"Bread and Football" is what we eat - U.S. Foggia -

Zemaniac

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Jun 18, 2010
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A city living for football: this is Foggia, a little province capital in Southern Italy.
A football team in disgrace: this is U.S. Foggia, descendend into **** in a just few years
.




The very big problem is that our supporters have seen one of the best football ever, the one made by the Czech Zdenek Zeman, who brought Foggia almost in Europe during the early '90s. That's why they are often critic and skeptic about every newly-appointed manager.





Foggia is sadly lying in the "Lega Pro - 1^st Division" (former "Serie C1"), the Italian third series, having lost three playoffs in-a-row from 2007. The president, Tullio Capobianco, is giving up, so this season Foggia will just try to avoid relegation in 2^nd Division. The supporters are in riot because they have already underwent too many humiliations for years, and want their club to try to get into the "Serie B" for the fourth time.





But Capobianco was clear: limited finance, wage control and hot prospects are the club's priorities. Therefore he is looking for a young, highly-motivated manager, who could be even be liked from his supporters (that would be quite a miracle!)... and what about signing a manager from Foggia? That would make things easier: people would go to the stadium and buy season tickets, there will be no risks of hiring a mercenary...
 
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raphiiic

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Jun 15, 2010
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Wow. Fresh look and best of luck. Looking forward to seing this club playing against likes of Intermilan and AS Roma once it reaches the Serie A. Will be following..
 

Zemaniac

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Jun 18, 2010
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I couldn't even dream to manage my favourite team...

It took me some seconds to understand that Capobianco, the chairman, had phoned me to check my availability.

"We're looking for a young, local manager, and you did well with your amateur team last year... we like the way you make your boys play. Next season wll be hard, you'll have to find some good youths to avoid relegation" he told me.

It was an offer I couldn't even think to decline, leading the "Satanelli" is a dream for everyone who is from Foggia.

People had mixed feelings towards me: the local press was skeptic, but I had known many supporters for years, so I knew I could count on my "Curva". I always tought they are the 12th man on the field.

The 4-3-3 is my favourite tactic, inspired by Zeman's 4-3-3, which is a true Legend here. The problem is to find some good players to make it succesful. This is where the transfer window comes in help...
 

Zemaniac

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Chairman Capobianco welcomed me in "Pino Zaccheria", the local stadium. He explained me something I alread knew: in the last years the "Zac" was able to contain up to 24,000 supporters, but, due to a recent Italian law, there is a maximum amount of sold tickets allowed. The facility needs some "security" upgrades to cope with the law, but, unfortunately for us, this is a Mayor's matter, as the City of Foggia is the owner of the Zaccheria.


"You should know, Alessio, that the Mayor isn't going to let any upgrade...the City is full of debts, hundreds of thousands euro, and they cannot afford any expense...We are going to have at most 7500 supporters. It's sad that we cannot even expand the stadium on our own." told me Capobianco as we walked on the pitch.


I also knew my assistant manager, Fabio Pecchia, former Juventus player, who played his last two years here in Foggia before retiring and becoming a manager.
He's older than me, but I wanted him to know who is in charge to avoid any misunderstanding. In my mind, the team has to follow only one, charismatic, man, and that's me! I trusted him though, giving him the task of training the Reserve team. We soon agreed on a Friendly match to check the players' status.
 

Zemaniac

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Jun 18, 2010
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Season 2009/10
"Something unexpected"

After having played my first Friendly team, I focused on the transfer window. With some sacrifice, Capobianco told me I had €300,000 available for the market.

Michael Mifsud, on a free transfer, was my first objective. He's a fast striker, 164cm "tall", whose main role is to move into channels and try to avoid the offside trap. His signing was vital to our ambitions and I welcomed him as I never did before! I soon gave him the nickname of "Corto Maltese", which stands for "short man from Malta", and he really appreciated it... There already was a strong feeling between us. He is one of the Malta national team stars.



Then there were some other signings, youths on a free transfer, but I also bought three other important players, two defenders, and an attacking jolly.

First one was Jon Moya, an experienced 26-years-old Basque Center Back, bought from a Spanish club for €90,000. He would take the command of the defensive line and be one of the most important player.

