So we’re a few days on and it’s time to sum up the squad and work out the offseason plan and maybe a bit on the planned tactical approach that we’ll try out in preseason.
Moussa Shassah – 33 appearances, 7.02 average rating – MoSha had a very solid season in the net, recording 11 clean sheets, 6 mistakes and only one of those ending in a goal. This turns out to be bang on average for a keeper in Serie A. The plan is to hold onto him but his head has been turned by Leverkusen and it’ll be a solid job not to lose him.
Nathan Besson – 2 apps, 7.1 avg – Didn’t get much of a chance and doesn’t have the atts to make it long-term. We received a number of offers throughout the year from his homeland France which were rejected to ensure we had keepers in the squad, but will definitely be on the way in the offseason given our free transfer signing Robert Amador from Barcelona.
Alex Jones – 3 apps, 6.93 avg – Will return to parent club Everton, good to catch up with him again though. Copped some stick from current Everton manager Wayne Rooney for not playing him but Wayne can do one.
Christos Karamanos – 30(1) apps, 7.34 avg, 0 Goals / 3 Assists – Chris was a mainstay of the defence after coming in over the off-season. 7.34 was good for the best average rating in the Serie A for left backs appearing more than 25 times. I don’t feel we are getting enough production from the full back positions given the power they hold in FM16 so we’ll keep an eye on this in the revised set up. Unfortunately he broke his foot before the last game of the season so will start pre-season late.
Alex Bruneel – 5(6) apps, 6.93, 0/1 -AB was just a back up and did ok in that role. I did notice he seemed to be mistake prone. Finding a better back up is probably a B priority for the offseason, particularly given they will be needed as first choice early doors.
Prez Stec – 15 apps, 7.49, 0/1 – The Prez came in during January when the malcontent Rafael Ramos moved on. Performed at a very high level but again needs to offer more going forward. With the following bloke moving on, he’ll be clear first choice.
Yannick Essomba – 24(4), 7.32, 1/3 – Yannick is moving on, leaving on a Bosman. He was snapped up very quickly and if I had my time again I’d probably try to keep him in and happy as a back up. His attacking atts are not as strong as the Prez so he wasn’t going to be first choice so in the end I’m telling myself if you love someone let them free.It will mean that a right back is a priority A for the offseason, especially one trained in Italy as we are starting to run low on talent at this level.
Fabio Acampora – 36 apps, 7.11, 2/0 – Fab produced a reasonable rating that landed him in the top 12 CBs in the Serie A. However in that group he made the second most mistakes leading to goal, seemingly struggling with the cover instruction with low closing down. He loved charging out. Despite this he has turned heads in Germany and we’ll be listening with a 20m release clause on him. I’d prefer not to lose him but perhaps we could do without the mistakes.
Tomas Wagner – 29(2), 7.10. 1/2 – Tomas had a similar season to Fab without the mistakes. Well apart from that one 4.9 rated game where he scored an own goal and conceded a pen that will live in infamy. Less interest and less likely to move.
Ben Gibson – 20(3), 6.94, 0/0 – Gibbo began to fall off the pace this season at the age of 34. We can be happy with his contribution over the couple of years as we came up under his leadership as club captain. So we’ll be looking for a third CB, hopefully with some flexibility in positioning as Ben was able to move to LB at a reasonable level. We’ll also need to appoint a new skipper.
Emanuele Cristanelli – 2(1), 6.73, 0/0 – Trained at Verona, Manu got a squad spot as a result. He was also able to move down and keep fit with the U20s. He did ok in a late appearance off the bench against Juve. Given his home-grown status, a strong likelihood he’ll appear in the squad again, maybe with a few extra appearances.
Kristian Girke – 34(1) 7.35, 1/3 – Spent time between an Anchorman and Box to Box role throughout the year. Only a little bloke at 5 foot 5, he put himself about and will continue to be an important and flexible part of the midfield for next year.
Antonio Fiordilino – 4(7), 7.01 0/0 – One of the few to be involved in all two and a bit seasons under my watch at Verona, Fiordilino hasn’t really fit into the team despite appearing to be well rated by the coaching staff. He comes off contract and will be released, likely finding his level in the second division.
Federico Cardelli – 7(10) 7.15, 2/3 – Didn’t get the run he deserved but a chest injury in January saw us bring in a loan option that soaked up his possible appearances. Won’t be a first choice option in the middle of the park but will be a safe pair of hands if called upon.
Oğuz Özdönmez – 18(2), 7.42, 1/3 – On loan from Schalke, the 18-year-old flew onto the scene with a goal, a couple of assists and a send off all within his first couple of games. Playing on the DM strata for most of his appearances, the offensive production didn’t continue but proved to be a great little player.
