Bringing Parma Back to the Top of Football!


Oct 14, 2022
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I am sitting on the terrace of my apartment in Novi Sad, enjoying the view of the river. I smoke a cigarette and think about my career. I wasn't a big star on the field, but I managed to get my coaching license and make my dream come true. I love football and I want to prove myself as a coach.


I have three offers on my desk that I printed out from my email. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. The first is from China, where a huge salary and a luxurious life await me. The other is from Spain, where I am called by Deportivo, a club that was once the champion of Spain and has a rich history. The third is from Italy, where I am waiting for Parma, a club that is trying to return to Serie A.

I decide to decline the offer from China. Although the money is tempting, I know I won't find real football there. I don't want to sell my passion for material things. I crumple the paper with the offer and throw it from the terrace. As the paper falls, I think about who to choose: Deportivo or Parma.

I have two offers left: Deportivo and Parma. It's hard for me to decide. I remember how they played against Milan in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2003/04, how they created a sensation and beat them 4:0 in the second leg at Riazor, how they had great players like Valeron and Tristan. It was a great game... I still don't understand how they managed to finish in the third league. However, after taking a closer look at their situation, I realized that the club is in chaos. They have no money, no goals, no future. I don't want to be part of a failed project. I also crumple their paper and throw it from the terrace.

I have only one offer left: Parma. A club that was once a giant of Italian football, that won trophies and had legends like Buffon, Cannavaro and Crespo. A club that is trying to return to Serie A. A club that has soul and tradition. A club that is currently in Serie B and has big ambitions.

But am I right for the job? Do I have enough experience and knowledge? Will I be able to handle the pressure and expectations? Will I be able to make a difference? I wonder all that as I look at the offer from Parma.

I light another cigarette and try to make a decision. I feel butterflies in my stomach, like when I first stepped on the field as a player. I know that this is my moment, my chance that I must not miss. I haven't even finished my cigarette when I pick up my phone and dial the number of the club management. I hear a voice on the other side: "Pronto, chi parla?" I speak in broken Italian: “Buongiorno, sono Mister Serb. Accept your offer.” I hear shouts of joy on the other end of the line. Mister very happy to join them and we can't wait for you in Parma. They booked my plane ticket and said they were expecting me in two days.

I feel I made the right choice. I want to help them get back to the top, to restore their faith and hope, to create a new team that will be the pride of the city. I have a plan to do it and I believe in myself.

The morning dawned. I am packing my bags and getting ready for the trip. I am going to the airport in Belgrade, leaving my Novi Sad behind. I feel nostalgia, but also excitement. This is my chance to make my dream come true. I also carry brandy in my bag, to toast with new colleagues and friends.

The president of the club met me at the airport and took me to the restaurant. There he told me the history of the club and its problems. He told me that Parma had failed due to mismanagement and had narrowly escaped being shut down. He told me that they had no money for reinforcements and that I had to work with what I had. He told me that the club's only hope is in the young players who have come out of their academy, which is one of the best in Italy. He told me that the goal is clear: to return to Serie A as soon as possible.

We finished lunch and headed for the stadium. As we drove, I looked at the city and felt its atmosphere. I heard that Parma is a city of culture and gastronomy, and that there is a lot to see and try. I felt curious and hungry.

When we arrived at the stadium, I stopped for a moment and took a deep breath. I saw the stadium of Parma, Ennio Tardini, which was the scene of many battles. Witness to Parma's many successes. The home of many legends such as Buffon, Capello, Crespo, Veron... Even as a child I dreamed of playing for Parma, and now I lead it, now I am its manager..."

I was excited and honored to be a part of that story. I couldn't wait for the first game and to meet the fans, who are known for their passion and energy. I knew he would support me and give me the strength to lead Parma to success.

I go down to the pitch to meet the players and immediately notice a familiar face: Gianluigi Buffon, the legendary goalkeeper who returned to Parma after playing for Juventus for many years. Although he is in his late years, his charisma and authority are undeniable. I greet him warmly and thank him for remaining loyal to the club.

I gather all the players around me and tell them what I expect from them: order, work and discipline. I tell them that I believe in their potential and that we will do great things together. Buffon approaches me and says: "Mister, you can count on us." We are all ready to do our best for Parma. You are our new commander and I am your first officer.” His words buy me and I know immediately that he will be the captain next season.

