Welcome back to the Alberto Braglia Stadio. It’s Summer 2019. And I Hernan Crespo would like to update you about our second season here at FC Modena.
Last summer we started our season preparations with a home friendly against Spartak Moscow. This opener was a great way to stretch the legs for most of the squad and assess who we needed to move on and replace. We brought in a number of signings (See the link below) The most notable is Gennaro Ruggiero from Palermo for £1.7M.
We also make numerous loan signings, Juventus were very glad to extend our parent/feeder club relationship by allowing us to loan, Moise Kean, Ricardo Campos, Riccardo Orsolini and Rodrigo Bentacur.
So with the new guys in and the friendly games came thick and fast we looked to blend and develop on the working relationships.
Our opening competitive game was a home Tim Cup tie against Viterbese. Summer signing from Barcelona B, Marc Cardona scored a brace and Bentacur scored one on their debuts. A very satisfactory result in the cup leads use to meet Bologna in the next round.
The meeting with the Serie A giant at the Renato Dall’Ara was an awesome affair. We won 3-0 Tonelli powered a header in from close range to start the rout, we then forced Paz in to blasting the ball in to the back of his own net, and Bentacur completed the scoring in the second half.
We get paired with Novara for the fourth qualifying round. At this point of the season we had already exceeded the clubs expectations in the cup competition.
We entered life in Serie B with the expectation to stay in the league and the hope to better that expectation by finishing mid-table.
The opening fixture in the league was away against Cosenza. Lucho gave us an early lead. But Cosenza out muscle our fitness levels to score two late goals and gave us a crippling feeling to our new life in Serie B. Our following fixtures saw us win, lose and draw. The highlight was a 4-1 win against Cremonese. The rest of September saw us win two 3-0 victories on the bounce, then we got stunned by Salernitana. The away defeat was an awful display by everyone the starting eleven and the three subs used to change things. No-one took responsibility, no-one wanted to be the man. I lost my frustrations, it all came to the boil and I told the guys exactly how I felt.
Looking back this may have been the wrong move. We only won one in the next six matches. And this lack of form continued until December. After a lot of tinkering to stop the rot we finally won a match convincingly the home tie against AC Siena. We won 3-0 with a formation that we stuck with it until the end of the season.
The very next match was the TIM 4th qualifying round tie against Novara. A hard fought battle saw us go toe to toe against them all the way through to penalties, fortunately our boys had been on the training field pinging balls from the penalty spot, practicing for the event of being pushed to the limits. Winning the cup tie brought the whole team a new sense of confidence.
Our next four league games saw us pick up some form, by winning three and losing one. We sent the guys on there winter break with a new sense of belief.
During the winter break we brought in a load of kids for the under 20’s and three key loan signings. A slightly more experienced goal keeper for the league we are in, in Alberto Brignoli, He jumped straight into the starting eleven and played a key role in the second half of the season.
Next we brought in Rolando Mandragora. Rolando was sitting in the under 20’s and demanding a chance to prove himself. We gave him the opportunity to resurrect his potential, by putting him in our squad of young guns and wise heads.
The third star loanee that joined us in the January window was Federico Bonazzoli. A striker with a keen eye for scoring who was getting frustrated sitting on the Sampdoria bench. Bona jumped at the opportunity to join us, another player with the bit between his teeth to show the Italian public what he can do if given the chance.
Our first match back was in the TIM cup. The 1st round proper. We played against Napoli at the San Paolo. We took the game to them and hit them with an early goal through Bona. The tough approach helped to keep the guys focussed on matching their every move. An over excited Bona got sent off on his debut!! Thankfully Rog for Napoli was just as keen to impress and got a second yellow card. By levelling the playing field we sink Napoli with a strike from Pierini. We Won 2-0. Away at the San Paolo. in the our biggest match of the season, at that point of the season. The boys were ecstatic and overjoyed with this victory.
The next two league games were testament to the previous cup game. A 4-1 and 2-0 victories against Cosenza and Cremonese respectively.
This lead to the Quarter Final of the TIM Cup. We played host to Roma. Their quality was our downfall. But our new found togetherness was our strength. We fought tooth and nail to get back in to the tie after an early goal by Ganso to be denied a goal scoring chance. With our bottoms slapped slightly by highbrow Serie A opposition we took the loss with a pinch of salt and maintained our team spirit in to the league.
In fact the togetherness of the whole squad shone through to the end of the season. From February 11th until now we have not lost a match! That is 19 matches without losing. We definitely found our stride in the second half of the season. Two notable results were the 5-0 home win against Salernitana and the 4-1 home win against a plucky Atalanta. This type of form was and is title winning form.
We are proud to be crowned champions of Serie B and are now looking forward to the next challenge of surviving Serie A.
Thank you for reading. And look out for our Serie A adventures….
Episodes from the series so far.