Then came Fabrizio Cacciatore, a young Wing Back, for €110,000 from Serie A outfit Sampdoria.


Finally, I signed on a free transfer Eder Baù, and Italian Winger, who would make a good couple with Mario Salgado, the Cilean Foggia leading star.



The season began with the Italian Cup matches. We won 4-0 the first one against an amateur team and then went to Ancona to play the local Serie B team.

Ancona - Foggia

Even if we were considered underdogs, Foggia played very well, taking the lead in the second half with Corto Maltese, who had already scored on his debut. But football is cruel, and, during the last minute of injury-time, Salvatore Mastronunzio, a former Foggia player now playing for Ancona, scored the goal who destroyed our hopes of winning in the regular time.
Teams were very tired and penalties were the only solution. Our first penalty was shot by Corto Maltese, who missed it. Despite our goalkeeper's efforts, Ancona managed to score all their penalties and we were eliminated from the cup.


I spent many hours in the next days with Corto Maltese, making him understand that my trust in him was as strong as before that damned penalty.

The good thing was that we could prepare our first league matches without caring about any other competition...


As a matter of fact, the league started very well, with some good results, so that we soon were in the first positions, becoming first at about November. Corto Maltese was scoring many goals, and both Baù and Salgado were playing very well. Our midfield was something that could get improved, but the defense was the problem.
We were too vulnerable to fast counter-attacks, but even in slow actions we suffered the opponents. Jon Moya had much to work and our keeper, the Brazilian Super Santos, saved us many times. I bought the 17-years-old Super Santos from Fiorentina for just €7,000.

During the winter transfer window, we didn't buy any player, as we were 1^st in the league with some advantage. We only signed some youths on free transfer, such as the Portuguese striker Alvaro Jalò and the Italian striker Simone Sudosi, who would be tutored by Corto Maltese.

The second part of the season was a bit more difficult but at the end, we managed to win the league and be directly promoted in Serie B!



People got crazy for joy, as we finally left the **** of Serie C, celebrating with the team in the stadium after the final whistle of the last match against Reggiana.
Our supporters were just fantastic and I was too happy to be able to tell you.

Chairman Capobianco was also overjoyed and offered me a new contract with the duration of 3 years (until June 2013) and a better wage. I decided not to accept the wage increase, keeping it as lowest as possible in order to show how much I love this club, and signed the new deal.

---------- Post added at 07:22 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:32 PM ----------

Season 2010/11
"Financial management"


Avoiding the playoffs let us be on the market one month before some other teams, and we looked for players whose contracts were expired on June 2010.
We signed 13 players on a free transfer, looking for some hot prospects. The best ones were:

Alen Stevanovic (former Inter Milan): AMC, Serbian U21 vice-captain.
Adriano Siragusa (former Palermo): DC who I already took on loan this season.
Tomas Pekhart (former Tottenham): ST, Czeck U21 vice-captain.
Andrea Luci (former Ascoli): 25-years-old MC, I couldn't understand why he was released from his team! Very nice player.
Silvano Raggio Garibaldi (former Genoa): MC, young but influent.
Frank Fielding (former Blackburn): GK, he is going to be my first team Goalkeeper.
Roberto Baronio (former Lazio): very experienced MC.

Alen Stevanovic:


Tomas Pekhart:


Andrea Luci:


Silvano Raggio Garibaldi:


Frank Fielding:


Roberto Baronio:


I also bought some players:

Marco Verratti, €600,000 (halved between Pescara and Fiorentina): AMC who doesn't need any presentation, wonderkid.


Sadick Adams, from Atletico Madrid, €180,000: very fast, young striker.


Some players were sold for an overall income of about €450,000, which let me not be in debt even if expenses were more than income (I didn't waste all the previous budget).
I was happy for the limited costs of the summer transfer window, taking a big risk. Avoiding relegation will be very hard, even though I'm confident that we will fill the quality gap with tactic organization. We won't leave our 4-3-3 but we will keep going with an aggresive way of playing.

We had the lowest average age of the league, only 21, but I always thought that fitness and pace is the most important thing in football, so I was happy to lead an army of ambitious boys!