I feel I made the right choice. I feel that I am in the right place. I feel that a new era is starting for Parma. I feel confident and ready for the challenges that await me. Tomorrow is our first practice and I can't wait to get started.
I was exhausted from the journey and the excitement. I met my new players, among whom was the legendary Gianluigi Buffon, who will be my captain and right-hand man. I arrived at the hotel and threw myself on the bed, but sleep eluded me. I was thinking about tomorrow's training and how to show authority and vision. The president of the club recommended that we play 4-2-3-1, but I had other ideas. I wanted to try a 4-3-3, to have more control in the middle of the pitch. But before that, I had to see how the players were doing and how they were getting along on the pitch. I decided to do a slightly different workout tomorrow, more focused on conversation and getting to know each other than physical effort.

I got up early, while the sun was still low in the sky. I drank coffee on the terrace and lit a cigarette. I felt like I was in a movie. A long time ago, there was a new adventure and a new challenge. I headed to the stadium two hours before practice, to get ready and see the pitch. I was met at the stadium by Buffon, who was already ready for work.

They all arrived on time, which made me happy. I greeted them and asked them to sit in a circle around me. I wanted to address them before we start work.

"Good morning, guys. I'm glad you all came on time. I want to talk about our goals and plans for the new season," I told them.

Yesterday I told you that I ask you to work, order and discipline. I believe that we should be united and a team, I will never pretend to be the big boss. This is also a big challenge for me. We all want to return to Serie A as soon as possible and I hope we can do it this season", I told them.

I wasn't sure of what I said, but I was full of confidence. I saw that the players trust me and are ready to follow me.

"That's why I decided to do a slightly different training session today. We will not bother much with physical exercises, but we will talk more and get to know each other. I want to hear your opinions, your wishes, your problems. I want to know what motivates you, what scares you, what makes you happy. I want us to create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation. That is why we will spend the first 40 minutes talking, and then we will check the fitness of the players", I told them.

They all nodded and began to introduce themselves one by one. I listened to them carefully and tried to remember their names, positions, characteristics. Some were shy, some were open, some were funny. All were interesting in their own way.
After the talk, we went to the field and did some warm-up and stretching exercises. Then I divided them into two groups and gave them the task of playing indoor soccer in half of the field. I wanted to see how they move, how they pass, how they shoot, how they defend.

Adrián Bernabé, the young Spanish midfielder who came from Manchester City, immediately stood out in training. He was fast, technically sound and intelligent in the game. He was followed by Gabriel Charpentier, the French striker who was a real killer in front of the goal. He had a great sense of space and time and knew how to finish the action. The other side was dominated by Franco Vázquez, an experienced Argentine playmaker who played for a long time in Sevilla. He was the brain of the team, he dictated the pace and created chances.
"It's good, guys, sit down and rest a little," I told them after 20 minutes of play.

Everyone gathered around me and took water bottles.
"I'd like to talk about tactics," I told them.
"I want to tell you that we will certainly play attacking football in Serie B, football with more goals. You should never be satisfied with a tie or a minimum lead. You should be hungry for wins and goals. During the First World War, Serbia had Duke Živojin Mišić who said: 'One who wants is stronger than two who must'. I want you to want and want to win", I told them.

Everyone looked at me with attention and interest.

"From tomorrow we will start practicing short passes because I want us to dominate in possession, to dictate the tempo. I want us to press hard and score a lot of goals. We will run a lot, we will fight for every ball, we will raise the level of the game and we will succeed", I told them.

Everyone stood up and started clapping and shouting. I felt that we had taken the first step towards success. I felt that we became a team.

"Society, that's it for today. Go take a shower and rest. See you tomorrow at the same time", I told them.

Everyone left satisfied and in high spirits. I stayed on the field with Buffon, who approached me and offered his hand.

"Mister, I congratulate you on an excellent training session. I see that you have a clear idea of how you want us to play and that you have managed to motivate the players. I think you made a good impression on them," Buffon told me.

We went to the locker room together, talking about football and life. I felt we became friends.
The first training session was successful. I got to know the team, saw their qualities and flaws, conveyed my philosophy and goals to them. But I knew that it was just the beginning and that there was still a lot of work and challenges ahead of us. I knew that I would spend the rest of the day in my office or in my apartment, thinking out in detail the tactics that I would present to the players tomorrow. I wanted to be ready for the first friendly matches that the president of the club had scheduled for us.

I was happy that one of them was in Croatia, a country that I love and that reminds me of my Serbia.

