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The madness continues but before we go into that we have important business to attend to. Having lost Assistant Manager Michael Laudrup after he got the manager job at Newcastle, we decided to try and bring in someone with a bit more local knowledge and our hunt brought us to a man I’d never heard of previously but one look at his track record and I could tell he must be a friend of one Patrick Vieira.
Christian Lattanzio arrives as our Number 2 having spent 5 years in the backroom staff at Man City (originally arriving with Roberto Mancini) and obviously becoming best buds with Vieira considering he went on to be his assistant at both NYCFC and Nice (let’s ignore that neither went very well for the ex-Arsenal legend but I’m quite happy with his appointment overall).
Picture the scene. Our transfer budget is announced – £7.5m stretching to £14m with some adjustments, and myself and Christian are sipping a Birra Moretti in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore wondering how on earth we will fund the transfers we need to kick on again this season and continue the batshit mad rebuild that we started last year. While thoughts of extravagant friendly competitions, minimal prize bonuses, ridiculous loan signings and even selling Tomiyasu to Tottenham all crossed my mind it was Lattanzio that slammed his 7th beer on the table and said “Fanculo Madd, sell them all“. Not one to argue with a semi-drunk Italian man, I decided to take his advice and we hit the fax machine hard.
No calculator? From the end of Season 1 to the beginning of Season 2 we managed to raise £65m in transfer revenue, 75% of which made it’s way straight back into our budget. While losing the likes of Dominguez, Dijks and Skov Olsen was never originally part of the plan, the cash was too hard to turn down and once the wheels came off it was all sell sell sell at Bologna. I’ll say one thing though, it was worth it:
If this were real life then Fabrizio Romano’s Twitter would be in overdrive. Whether tremendous or absolute turmoil, the Bologna fans can’t even keep up with all the transfer activity as we spend the best part of £100m on signings (ignoring the already pre-agreed £12m for Musa Barrow), many of which involve us paying 50% up front and the remaining in 3 annual installments but overall both Christian and I are sitting rather pleased by the end of it as we continue to boost the Birra Moretti share price single-handedly. In Stengs and Hagi we bring much needed Flair and Creativity into the forward line wherein Hauge and Soriano struggled last season. Simeone will bring experience, power and composure to the lone striker role and hopefully hold up the ball and bring more players into the attacking third. At 17 we hope Nnamdi Collins will be at the heart of our defence for years to come, while we also snap up Nico Williams on a free transfer to bring youth and pace from the bench in the latter stages. Mingueza and Correia both arrive on loan with optional fees and you would expect both to compete for a first team spot, while I hope that our most thought-through arrival and record signing Orel Mangala will have the biggest impact in match situations as we look for a strong, powerful and athletic ball-carrier (think prime Blaise Matuidi) who can ferry the ball up the field while also lasting the full 90 mins with high Stamina and Natural Fitness. As said before there is method to the madness, and these signings most certainly elevate our playing squad as we enter Season Two – the big question will be, can we fit it all together on time for our league opener against Benevento Calcio?
Benevento vs Bologna FC
Sunday 22nd August 2021
We decide to start the season slightly more conservatively, fully conscious that we have a completely new forward line and 7 of our 8 new signings included in the match day squad meaning the dynamics will be almost non-existent as the team continues to gel and we gain more squad/tactical familiarity. Debuts for Giovanni Simeone, Ianis Hagi, Calvin Stengs and Orel Mangala as well as a return to the squad for Stefano Denswil who returns after a loan spell at Club Brugge last season, Mingueza not fully fit and Nnamdi Collins out injured.
Tactically we look to play a fast Counter Attack with this approach, with a High Tempo and quick passing out from the back and using width to advance the ball and create chances in the box while defensively the strategy is to press urgently (more so in our own half) and quickly break when possession is won. It worked at times last season however we didn’t really have the personnel to execute effectively throughout, we have to be more confident this time round surely.
Ok so not the most convincing performance but a win is a win and we will take the three points away from home. Despite all our new attackers on display it was substitute Musa Barrow that broke the deadlock from a cracking delivery by TakehiroTomiyasu (further justifying that switch to right back) and Simeone was also very unlucky with 6 shots on target and a goal disallowed by VAR for offside. Defensively we looked solid as a rock, however we were perhaps a bit limited in attack with both Musah and Mangala in deeper midfield roles – a home game against Fiorentina next will see what we are really made of, not to mention a tough run of games against Sampdoria, Lazio, Torino, Inter and Napoli all in our first 7 games! Serie A is 🔥 🔥 🔥 .
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