A new week and a new month is upon us. Things are looking much brighter now than just over a week ago, where we were about to face Roma followed by Juventus then Udinese. A week later, and we got six points out of those three games. Given the absolute ridiculous task of facing the Italian champions, I’d say that we could not have done any better than what we did. A lot of things have improved lately under the new coach.
First of all, the team cohesion has improved drastically since the start of the season. This is not that surprising given that we went into the season with a new coach, a new tactical setup, and several new players. Still, in the last couple of games, the coordination between the players have improved, in my opinion mainly because of two reasons. For one thing, Filippo Inzaghi’s choice to include Mattias Svanberg in the starting line-up has done wonders. The Swedish midfield prodigy has given the team something different in midfield, a creative spark if you will. In addition to this, several games under the belt with Inzaghi’s tactical vision has also played a part in our recent upswing in form.
This new-found cohesion bodes well for the upcoming games of the new month. Bologna start off October with a trip to Sardegna to face Cagliari. That is probably the easiest game of the month, but nevertheless not a given win. After the international break Bologna will be paid a visit by Torino, before the month is wrapped up with an Emilia-Romagna derby against Sassuolo. Seven points would be great, and at least six should be doable.
Nevertheless, with the positives we’ve seen of late in attack, there are still serious question marks in defence. For instance, in the first half against Udinese, the opposition had it way too easy playing their way through our defence as well as getting lots of chances on the counter. This must change going forward if we are to pick up more points.
This brings us to a surprising turn of events. In my opinion, Giancarlo Gonzalez is our best defender. He can do the occasional blunder, but talent-wise, he should be starting games. However, up until now, with a three-man defence, Inzaghi has preferred Danilo, Sebastien De Maio and even the likes of Arturo Calabresi and Nehuen Paz. The latter two have both made their debut in Serie A this season whilst Gonzalez has been on the bench. The Costa Rica international did have the coach’s confidence during the first few games of the season, but was dropped against Roma as Calabresi stepped into the side. The win against the side from the capital saw Calabresi retain his place in the side. As Filip Helander was injured though, one expected that Gonzalez would step back into the team against Juventus, but rather it was Paz who got the nod. With a new win against Udinese, it now seems as though Inzaghi’s preferred back three is Danilo, Helander and Calabresi.
Ibrahim M’baye has also been a casualty of the new regime. With the shift in formation to 3-5-2, the Senegalese defender can play both as part of the back three, but also on the right hand side of the midfield. So far, he has been limited to the odd cameo and that will probably not change in the near future.
Last but not least, another potential casualty of the tenure of Inzaghi can be Andrea Poli. He has been injured of late, but it will be interesting to see whether he walks back into the team when fit. Given the good performances by Svanberg and Riccardo Orsolini and the other kind of skill set those two bring to the team, Poli can not expect a place in the line-up right away. Both against Roma and Udinese, Svanberg performed brilliantly as part of the midfield three, combining work-rate with clever passing and dribbling. Orsolini’s cameo against Udinese was also a very positive one, not just because of his goal but his overall performance. Poli might become an unlucky casualty of those two players’ good performances.
However, there haven’t only been players that have gone unexpectedly out of the team this season, there has also been one in particular who has fought his way into it. As was expected at the start of the season, Erick Pulgar started the first few games in the regista-role. He failed to live up to the high expectations caused by his brilliant performances last season. His tempo has been off, his passing game has lacked the final edge, and he has returned to his former trend of rushing into challenges. This eventually led to his red card against Genoa, which made way for Adam Nagy in the line-up. He grasped his chance and never looked back. Great movement off the ball, always ready to receive a pass, good at winning the ball, and clever passes have been some of his trademarks during the three games he has got after the Chilean’s red card against Genoa. As Pulgar has finished his suspension, he can not expect to come straight back into the team as our Hungarian midfielder has made that position his.
One cannot say that everything has improved this season as there still are a lot of things that the team have got to work on, especially defensive-wise. Nevertheless, improvement is definitely evident in several aspects vis-a-vis the overall team. Optimism should be high at the moment, as the tenure of Inzaghi has definitely brought change for the better.
Until next time.