Mind that cracking defensive record I had in Serie B? That has well and truly gone. Things started badly. Really badly. Having strengthened the squad, predominantly in midfield, I was reasonably confident of surviving in Serie A. Then the fixture list was announced. I would start away to Juventus with my first home game coming in the next fixture against Napoli. Understandably we lost both and our third match, away to Sassuolo who had finished 8th the previous season. It was a rude awakening for the team and morale was the lowest it had been during my tenure.
To make matters worse both Carpi and Entella, who had been promoted alongside us, were unbeaten in their first 3 matches. It made our 4th game at home to Trapani vital but, when Trapani scored in the 78th minute to go 2-1 up, we were in trouble. However, we turned it around magnificently and goals from Fabbro (86th minute) and Brasnic (90) gave us a 3-2 win. Massive, massive victory. Annoyingly summer signing Russell Canouse was sent off and that was our third red card in 4 games. Unbeknown to me all my players individual tackling instructions were set to high. Presumably I set this up but as I created the tactic in a previous save I don’t remember doing this. In our first 4 games we received 22 yellow cards and 3 red. In the 6 since; 20 yellows, no red.
Anyway I was hoping we could kick on from that Trapani win and we kinda did. Next was a 3-3 draw away to Palermo, the fans were delighted with this, before a 0-0 draw at home to Sampdoria. I was delighted with this mostly because of the clean sheet. We then lost away to Bologna. Despite some small signs of promise it still meant that after 7 games our form was
We were firmly in the relegation zone and I really had to target 6 points from our next to games against Cagliari (H) and Carpi (A) as the two games after those were back-to-back matches against the Milan giants, AC and Inter. 6 points were duly delivered as we produced our most complete performance so far against Cagliari (2-0) and another epic comeback against Carpi (3-2).
AC Milan at home next in a midweek game under the lights. A sell-out crowd came more in hope than expectation, and the Rossoneri were the better team right from the start. However, we did restrict them to efforts from distance and, despite the fact they hit woodwork twice in the opening 20 minutes, at half time we, unbelievably, found ourselves 2-0 up. Samou Sissoko had scored with our only attempts on target. Luciano Vietto pulled one back on the hour mark for Milan but we held firm for a famous victory. The Artemio Franchi was rocking at the end.
Only 3 days later we had to pick ourselves up and head to Milan to play Inter. Inter had had a shocking start to the season, losing 4 of their opening 7 games, but had dusted themselves down and were back up to 5th and had won 3 out of 3 in their Champions League group. The Nerazzurri scored after 15 minutes and should’ve been out of sight as the battered us but, again, our defence was imperious. Russell Canouse got his 2nd red of the season after 54 minutes and the gig should’ve been up but Bezziccheri came off the bench to get us a completely undeserved draw. Remember Scotland in the Parc des Princes? It was like that. Inter were fuming and claimed we were overly aggressive. They should’ve played us before I tweaked the tactics.
Overall a good start. 11 games in and its 4 wins, 3 draws and 4 defeats. Having completed my National B Licence the board allowed me study for the National A Licence.