Genoa Club Focus: Another Long Season Ahead For The Grifone
Genoa’s goal for 2012-13 seems to be completely different than that of a year ago when qualification to European competition was the Holy Grail. It seems survival and consolidation are the new buzz words, or at least they should be.
Genoa football club have had a quiet 2012 summer mercato compared to the transfer dealings and roller coaster season that was 2011-12.
The club’s lack of activity in the transfer market thus far should be seen as a positive rather than a negative. After all the comings and goings over the past few seasons it is stability that is needed most.
Thus, Genoa have kept many of their key players from last term, while shipping out only two of their big name performers. Unfortunately, one of those players was the talismanic Rodrigo Palacio. A striker that provided 19 goals and five assists for a club that tallied 50 goals in 2011-12.
Palacio’s goal scoring will not be the only part of his game that is missed. Palacio’s movement and positioning allowed others to get on the score sheet, and when the Argentine was out of the line-up Genoa struggled mightily.
The other big name player to be sold by the club was Miguel Veloso, though any self-respecting Genoa supporter would know that Veloso’s contributions last year were few and far between. Though reading pre-Euro 2012 coverage of numerous football websites, it appeared those that don’t follow Serie A thought more highly of Veloso’s season.
Despite selling those players and the end of two loans- Fernando Belluschi and Giuseppi Sculli- Genoa have enough talent to secure an ample amount of points to finish mid-table. The big question is can they fulfill their potential or will they return to type in very competitive Serie A?
Luigi De Canio will again take up the reigns of the Grifone. The Italian took over the ailing club last April and managed to steer them to safety. De Canio was the club’s fourth manager after two failed spells by Alberto Malesani sandwiched a disastrous spell by Pasquale Marino. In his five matches in charge De Canio guided the club to only two victories, however, the Italian has been given the chance to guide the club from the start. Though being in charge of Genoa means there’s a lack of job security with club president Enrico Preziosi’s shadow firmly cast over the team.
Perhaps the part of the team that needed the most work- the defense- for the most part has stayed in tact. The Grifone’s defense was comical at times in 2011-12, showing an extreme lack of pace and inability to prevent an attacker from getting goal-side.
Strangely the club allowed January signing Roger de Carvalho to leave the club for Bologna. Though the Brazilian looked green on occasions he showed a fluidity and ability that his fellow defenders lacked.
The club will have Cesare Bovo back after he missed much of last season with an injury. Andreas Granqvist should slot next to Bovo in the heart of the defense, and the pairing should be a major improvement on the likes Kakha Kaladze and Dario Dainelli. Kaladze has retired after an atrocious season while Dainelli’s loan at Chievo was made permanent this summer.
The full-back position was just as weak last term, and it looks as though there maybe a revolving door of full-backs once again. Giandomenico Mesto, Marco Rossi, Emiliano Moretti, Luca Antonelli, Kevin Constant and Masahudu Alhassan all spent time there and none of them truly excelled in the position.
The return of Nenad Tomovic from loan may improve the club at right-back, but Mesto will most likely begin the season there. A fit Moretti could go a long way for the Grifone as he missed large parts of last season. Moretti should be the preferred left-back, and his experience is important in a side coming off a rocky season.
Genoa’s midfield looks streamlined coming into the new year, and the most exciting player pulling on the famous rossoblu shirt will be Alexander Merkel. The German was fantastic, when finally given the opportunity, at the beginning of last season. However, a mid-season return to Milan not only derailed Genoa’s ability to create, but Merkel’s season after suffering an injury.
If Merkel is fit and can rekindle the form he showed last autumn Genoa could be dangerous in attack. However, Merkel’s creativity will need someone on the other end to put the ball in the back of the net.
Last January’s €8 million signing Alberto Gilardino returns, and it will be his responsibility to get the goals. Gilardino got off to a good start with the Grifone after signing from Fiorentina and had Genoa pushing for a Europa League slot. Unfortunately, Gilardino injured his leg and his time out coincided with Genoa’s nose dive.
Depending on how the team is set up, Gilardino may play next to the club’s biggest addition in the off-season Ciro Immobile. Genoa purchased half of the young striker’s rights from Juventus last winter, and he is currently set to start the season with the Grifone.
Immobile was the catalyst to Pescara’s promotion from Serie B as he notched 28 goals in 36 matches. Though it remains to be seen if the 22-year old can make the step up to Serie A. Hopefully, Immobile will be given time by De Canio or anyone who may follow the Italian, as he is a fantastic young talent; and with Merkel the two could become the face of the Grifone for years to come. If they’re not sold after one good season.
A mid-table finish would be an excellent season for the team. However, with a lack of proven top-flight goal scorers the club will struggle to put the ball in the back of the net. Coupled with a back-line that gave up the most goals in the league last season, and it’s hard imagine Genoa not fighting relegation.
The 2012-13 season should be less of a roller coaster ride, and more of a long continuous battle for the club. No manager since Gian Piero Gasperini in 2009-10 has survived a full season with the club. Don’t expect De Canio to make it until May, but do expect another long year at the Marassi.
Player to Watch: Ciro Immobile
Follow Drew on Twitter @Calciofarmer.