The squad had potential and there was a thought that this season may see the smaller ground create some atmosphere and at least they were not playing in Trieste again. As hope and a warm blanket of stability enveloped Cagliari they kicked off the season.
Cataclysmic is the best phrase to describe the first half of the season as the Sardinians slumped to 10 defeats, drawing three and winning only four. Like a lame donkey they laboured about the feel with a lack of determination and endeavour losing to Pescara in the process. Even the fact that Massimo Ficcadenti had been replaced by Ivo Pulga and Diego Lopez in October showed no immediate improvement.
Cagliari, in fairness, did start the New Year with a fair degree of vigor and fight, mixed with an almost unimaginable hint of stability. Admittedly they lost their first match of 2013 away at Lazio but a well-earned win at Genoa was followed up with a creditable draw away at Atalanta and a game against Palermo saw them drag out another draw.
The turning point came against Roma when the away side destroyed the Giallorossi 4-2. Goals from Radja Nainggolan, Marco Sau and Francesco Pisano sealed the points, although the highlight (or moment to forget for the Romans) was an own goal from Mauro Goicoechea in which the beleaguered goalkeeper almost slapped the ball into his own net from the cross.
Just as form and fortunes seemed to be turning there was a slap in the face. A ‘Provincial Supervision Committee’ released a statement saying that “At present there are concerns over public safety for the match between Cagliari and AC Milan on Sunday 15.” This was only the beginning, but for now there was still hope.
Before every home game the stadium had security checks and more often than not it fails them, only for the local authorities to change their mind when they realise they do not have the conviction to follow it through. Not this time apparently, and before the game with Milan they were making a stand.
Turin! Cried the powers that be, this is where the game must be played, the Stadio Olimpico in Turin. So it was that the Sardinians found themselves looking at the prospect of travelling to a stadium only three hours away from Milan by train, yet much further away from their island than could be logically explained. In the end common sense prevailed the game went ahead and somehow even with the turmoil Cagliari drew 1-1. Surely the worst was over; they had already had a game against Roma cancelled earlier in the year.
The season then became very messy for the club; firstly, they faced the rather troublesome issue of witnessing Mauro Contini (the mayor of Quartu Sant’Elena, the Cagliari district) and their President Massimo Cellino, being arrested as part of an investigation into the Is Arenas stadium. Why you ask?
For once it was not match fixing but embezzlement and false representation in the rebuilding of the stadium. Secondly in a bizarre situation that typified crazy fortnight, the powers that be actually made them play in behind closed doors. So, in an eerie Stadio Is Arenas, the irony played out that Cagliari and Torino produced one of the games of the season, it ended 4-3.
A pattern was emerging; the crazier things got the better the team played as if bonding due to having the world against them. As they pushed Sampdoria aside more insanity raged as president Cellino was released on house arrest and moved to Villamassargia in the hills to see this out. It was later revealed that he has now incredibly been moved to the Asseminello training camp. This meant he was in the same building as the players. Only in Italy could house arrest involve moving houses so that you can go about the business.
Things continued to get worse and by the time a game against Inter came up the Is Arenas had been abandoned due to dubious security issues so it was decided that (similar to the end of last season) the game would be played in Trieste. This farcical event, which is the equivalent of Shamrock Rovers playing their home games at Watford, took place amidst much fist banging and gnashing of teeth. Once again however Cagliari were victorious.
The squad had achieved safety with games to go and could have pushed on, however, a lazy last few games showed that the season had taken its toll. Cagliari’s president Massimo Cellino is now out, free from house arrest and free to take hold of the many problems Cagliari have. Will there be any more fraud or embezzlement? Who knows? Will there be any resolution to the stadium and will there be an overhaul of the squad? All the fans do know is that no matter what happens next season, it can’t be as crazy as the last one, can it?
Player of the Season
Radja Nainggolan: A power house who has everything, intelligence, speed, tackling ability and a man who can read a pass. He also has an incredible shot on him. Second best player in Serie A behind Cavani perhaps?
Goal of the Season
Marco Sau v Napoli: Amazing skill, superb balance and a delectable shot that left the keeper standing, away and in the San Paolo
Best and Worst Signings
The best signing has to be Marco Sau, though, more the decision to bring him back from loan but his impact and goals have been incredible this term.
The worst signing has to be Matias Cabrera, the Uruguayan has only featured twice since arriving from Nacional in the summer and has failed to impress