After the first training, we continued with work and preparations for the new season. At the trainings, everyone performed excellently, they were motivated, obedient and in a good mood. We played four friendly matches and won all four. I knew that it was important for confidence, but also that there were real challenges ahead of us. Our first official match was in the first round of the Italian Cup. We played away from Torino. I didn't know what to expect from that game, because Torino was a stronger and more experienced team than us. But my players blew me away. We scored a goal in the first minute, after a great action and an assist from Vasquez, Estevez knocked the ball into the net. I was overjoyed.

We gave a football lesson to the Torino players, who tried to stop us with rough play and fouls. They got five yellow cards, but they didn't manage to threaten our goal. In the end, it was 1-0 for us, and we qualified for the second round of the cup. I was overjoyed and proud of my team.
The first match in Serie B was against Cittadella, which was one of the favorites for promotion. We had confidence after the win against Torino, and we played bravely and attacking. We won 1-0, with a goal from Estevez, who played brilliantly in the middle of the field.

But then Reggina taught us how to play football and beat us 5-2. It was our first and heaviest defeat of the season. We had no chance against them, they were better in everything. They didn't let us breathe, they pressed us high and constantly created chances. We were powerless and clueless. We conceded five goals and scored only two on the counter. It was a painful experience, but I knew we must not give up.

I spoke to the players after the game and tried to encourage them.
"Guys, I know you are disappointed and angry about this defeat. So am I. But we must not let that break us or discourage us. This is just one of many games that await us in the season. We have to forget about her and focus on the next one. We have to believe in ourselves and our team. We have to work even harder and smarter, and fix the mistakes we made."

We continued with good results in the following games. We played attacking and attractive football, dominated possession and opportunities, scored many goals and conceded few. We were top of the table. We showed that we are the best team in the league and that we deserve to return to Serie A. Everything we learned in training, short passes, more goals, high pressing, gave results. My players were fantastic, they played as one and gave their all on the pitch. I was proud of them and of our work.

We tied 15 games without defeat. Then ours beat Palermo.

In the very next game, the last one in 2022, we played against Bari. It was an opportunity to get back on the winning track and enter the new year as leaders of Serie B. And we did it. We beat them 4-0, with goals from Charpentier, Tavares, Bernabe and Estevez. It was a great game, in which we showed character and quality.

We entered the new year as the first in Serie B. We knew that only half the season was behind us. We had 13 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses. The most goals were given by Gabriel Charpentier 12 and the most assists by Dennis Mann who plays fantastically on the right side.

I wondered how many assists I would have if he started every game... Because when we play a formation inspired by Mourinho's Porto 4 back 3 in midfield 1 playmaker behind 2 strikers we have no room for him. But we have already said that we are not interested in special awards, but that the goal is placement in Serie A.

In the second round of the Italian Cup, we played against Spezia. A difficult team, which played in Serie A. I knew it would be a difficult game, but also an opportunity to prove ourselves against another strong opponent. I decided to play with the same tactics I used to beat Torino, because I thought that was the best way to surprise them.

It was an interesting game, full of goals. They even managed to take the lead twice, but our fighting players managed to reach that score twice and turn it into 4-2. Then, in the 86th minute, they managed to reduce the score and the game ended with 4-3 for us.

In the draw of the pairs of the third round of the Italian Cup, we drew the great Inter. I knew that it would be the most difficult game of the season, but also the biggest opportunity to prove ourselves. How we will get through that game, how we will prepare our tactics, remains to be seen in a few days.

In January, we also have a football market. Who should we bring? Stanko Jurić wants to play more, and he is on the transfer list. Also, defender Yordan Osorio wants to start more games, but he only gets a chance from the bench, so we plan to sell him as well. Whom to bring, we have a long January to scout and look for.

In the video clip you can hear this story, see how I edited the conversation with Buffon, see the tactics I use, all the results... I hope you like the story... I think it's a little different from the others and it's interesting in itself. What do you think? Write in the comments

Before us was a game with Inter in the cup, which represented a big challenge for us. Even though we were not favorites, I decided not to stress the players and focus on our game. The night before the game, I thought for a long time about the strategy we could use to play against Inter. I was aware that we were facing a team that once had great players like Cambies, Toldo and Martins. I felt honored that we will be playing against such a club that has achieved great success.

While I was thinking about Inter's past and the names that used to play for that team, I got a call. The phone rang, and an unknown number was on the screen. I decided to answer, and on the other end of the line was Dejan Stanković, the legend of Inter. I was excited that a football legend like him heard about us and wished us luck. We talked about our results and he wished me the best. I thanked him for his kind words and wished him luck in managing Sampdoria.

