Published On: Fri, Nov 29th, 2013

Luigi De Canio’s False Revolution At Catania

De Canio - CataniaWith Catania lingering towards the bottom of the league in late October, the Etnei’s board took the decision to relieve Rolando Maran of his duty, moving immediately to ensure Luigi De Canio was in their dugout as the former QPR coach looked favourite to take over at their next opponents Sassuolo.

While it was not a decision that will have been taken lightly, it was a decision that may yet end up looking questionable. It was a decision that certainly begs the question of how much the board were expecting of Maran, whose stock had never been so high as in the summer. Its hard to believe his side became were irredeemably ruined within eight games.

That said, Catania’s recent past has been the best period in the club’s history. With Maran seemingly effortlessly replacing Vincenzo Montella, last year’s eighth position was the Elefanti’s equal best ever, and highest since 1964/65, and the current eight-season stint in Serie A has surpassed the six year run in the 1960s.

The Rossazzurri seemed to be on the rise and despite losing Francesco Lodi and Alejandro Gomez in the summer, they were able to bring in two players who were thought to be adequate replacements in Sebastian Leto and Panagiotis Tachtsidis. As it turns out, neither has yet set the world alight, which has left Catania looking a little inadequate, particularly up front.

Catania v ChievoWith such stability within the squad, it was assumed at the start of the season that Catania would resume pretty much where they left off. Maran tended to operate with a fairly flexible 4-3-3 system. After a few weeks, he had to try to improve his side’s poor form, particularly in terms of defence, where lapses were costing the team dear.

To that end he tried to switch his team around, but never found an adequate solution – his team had conceded  13 goals in the 8 games before his dismissal. It was, perhaps, this inability to improve upon his side’s glaring problems despite trying a number of different things, that cost Maran his job.

Without blinking, Luigi De Canio was installed in his place and tasked with igniting the Elefanti’s season. After a draw with Sassuolo that failed to confirm anything, Catania failed to make much of an impression in their next two games, with De Canio operating with a 3-4-1-2 against Juventus and a 4-5-1 against Napoli.

Neither improved things and, while a home victory against Udinese suggested things might be on the up for the Rossazzurri, they were brought down to earth with a bump as they conceded four in Turin for the second time in a month at the weekend, losing 4-1 at Torino this time.

Five games into his reign, and on the surface, nothing much seems to have changed under De Canio. Seven away games have now brought seven defeats, and nineteen goals conceded (against five scored) and nine points leaves them bottom, failing to rise out of the bottom three throughout the new coach’s reign. He, as Maran before him, is waiting for players to return to improve his fortunes and is yet to pick from a complete team.

Barrientos - CataniaDe Canio has led a team shorn of two of its best attacking threats in Pablo Barrientos and Gonzalo Bergessio at points, which has meant goals are naturally harder to come by. Defensively, when players are making individual errors in defence, it can be difficult to eradicate.

However, the work appeared to be taking root in the victory against Udinese – coming with a clean sheet. That was backed up with a performance against a Cerci-inspired Torino that was abject, the Granata having to do little but wait for Catania to gift them goals as they cruised to a 4-1 victory.

All that said, its tricky to get a benchmark on how Luigi De Canio has affected the Elefanti since he took charge, but his return of four points from five games is certainly enough to suggest that Rolando Maran would have been incapable of matching it.

What isn’t in doubt is that the Rossazzurri have had a difficult set of fixtures to start the season. Even though clearly not in the best form, their three home games against bottom-half sides have brought five points, with only a rampant Inter side leaving the Stadio Angelo Massimino with a win so far. Obviously, failing to win a single point on the road will never bring rewards, but three of Catania’s seven away games have been at sides in the top five.

In short, though it would be a surprise to see the current Elefanti line-up finish eighth this season, there’s no reason De Canio can’t lead them up the table. If he does so, credit would go to Maran for assembling the team.

However, if he fails, it will be De Canio’s failure.

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