After some nice feedback to my opening introduction post, we get to business with the first proper post of our Parma Revival series. Just to summarise everything I have taken control of Parma with them going down to Serie D using a downloadable database found on FMScout website (link on previous post) and with almost every player jumping ship except from captain Lucarelli, we are left to rebuild this side from virtually scratch.
The Parma board wish me to win the Serie D title at the first time of asking, if you’re wondering how the set up works – Serie D is split into 9 different leagues of 20 teams, the winner of each “league” goes up to Serie C, where it is split into three seperate leagues.
I only made two signings in Mel Taufer and Claud Adjopang with nobody leaving the club in the summer, Mel Taufer is a centre midfielder, who has mostly being played in our anchor man role, with tackling and work rate of 12 and 15 for team work he has a good base however he could probably be pushed further forward with passing of 12 and flair of 14 maybe being wasted in his current role.
Claud Adjopang signed on a season long loan from Serie A outfit Sassuolo and he has probably been my player of the season, a flying right wing back he has assisted six times in 20 games and holds an incredible average rating of 8.39.
I play a 2-3-2-3 and it is generally inspired by a great “Emulating Pep Guardiolas Positional Play” article written by Passion4FM (twitter – @passion4fm) article link – http://www.passion4fm.com/football-manager-barcelona-tiki-taka-tactics-emulating-pep-guardiolas-positional-play/.
I have had to adapt the tactic, one of the most under-rated players in Barcelona system is the outstanding Sergio Busquets in the deeper role – we are in the fourth tier of Italian football and when I trialled Mel Taufer in the deep lying playmaker role in defensive midfield he was good but I felt we had little protection for the back 2 so I have settled on an anchor man role however I could probably do with a midfield destroyer in this role.
Another aspect of the tactic which differs is that I don’t currently play a high defensive line, as I touched on in my introduction Lucarelli is one of our key players however playing a high line with a 38 year old with 8 acceleration would be suicidal. In the near future we will push our defensive line higher to compress the play and press aggressively.
I’ll be brief in why I believe in this tactic, I love dominating football games and expressive football – 2-3-2-3 is my favourite tactical system and in this I love how our false nine drops off drags defenders about – (I talk about him a lot in this update but Melandri performs this role so much better than anyone else I have), how my inside forwards like Dimitar Traykov and Yves Baraye will come inside and look to create opportunities and get shots off.
The flexibility of the system allows the wing backs in particular the impressive Claud Adjapong to bomb on and we look to overload areas of the pitch whilst controlling the tempo and how our number 10 Walter Rodriguez gets on to so many great shooting chances inside the opposition box – it’s high risk football at times but for me it is entertaining.
Serie D cup results
We have enjoyed a good run in the Serie D cup to this point in reaching the semi final stage – a couple of points should be made here is that we will play Florenzuola in the semi final over a 2 leg affair which seems interesting and that the Parma board have no interest in this competition however I feel we have a chance of winning this.
Our first game was against Triestina and was a very comfortable 2-0 victory, before we faced a league rival in Forli who at the time of writing are pushing us in Serie D – we progressed in a thrilling 3-2 victory, going 2-0 up by 49 minutes we were somehow pegged back to 2-2 before super sub Fabio Lauria popped up with the winner in the 93rd minute.
Next up was a routine 1-0 victory over Olbia with the main talking point being the return from injury of our best striker Daniele Melandri – when he is fit he really takes our team to the next level but more to come on his injury problems later.
Next up was a quarter final match against Sarnese who are struggling in mid table in their respective league but had went on a good run, we smashed them in honesty and progressed to the semi final with a convincing 2-0 victory, goals coming from young wide man Dimitar Thaykov and star striker Daniele Melandri.
Serie D performance
The league season for Parma is possibly as expected with us being top of the pile, however the fact that a 5 point gap feels more like a relief than being happy about it tells it’s own story. I probably over-exaggerated the strength of my own Parma side in the introduction post, we are strong in certain areas but we have a long way to go and some of the teams chasing us such as Forli and Mezzolara are decent footballing sides.
My Parma side were unbeaten for our opening 9 games but even in this period we were solid defensively as we have been throughout the season in general however scoring just 3 times in 5 games and drawing 3 games in this period was a big problem including two 0-0 draws.
Since that poor start we have found the way to the goal and have went on to pick up 10 wins, 3 draws and only the one loss in the next 14 league fixtures which has propelled us from lowly 8th to having a small cushion at the top of the league.
Key games within the season were the 1-0 victory over 4th placed Virtus Castelfranco, the win kickstarted us after the first 5 game poor spell and we dominated the game against a decent side – Dimitar Traykov with the breakthrough on 71 minutes, a 4-1 win over bottom side Ribelle was the first time we hit a team for 4 which we have now managed on 2 other occasions and a 1-0 win over Fortis Juventus with the winner from the frustrating Francesco Corapi coming on 85 minutes which was a massive three points.
As I will discuss later, the return of Daniele Melandri was vital as was the excellent form of number 10 Walter Rodriquez who has managed to grab 7 goals and 1 assist in 15 starts and promotion from our under 20s of inside forward Dimitar Traykov (a Bulgarian u20 international) with 6 assists and 3 goals in 12 starts.
Player Contract worries
I am worried however about player contracts, many of our players were signed from either Serie C or D outfits on mostly one year deals – for many I am keen to extend their deals however around 70% of them are refusing to even discuss terms, this could mean a more substantial rebuild than I envisaged however I have tied up key centre back Maikol Benassi, Francesco Corapi and star striker Daniele Melandri on deals until June 2017.
Injury to Melandri hurting us
Two seperate injuries to our main striker Daniele Melandri has really cost us this season, possibly strange wording given how our debut season has gone so far however the team is so much better and fluid going forward with his intelligent play, decent technical attributes and ability to create and finish moves.
Just before the start of the season he sprained his ankle in training which meant him missing 6 weeks of first team action, Daniele then came back and started 10 games where he managed 7 goals, 3 assists and a very respectable average rating of 7.35 before he tore his hamstring in the Serie D cup quarter final victory and is now out for a further 3 to 4 months.
Aims for rest of the season
Given our impressive start I am hopeful that we can win the double in the Serie D and Serie D cup which would represent winning every trophy entered into. We are in the semi final of the cup competition and I feel that we are the strongest team left in the cup and in the league we currently hold a 5 point lead and given we have sorted our shyness in front of goal at the start of the season we should increase that lead.
I would like to purchase a striker in the transfer window, possibly on loan given the nature of the injury to Melandri and the poor quality of our other striking options, I have identified 18 year old striker Andrea Vassallo from Italian giants A.C Milan who is available on a loan deal. Further to that if I can find a midfield anchor man who interests me then I will make a move and possibly allow loanee Mel Taufer to play in a more natural playmaker role.
On a financial note, to date this season we have recorded a £496,443 profit this season so I’m slightly hopeful we will roughly break even when annual accounts are due at the end of the season.
Normally I will write up the half season update after the January transfer window however due to this being the first post and it being exactly half way stage of the league season I felt this was a good time to update.
I hope everyone who has read this has enjoyed this first post, if you wish to discuss anything then leave a comment or you can find me on twitter @johnmcintosh19 and I’ll be happy to discuss.