The Grifone finished the summer mercato, like mercati before it, with player moves and coaches being hired and fired.
In was Fabio Liverani, a man that had minimal coaching experience that was gained with Genoa’s Primavera team, and out was the man that rescued Genoa the previous term – Davide Ballardini. Meanwhile, a new goalkeeper, a central defender, numerous midfielders and two strikers were all brought in on various deals.
And as much as one can say it worked in the end, it almost didn’t work at all, yet somehow came together for Genoa to finish with 44 points and in 14th place.
Liverani’s reign as Genoa coach was short lived and the former Lazio man was dismissed a month into the season after gaining a mere four points. The team was in 15th place when he left and it seems strange that the team only finished one spot better despite the all around improvement.
His appointment as coach was heralded as a youth movement by the Genoa hierarchy. Yet after only a month with Liverani in charge the movement was halted and by January the Grifone had reverted to type for the most part. Still, fourteenth place is a respectable finish by any standards, especially for a club like Genoa who doggedly fought relegation into the final weeks of the two previous season.
This season saw the emergence of several players in the rossoblu shirt. Sebastian De Maio, Stefano Sturaro, Andrea Bertolacci, Sime Vrsaljko and Ricardo Centurian all showed their quality at the Serie A level and are now attracting interest from other clubs. It was a year to build on in the end, a year that could propel the club to more next season, like a possible cup run or run at the Europa League. At least, one can dream.
Player of the season
Many would assume that Alberto Gilardino would be the hands down choice as Genoa’s player of the season. All the former Italian international did was score 15 goals. The team’s No. 11 notched 37% of the team’s goals. Not too bad for a man that was unwanted coming into the season.
Despite his contributions to the Grifone, Gilardino wasn’t Genoa’s player of the season. Rather, Genoa’s player of the season was 21-year-old goalkeeper Mattia Perin, a kid with immense potential thrust into the role of goalkeeper that quickly learned on the job.
Perin’s excellent acrobatic shot-stopping prevented Genoa from losing on many occasions. Without his brilliant work in goal, Genoa would have gained far fewer points regardless of the coach. With Gilardino the only player to score more than three goals (left-back Luca Antonelli was second leading scorer), it was on Perin’s shoulders to keep games close. And on many occasions he was the only one between points gained or no points at all.
Perin finished the season having played in 37 of the club’s 38 matches making 142 saves and keeping 11 cleansheets along the way. Those 142 saves were second best to Hellas Verona’s Rafael and have fueled rumours of Perin’s departure this summer; which is completely expected once he returns from being Gianluigi Buffon’s back-up at the World Cup.
Goal of the season
Genoa’s best goal of the season came from a player that did very little for the club after making the move to Genoa from Napoli last summer. However, Emanuele Calaio’s goal against Napoli was hands down the best goal scored by a Genoa player during the season. By referring to as the best, it was simply the most pleasing aesthetically.
However, Calaio’s goal against the club he was loaned from knotted the score at one and allowed Genoa to gain a valuable point as they neared the magical 40-point survival line. Calaio’s time at Genoa will be remember for that goal and very little else unless he is kept around from another season to toil as a back-up striker.
Best and worst signings
Though signing Liverani to coach the club was a terrible decision, it wasn’t the team’s worst signing. Francesco Lodi was bought to be Genoa’s deep-laying midfield maestro, yet failed to prove to be more than a slow, errant passer with no tackling ability. Four months was all Genoa needed to see before the man that so many teams pined for was sent packing back to Catania with little fan fair.
The “Greek Messi” was outstanding when given the opportunity to pull the strings in Genoa’s attack.
Routinely placed on the wing, Fetfatzidis constantly drifted inside taking on defenders with his outstanding dribbling abilities; much like Lionel Messi when he first broke in to the Barcelona side. Fetfatzidis wasn’t always used to his maximum abilities and was kept on the bench far too often.
Of the Greek’s 31 appearances, 20 came off the bench and was too often used as the player to change the game after Genoa fell behind. His performance against Udinese at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris was outstanding as he inspired the club to a draw after being three goals down. Fetfatzidis capped off a brilliant season with a goal in the team’s win against Roma last Sunday and will hopefully be the creative spark for the Grifone next season.
The 2013/14 was a long season that is now in the books. It will be a season remembered as the return of Gian Piero Gasperini, his revival as a coach and the building of something – hopefully – special for the future.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter: @CalcioFarmer.