Thank you, Mister Serb, your support means a lot to me - I told him.
You're welcome, Mister Serb, you're a great coach and you deserve success - he told me.
Thank you once again. I hope to see you soon - I told him.
I hope too. Good luck tomorrow - he told me.
Good luck to you too - I told him.

I hung up and felt even more motivated for the game. I knew we had a chance to pull off a surprise and beat Inter.

The day of the match against Inter came. I decided on a 4-3-3 formation with which we achieved good results. Although Inter were favourites, we went into half-time with the score 1-1. I was proud of our players because they fought bravely. At halftime I encouraged them, I told them that I believe in them and that we have a chance to win. However, in the second half, Inter played even stronger and they beat us with a score of 4-1.
I knew that this defeat must not affect our team. We were all aware that Inter was a very strong opponent. Our focus was on the continuation of the season in Serie B, where we were the leaders. We had to recover from the defeat and continue to win. However, we had a few bad results in January. We were unable to bring in reinforcements due to financial constraints. The only transfer we managed to complete was the loan of left back Hugo Bueno from Wolverhampton. We sold Yordan Osorio, who wanted to leave the club due to dissatisfaction with the playing time. Stanko Jurić was also dissatisfied with the playing time, but no one was interested in him.

We continued with bad results in February, but I didn't let that discourage us. I called a meeting with the players and motivated them to get back on the winning track. I changed the tactics and the players reacted positively. We won a few in a row and got back on a winning streak. At the end of the season, we managed to take third place, but we didn't directly qualify for Serie A. We had to play a play-off against Bari and Como.
We played very well in the play-off, we beat Bari 5-1, and then Como in the first game with 2-1. We knew it wasn't over, there was another game, the game of the season. Even though we had the advantage, we had to stay focused. Como attacked, we defended, we also had our chances. But Franco Vázquez scored his last goal in Parma in the 90th minute. He did not want to extend his contract and in January agreed to continue his career in Argentina at Boca Junior. But he said goodbye in a special way, scoring the goal that brought us back to Serie A. There was a touching farewell from him, but also a big celebration with the fans.

We had the league's top scorer, Gabriel Charpentier, who scored 31 goals in the season, 29 of which were in the league. He broke the record that dates back to 2000, when Hernan Crespo scored 28 goals in a season. The best assister was Dennis Mann with 12 assists. The president of the club congratulated me on my success and expressed the hope that we will stay in Serie A next season. However, he made it clear to me that we cannot expect a large transfer budget.

The season ended, I packed my things and returned to Serbia. I couldn't wait to smell my Danube, to walk along the quay in my Novi Sad and to drink coffee at the Petrovaradin fortress. The fortress has become synonymous with the Exit music festival, but in me it evoked memories of love and tambourines. I remembered the moment I kissed a girl there for the first time.

I enjoyed my vacation, hanging out with friends with whom I used to go crazy in bars until dawn. One day I went for coffee with my friend in our favorite pub. We talked about anything and everything, and of course about football. He told me he was proud of me and supported me in my career. I thanked him and told him that I was glad he had such a friend. We drank coffee and brandy, and then I noticed that I was out of cigars. I told him to wait for me, that I would come soon, that I was only going to get cigars. I went to the nearest newsstand and saw the front page of the sports newspaper:

Bazdar? He is an excellent player, young and talented. But you think you have a chance to bring him? Partizan is asking for 6 million euros for him, and you don't even have half of that money - he told me.
I know that, but maybe we could negotiate with them. "Maybe we could offer them one of our players as part of the deal," I told him.
Who would that be? - he asked me.
Well… I don't know yet, I have to think. But I think you could use us as reinforcements - I told him.
Well, good luck with that. But don't rush, think carefully before you make a decision - he told me.
Of course, of course. Thank you for the advice - I told him.
I paid the bill and said goodbye to him. I told him that I would talk to him soon and that I would let him know what I had decided. I went to my apartment where I spent the night analyzing Bazdar. I watched his YouTube clips, read his Transfermarkt profile, studied his stats and ratings. He was a great player, fast, technically sound, penetrating, efficient. His skills would certainly fit into our team. I had to devote myself to analysis and research in order to make the right decision.
The end of the second season.
What do you think about this story? Would Bazdar be a good fit for Parma? How would he fare in Serie A? Write me your opinion in the comments.