Swarup Pokhrel Date: 22nd January 2012 at 6:03am
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Serse Cosmi is perhaps the most passionate, amusing, and recognizable coach in Serie A. His glaring sideline antiques, trademark goatee, topped by his prized baseball cap symbolize him.

Though he used to wear caps printed with the name of the club he represented, he now prefers his own signature on the caps. Perhaps the self promotion has dampened his luck. Ever since his tenure with Udinese, which dates back to the 2005-2006 season, he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations. 

His passion, energy, exciting bursts of sideline instructions coupled with never seen before gesticulations, not only welcome media attention but also provide a fresh air to struggling teams. Cosmi is a motivator, you could tell by his body language.

In addition, he also has a knack of leading his teams to shock results over big teams. Take for example, his Brescia side beat Juventus in Serie B. Last season, after being appointed at Palermo, he danced his way along the sidelines to drag his team to a victory over Milan. Cosmi’s weird knack of producing big upsets might just be what the struggling Lecce side need in order to save themselves from relegation.

The Salentini have won three, drawn three and lost twelve times these season, lingering at 19th position. The goal per game ratio for a club of their standards is pretty healthy. This season, they have scored eighteen times in as much matches. In fact, their scoring ratio is as good as Fiorentina (12th) and better than Cagliari (13th), Bologna (16th) and Cessena (18th). The same can be said of Novara, who find themselves at the bottom of the table.

However, as with any other teams fighting relegation, the Giallorossi have conceded heaps of goals – 34 in 18 games. Compare that to 17th place Siena and 18th place Cesena who have conceded 20 and 25 goals respectively, it is fair to say Lecce can do better. However, Cosmi as a coach is risky when it comes to defensive discipline.

Given his emphatic nature, Cosmi likes to push his team forward to ‘steal’ a win. Usually, when his sides are tied goal wise with their opposition, Cosmi’s body language is very encouraging. The only exceptions are during the tail end of the game (when, at times, he resents to protecting the point).

Watching Lecce play, Cosmi’s forward-pushing mentality might not be too conspicuous because the players, at times, lack the quality to execute the instructions on the pitch. While his sides might produce big upsets once a while, Cosmi’s excitement (usually, prior to the 80 or so minute mark) could be counter productive for a relegation battling team.

If Lecce are to be saved, much relies on the Uruguayan trio of Grossmueller, Olivera and captain Giacomazzi. These players form the crux of the mid field and have the responsibility to protect their back line. The story of this season has been rather disappointing (except for Grossmueller, who can’t really be criticized). Also, in Massimo Oddo, they have an experienced defender who is able lift the team. Since scoring hasn’t been the real problem (they netted three times against Milan), they require some rigid mid field performances, alongside accurate defensive positioning.

However, that does not take the onus away from secondary strikers like Muriel to score.In general, the strikers have struggled when the supply has been cut off from the mid field. Moreover, Christian Oboda has been left vulnerable on many occasions and as for their main striker, Di Michele, he has scored just four (of which two were penalties). In any case, defensive rigidity with contributions from the mid fielders should be their priority. Likewise, much criticism can be made of the performances of the defensive unit but this team needs to function from the center, as opposed to front or back.

Cosmi’s best bet is to revive his midfielders while maintaining his motivational touch.If Lecce can maintain this scoring ratio (of one per game) and tighten up their defense alongside, they have a big chance to play top level football next season. Given the choices and records of managers on the market, Cosmi certainly is one of the best fits for Lecce.

Can he save them from relegation? Much of Lecce’s fate depends on the performance of teams like Siena and Cessena for the remainder of the season. Cosmi has the knack of producing upsets but he needs to do the basics first – win over oppositions fighting relegation.

Among the teams hovering around the relegation zone, the Giallorossi have only beaten Bologna and Cesena. Half way through the season, Lecce still have to square off against all other relegation battlers at least once. Though acquiring points through upsets come handy (for instance, they beat Fiorentina 1-0 to worsen la Viola’s plight), beating their fellow rivals will take them a long way further down the road.

In summation, though the picture looks rather gloomy, the Lupi fans have all the reasons to remain hopeful provided that the recent injury scare subsides. If Cosmi wants to sell his caps, he better save Lecce from relegation!

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