On the 3rd December, Lecce tumbled to a 4-2 defeat at Napoli – their third in a row, leaving them on 8 points after 13 games, and without a win at home and, perhaps more importantly, six points from safety. The defeat cost Eusebio di Francesco his job, and he was replaced the next day by Sersi Cosmi – a colourful character, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Last week, that same Pugliese ragbag travelled to Catania, and left with 3 points – taking their season tally to 34, after what is now 32 games. Times have clearly changed. The first change is obvious; they’re winning points now – 1 defeat in 11 games, and that at the San Siro against Milan, has brought 18 points, but just taking the two periods as a whole Pre-Cosmi and Post-Cosmi provides a rather wonderful comparison.
Here’s the graph you’ll have been expecting even this early, with the two periods pretty obvious in their disparity at either end, and the season average in the middle.
That’s over double since the arrival of Cosmi, which would be a miracle in and of itself, but even with that added impetus, Lecce are two points adrift at the foot of Serie A – having made five back on Genoa, their current closest rivals, since Cosmi came in. I can illustrate that better. Working on current ratios, here is Lecce’s (full) season projected both with and without Cosmi in charge.
Now, I don’t want to labour the point – actually, I do to a certain extent – but wow. The reasons for this are, I would say, more than adequately discussed in this post by Paolo Bandini (I would say the switch to a 5-3-2, which took a little while to bed in, is probably the most important factor, but the recent good form of Luis Muriel can’t be discounted)
So here we are now, with Lecce inside the relegation zone by 2 points. I want to know how likely the miracle is to be completed and how likely we are to see my dream, of a Serie A containing both Lecce and Torino in 2012/13 – I may tackle the Granata’s promotion prospects at a later date.
So I’ve done a projected table – one with the 38 games expanded from the current 32, except in the cases of teams having changed their manager during the season, when I have extrapolated the records of the newest managers’ runs at the club (obviously, I hope Lecce will prosper) instead of the seasons as a whole. Well, indeed.
By the way, I know the Italian league doesn’t primarily separate teams on Goal Difference, as with the English leagues, but not all the head-to-head games between the teams are played. As it happens, Lecce and Genoa HAVE faced each other twice each, and both games were draws. The second tie-breaker is goal difference, which would favour the Giallorossi. Will Sersi Cosmi lead Lecce to safety? My view says, its too close to call, but to even get this close is a triumph indeed.