Continuing my occasional series looking at the Rossoblu, it’s time to gaze over at the city of Two Towers again as times have been changing and players going in and out.
Firstly, we must bid a sad farewell to Lazaros Cristodopoulos, much to the relief of the companies who manufacture the lettering for the Bologna shirt. Lazaros has gone to Verona where one can assume he will enjoy a frustrating season as the Mastini fail to live up to the expectations lifted by the last campaign.
I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Roberto Zanzi has left the club, replaced by Filippo Fusco. Bologna are actually a going concern in Serie B now, too – their entry was granted, the threat of demotion to Serie D (as has been effected on Siena) was not exercised on the Rossoblu.
It was a dark few days, and the future looked anything but bright, indeed it still does not, but the club have pulled through. While still crippled by last year’s wage promises, and surprisingly enough bonuses, the eyes are cast forwards not back.
Those eyes going forwards are yet to gaze upon the departures of Michael Antonsson, Panagiotisi Kone or Rolando Bianchi, though it is surely only a matter of time. Bianchi, it has been revealed, had an operation on his foot at the start of the summer, removing a Morton’s neuroma – something that can press so hard on the inter-metatarsal nerves that those who are suffering can struggle to put their foot down for the pain, or even put a shoe on.
Bologna also have a coach now; Diego Perez has completed his coaching badges and – though you may well know him from a different red and blue, that of Cagliari, has been charged with getting the red and blue of Bologna promoted to Serie A; something that the bookies rank them as second favourites to do as champions – their 9/2 being somewhat longer than Catania’s 5/4.
That ranking comes without any experience of how the Rossoblu’s multiple new signings will fit into the system, as a surplus of midfielders seems to be fleshing out the squad now. The first pre-season game, as it happens, will took place on Saturday 26th, against Zocca. Don’t know Zocca? You’re not alone. They’re below Serie D, below Eccelenza, below even Promozione, but there they are; Bologna baeat them 4-0.
Even the Bologna of 2013/14 won an early pre-season friendly by at least 10 clear goals, and Zocca are operating at a similar level. They should not have provided much of a test even for a team who failed to score against themselves last season.
There is, following that game, and a similar test against Ozzanese, a game against Sassuolo. The Neroverde are a shrewd test for Bologna to face – having been the team most likely to be relegated last season, their survival means they are the benchmark that the Rossoblu need to reach in order to achieve their aim.
Casarini, Djokovic, Troianiello, Matuzalem, Zuculini, Laribi, Pazienza, Perez, Kone, Pulzetti, Ibson and Yaisien look enough to choose from in a midfield that often ran to five men last season.
The arrivals of Matuzalem and Zuculini are the most notable there, but certainly Perez doesn’t look as if he’ll struggle to ensure the link up play between a defence that should be ok and an attack that may well contain Robert Acquafresca.
Whereas that might be an indictment should the team be in Serie A, there is enough in Acquafresca’s game (indeed, enough in his game with Perez, for he was with the Uruguayan when he flourished at Cagliari) to suggest he might be something of a success.
That doesn’t negate the need for a goalscorer, however and for all Fusco’s good work, in the middle of the park, the top and tail of the side need some working on. So where does that leave Bologna?
They still exist, which is progress in the last month.
They are allowed to compete in Serie B, which is progress in the last month.
The ineffective Zanzi has gone, replaced by the busy bee Fusco, which is progress in the last month.
His work has ensured a number of new faces, which is progress in the last month.
The Rossoblu are second favourites for Serie B as it stands. Personally, I’d have them lower than that, but the bookies know what they’re doing. After a season of disappointment, the green shoots of expectation are beginning to sprout again.