Bernhard Reiß – 3(17), 6.96, 1/2 – The gun youngster got most of his opportunities off the bench. He is most accustomed playing as an AM, but with a chnage in formation early in the year, his chances to start games were basically shot. The plan is to train him further as a central mid, likely advanced playmaker.
Tim Ehnert – 30(3), 7.47, 2/8 – One of the stars of the promotion squad, Ehnert continued his form if not production. Played a deeper role in central midfield but we’ll look to put players around him to use his talents. Clearly a Serie A player and possible captain of the team next year.
Carvalhinho – 26(4), 7.44, 4/3 – In the discussion for signing of the season, brought across for 1m from Portugal. Carvs was quickly established as a crucial member of the first team squad. He will form the middle three with Girke and Ehnert.
Enzo Hussey – 2(2), 7.27, 0/0 – Similar issue to Bernhard Reiß, in that he played best as an AM and we stopped using that role. He’s not talented enough or Italian enough and will be moved on.
Nicola Ciccone – 23(9), 6.95, 3/3 – Possibly the disappointment of the season. After 15g/15a of Serie B production, Ciccone was unable to make a similar impact on the top flight. He played mostly on the left but also filled in on the right. It’s likely that his starting spot will go to pre-contract signed Manuel Galeao, who is coming in from Liverpool. Nico is apparently an icon of the club but I can’t see it.
Cristiano – 13(3), 7.16, 3/3 – Came in on loan and gave the squad a real spark. Will return to Corinthians on loan but will remain on the short list. If he comes across, will need the training to play further up the park.
Manuel Marchetti – 4(12), 6.91, 2/0 – Manu is a squad option only, but being trained in Italy does help. Will be between Nico and him as to who gets moved on. Ciccone’s ability to play on the right will likely be the final factor.
Michael Massignan – 4(8), 7.05, 3/0 – Another squad option and potentially a nail in the coffin of Marchetti and Ciccone. Homegrown of Verona and resigned for another couple of years. OK to play now and then, we’ll look to develop his skills as an inside forward on the right to provide flexibility.
Juan Iturbe – 31, 7.45, 17/9 – An absolute star, still doing the business at 34. Currently homesick so we have moved into planning mode to pick up another Argentinian as well as options to replace him if it all ends up poorly. Not quite sure what he needs to become an icon of the Club, has done some amazing work over the last two years.
Aurelien Rehmann – 0(7), 6.85, 0/2 – An outstanding preseason ended in disappointment. A strained ankle at the start led into a broken foot in November taking all the momentum out of his season. More of a winger than inside forward, Rehmann has the advantage of being Verona born and bred so will stick around the squad – hopefully with a level of fitness. May also need to play the other side to provide us with enough options.
Richie Talbot – 33(2), 7.17, 20/5 – Ended the season 11th in the scoring charts. This was clearly his best professional season in his first with Hellas. He carried the team towards the end of the year but wasn’t enough to keep us up the table. Doesn’t possess incredible technical skills but his physical and mental attributes make for an impressive footballer. The focus will be to get him on the move with other players opening up space for him to use.
Francisco Rossa – 7(11), 7.11, 3/4 – Not bad for a 20-year-old striker coming from the lower reaches of Portugal. A dislocated shoulder impacted the middle of his year and struggled to get fitness back to provide an option. Will stick with the squad.
Emanuele Martin – 1(2), 6.67, 0/0 – Home grown but a step down in talent from Rossa. He got a squad spot as a result. Called up to the team only when required, played plenty with the U20s. Likely to stick around as a result.
So all that means is that the shopping list isn’t too long. A back up right back is a priority as there is very little cover there. A left back is the second priority given Bruneel isn’t great and Karamanos is injured.
I don’t know how many more seasons we have left before moving across to FM17 but I’m also aiming to bring some 16 and 17 year olds across to supplement the youth system given the paucity of talent provided so far. This will hopefully help with some of the potentially home-grown issues coming up.
So this is how we plan to introduce the tactic to the players in preseason. A slight change in that we no longer have a player in the DM/AM strata. We’ve also reduced the possession shout, now just playing with the midfielders using short passing. We’ll see how that plays out in the games. The CM/A and BBM/S are also asked to move into channels. The front three are set to mark tight to try to emphasize the pressing aspects.
It’s a work in progress and one that I’m going to try to place a closer eye on with analysis through pre-season. Once the front 6 is working then I’ll see what we can do with the fullbacks.
Next post will cover pre-season and early Serie A form up to the close of the transfer window.
Thanks for reading this far – much appreciated!