The first official press conference of the season I was asked by one journalist:
"Mister Romito, Foggia played very offensive last year because the quality of your team let you do this... but now you are going to face much bigger teams like Parma, Torino and Bari, whose players are on another level. Your defence conceded many goals in Serie C, and you didn't sign any other experienced center or wing back. You will meet strikers like Rolando Bianchi, Alberto Paloschi and so on...Who is going to defend?"

My answer was: "The opponent!"




The first official match was Foggia - Cesena (Italian Cup), which was decided by penaties. 10 players had to shoot before declaring a winner, and we managed to be concentrated enough and win 9-8! Thrilling penalty kicks!




Then we challenged AlbinoLeffe, beginning my personal quarrel with this club. We lost 2-1 with our recetly-signed Federico Masi, a young DC, scoring an own-goal. But the defeat was deserved, we had to blend a new squad and needed some more practice.



We began the league hosting the recently-relegated Parma, a fantastic team with fantastic players like Alberto Paloschi, rumored by the press as the new Filippo Inzaghi.


Foggia - Parma

As the team walked onto the pitch, our fans made an outstanding coreography with red-and-black smoke and many torches.
We couldn't even think that Silvano Raggio Garibaldi could score after just 4 minutes, but it happened, and the stadium blowed in a loud celebration!
But just three minutes after our defence slept and Paloschi scored, taking us back to reality. We needed the best Corto Maltese to win this match, and the striker managed to find the net during the 40^th minute. In the second half we suffered Parma's attacks but we conquered our first three points!



But this was an illusion. We won only other 3 matches until the end of December, drawing 3 times and losing 12 matches, five of them in-a-row from November to December, sadly lying 19th (on 22 teams), with the real risk to get directly relegated. That was our most difficult period. 15 points in 19 matches is definitely a bad result and some journalists began thinking I could be sacked. But chairman Capobianco assured me that he trusted me and never thought of signing another manager.
So we looked to sign some quality players (on free transfer) to make the team more competitive.

We contacted the AMC Dare Vrsic, from Slovenia, who accepted to help us save the Serie B.


Then the defensive jolly Ritchie De Laet, former Manchester United, who was happy to enjoy first team football again, and David Mounard, former Foggia player, who was never forgotten by our supporters and warmly welcomed back.

De Laet:


David Mounard with Foggia shirt:


But the turning point was signing Ernesto Javier Chevantòn, the 30-years-old striker who played for Lecce, AS Monaco and Sevilla. I was overjoyed when I knew he accepted our contract.



Every part of the team was stronger now. We could even try to avoid the playout (played between the 18th and the 19th teams) if we were lucky.

Foggia - Torino

The first match in January was very important, because, as you already know, we lost the previous 5 games. Torino was 2^nd in the league table and one of the favourite teams to be promoted.
I told the lads that losing today was not important, but I wanted them to spit blood on the pitch and run as devils until they would find their hearts in their fists.
We hugged all together before leaving the dressing room, watching each other in the eyes, and swearing that we would show our supporters that we know how to honour the shirt we wear.
I was proud of them, they looked on fire and very motivated, altough a bit nervous.
We attacked all-round from the first minute, and managed to score with Andrea Luci and Baù in the first half. Then in the second Corto Maltese and Vrsic (on his debut) took us to a fantastic 4-0. Rolando Bianchi scored 4-1 but the match was ours!




Our supporters were thrilled and so was I. I clearly felt that from now on, we didn't have to fear anyone but ourselves.
 
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Zemaniac

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Jun 18, 2010
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The January transfer window was very good for us. Many bigger teams made some offers for our best youth players and we raised about 2 million euro! Co-owning is a fantastic thing, as you can sell "half" of the player who still plays for your team, though. Chairman Capobianco was very happy with me because we actually solved the financial problems we had had in the past. In the summer co-owning is decided between the two clubs, but I was confident that they were not going to buy my players, as they already "stronger" ones (even if mine are always the best!)



We played much better the next matches, confidence was much higher and our results were satisfying, managing to avoid relegation before the last fixtures.
One of the last match was Foggia - Bari, against one of our fiercest rivals. The guys won 3-0 and the whole city was proud of them. And so was I.

We finished the season beating Torino again, conquering an outstanding 11th place!






PS. Next season you will get better-detailed reports, as I started writing the story late in the game! Thanks to all who will be following!
 
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