Drew Farmer Date:13th January 2012 at 12:45am
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In his first game in charge of the Grifone Pasquale Marino would have expect his team to display a performance more fitting of a team chasing a top six finish. What he got was the same lacklustre play that Genoa showcased under former manager Alberto Malesani.

This was also a revenge match of sorts. Cagliari are now led by Genoa’s former manager Davide Ballardini. A man that did a competent job with the Grifone leading them to a 10-place finish a year ago, but as he’s bound to do President Enrico Preziosi had higher aspirations for his club. Those same aspirations are what got Malesani sacked though an up and down first half of the season didn’t help; nor did a 6-1 thumping at the hands of Napoli.

Following the hire of Marino Genoa purchased striker Alberto Gilardino to remedy their scoring whoas. Meanwhile, they sent strikers Sebastian Ribas and Andrea Caracciolo out on loan to Sporting Lisbon and Novara respectively, to make room for the Italian. Genoa now have 32 players out on loan which includes Robert Aquafresco and Mattia Destro.

Destro has five goals in 10 matches for Siena this year and begs the question why he was loaned out in the first place and the likes of Ze Eduardo, Caracciolo and Lucas Pratto have been preferred. Though the club needed a quality goal scorer like Gilardino, a move that surprised a few, the club desperately need defenders and this was another match that proved it.

Marino debuted as manager with a 4-3-3 formation. Something Malesani used on a few occasions during his spell at the club. Though the formation wasn’t the best during his time it proved disastrous for Marino. There’s simply not enough protection for the slow and incompetent backline, and though it may have been harsh Emiliano Moretti’s 66th minute red card was another example of the lack of pace the defenders possess.

Marino’s decision to not use Alexander Merkel, one of the club’s best players this year, until the 82nd minute was utterly ridiculous while preferring to use Kevin Constant and Cristobal Jorquera. Marino gave Juraj Kucka the nod in midfield despite missing much of December due to injury. The Slovakian only last 35 minutes, and continued his consistent underperforming.

There was simply nothing good to take from this match on the Genoa side. The team has now given up the fourth most goals in Serie A, and Marino must figure out how to get the team to focus better in both the opening 15 minutes of both halves. The Rossoblu have given up 11 goals total in this time frame which shows a lack of being prepared.

Genoa’s discipline record has been equally poor this season and is a direct reflection of the poor defending the club has displayed. They’ve already been issue six red cards in 17 games. Surely, Preziosi will open his cheque book again this transfer window and buy a defender though a competent full back or centre back will be hard to find. He’s already shelled out around $10 million for Gilardino and unless he sells one of his underperforming “stars” it is unlikely he can find a defender of any quality.

This weekend Genoa will welcome third place Udinese to the Marassi. Marino will have to find a way to get the ball to his new star striker as Udinese have the best defence in Serie A only giving up 10 goals. The distribution from the midfield has been poor for most of the season, and playing 4-3-3 isn’t going to help a midfield that routinely gives the ball away.

Gilardino unfortunately doesn’t have the quality on either side of him in this formation if Merkel is on the bench and Rodrigo Palacio is still injured. Marco Rossi played on the right of the three last week and was non-existent. He has now played as a right back, right side midfielder and right sided forward this season. Rossi is too old and slow to ask to cover so much ground and work so hard. A central role would be more fitting for the Italian.

There is good news for the Rossoblu, however. The club will play Inter in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia next week. They’ve done well in the cup to this point, but it’ll be interesting to see if Marino goes all in next week to continue the cup run or will he preserve his squad in case of a relegation fight.

Assumedly, he will preserve the squad though it would be the highlight of the season if the club could knock out the cup holders on their way to the final. Unfortunately, getting relegated in the process would be a lowlight.

Now 17 games into the season and there are just as many questions at the Marassi as there were in August. At least it’s always interesting in Genoa.

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer

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