Filippo Inzaghi was yesterday confirmed as Bologna’s new head coach, after weeks of speculation. Bologna have a disappointing season behind them, finishing in 15th, something which led the owner Joey Saputo into taking action. Roberto Donadoni was not allowed to sit out his contract (which stretched til the end of next season), and the club has now got their new man.
In this piece, I’ll try to assess what Inzaghi needs to improve at the club, some hard decisions he may face, and how he can become a fan favorite in Emilia-Romagna.
1. Fix the defence
Over the course of the last couple of seasons, way too many of the conceded goals were due to defensive mistakes. Lack of concentration, poor marking or no pressure on the opponent. These mistakes lost Bologna a lot of points over the course of the season, and this is something which Inzaghi needs to remove from Bologna’s game. Even though the former Milan player was a prolific striker in his days, he is still seen as a more defensive-minded coach, and only two teams conceded less goals than Venezia in Serie B this season. If he can bring the same kind of defensive stability to Bologna, he will have gone a long way into improving on Donadoni.
2. Set a clear identity
This was a real problem under Donadoni. There never seemed to be any real idea of how to play, how the team should impose themselves on the opponent. Do not get me wrong, I understand that a club the size of Bologna cannot approach a game against Juventus in the same manner as a game against Crotone. Nevertheless, with Inzaghi in charge, Bologna need a clear identity going forward. Whether that is possession-based football or full focus on hitting the opponent on the counter does not matter, but it will be much easier for the club as a whole to go forward with a clear identity as the basis of everything they do.
3. Consider a change of captain
Antonio Mirante has been the captain of the club even since Daniele Gastaldello left last summer, and he is definitely a leader on the pitch. However, Mirante is past his peak, and this became very evident the past season. He made several mistakes and weird decisions, and it may be time for a new number one. This should also mean a new captain, and in my opinion, there is no one better than suited to that role than Andrea Poli. During his first season at the club, he stood out as a leader with his hard-working displays, now he should be rewarded with the armband.
4. The question of Destro
It is no secret that Mattia Destro’s time at the club has not gone as hoped, when he first arrived back in 2015. Last season he was in and out of the team, more often than not on the bench, whilst Donadoni criticized his level of commitment a couple of times as well. He was linked with a move to England in January, but he wanted to stay at the club and fight for his place in the team. The second half of the season was not a good one for him, and it was therefore expected that he would leave the club this summer. However, with the arrival of Inzaghi, there has been talk of Destro staying. He has worked under Inzaghi before at Milan, and it may well be that the former striker could influence Destro in a positive way. The question of Destro needs to sorted out sooner rather than later.
5. Construct a new attack
Inzaghi must be feeling unlucky not to be able to work with Simone Verdi. With him going to Napoli, Inzaghi must construct a new attack without the brilliance of Verdi. Too often the past season, Bologna were too reliant on Verdi’s goals and assists, and this has to change now that he is gone. The money received for him will undoubtedly go into strengthening the team, and a new forward is definitely on Riccardo Bigon’s list. There are question marks around Destro, Rodrigo Palacio has still not signed a new contract, whilst Felipe Avenatti will not stay at the club. New players are definitely needed, and Inzaghi faces a huge challenge constructing a new, functional attack.
Photo: Bologna FC