Hello CM fans, and welcome back for part 3. We had a break last week for the Anglo-Italian Cup, which I hope you all enjoyed, and as it’s been a couple of weeks since part 2, I’ll quickly recap on where we left off…
After losing their first competitive match (a Coppa Italia tie against Cesena), the Aces made a great start to life in Serie B, topping the table after 10 games, so let’s see if they can continue enjoying Italian life…
This was definitely not the sort of news I wanted this early in the season…
Harbuzi has also been ruled out but only for a couple of weeks. Anyway, bad news out of the way and we’re home to bottom-of-the-table Venezia. They’ve kept Alessandro Dal Canto, who normally moves on to better things, and have signed Colombian international, Herman Garivia. Källström comes in for crocked Kerr (try saying that in a hurry!), and Said replaces the suspended N’Diaye.
We’re 2-0 up in 20 minutes via Lundén and Aghahowa, and it could have been three if not for a disallowed goal on 23. The match quietens down until the 70th minute, when I bring on Robben and Tsigalko for Aghahowa and Madeira, and then Selakovic gets our third goal two minutes later to wrap things up. Said clearly hasn’t enjoyed being out of the team and puts in a man of the match performance to try and win his place back. After a few results go our way, we’re now four points clear at the top.
The first of three tough games now as we travel to 5th-placed Genoa, who have been busy in the transfer market, making four signings. We’re unchanged from the Venezia match.
We’re ahead early from a corner but our celebrations don’t last long as Genoa hit straight back. They take the lead on 22 minutes and don’t even allow us to draw breath before making it 3-1. Although I’m angry, Selakovic pulls one back just before half time, which makes things a bit more bearable.
Lundén is off for Tsigalko at half time, and this proves an inspired change as the young Belarusian gets the equaliser on 68. It finishes 3-3 and our lead at the top is cut back to two points again.
Padova are up next. They’ve climbed to 2nd in the table and have signed Serge-Alain Maguy on a free transfer and former Danish European champion, Peter Nielsen. I reward Tsigalko for his goal against Genoa with a start in place of Lundén in our only change.
The usual flurry of early chances ensues and we’re ahead just before half an hour as Källström scores his first Aces goal. Tsigalko then repays my faith in him with his second goal in as many games just after the break. Källstrom is clearly keen to capitalise on Kerr’s absence as he gets his second goal just after the hour. Padova reply late on but it’s back to winning ways and three points clear.
A trip to Cagliari now, who are 5th and have some Uruguayan firepower with Dario Silva and Fabian O’Neill up front, as well as future Blackburn star, Bernardo Corradi. We’re unchanged from the Padova win.
We have the better of the opening exchanges but Cagliari turn on the pressure up until half time but it remains goalless when the whistle blows. I decide not to make any changes and my patience is rewarded as Tsigalko makes it three in three on 52 minutes. I freshen things up on 78, bringing on Moukoko for Källström. Moukoko has had good ratings in the little minutes he’s played, which could be promising. The win puts us five clear, and seven out of nine points from those last three games is fantastic.
Another manager of the month award in the cabinet as I pick up the November gong, and in other news, Dortmund are crowned world club champions as they beat São Paulo.
We’re off to Castel Di Sangro now, who are struggling in 17th place. They have a young Carlo Cudicini between the sticks, so hopefully he has an off-day. I name an unchanged side for a third consecutive game.
It’s an action-packed first ten minutes, with chances and shots either way. Tsigalko is on fire at the minute and scores for the fourth game in a row to put us ahead. We waste chance after chance in the second half and are made to pay just after the hour as the home side equalise. Aghahowa is sent off late on and it finishes 1-1. We had ten shots on target and Cudicini was man of the match, which isn’t uncommon when you play the famous 2-3-1-2-2. The board don’t comment on the result but Padova also draw to let us off.
An interesting piece of news from Serie A emerges as 8th-placed Parma sack Carlo Ancelotti despite winning six of their last eight matches. Answers on a postcard please…
Pescara are our next visitors, and I don’t recognise a single name in their squad, which is a first. West was injured but has recovered so we’re unchanged yet again.
After a goalless first half, I decide to persevere and not make any changes, which pays off immediately as Selakovic gives us the lead. Källström gets his third goal of the season and I replace him with Bakircioglü late on, and Tsigalko makes way for Moukoko. There’s relief on 82 as Pescara have a goal disallowed and we take the points.
There’ll be extra shooting practice for Madeira and Tsigalko this week as they had eleven shots between them but only managed one on target each. Thank god for our midfield!
A host of Scandinavian clubs make loan offers for Harbuzi and Moukoko, but I want them to go to one of the loaded leagues, where they’ll actually play so I politely decline. Alberto Zaccheroni replaces Ancelotti at Parma.
A second visit of the season to Verona now as we face Chievo, who are 17th. I can vaguely remember their defenders, Salvatore Lanna and Lorenzo D’Anna from when Chievo took Serie A by storm in 2001/02 with a 5th place finish. Aghahowa is suspended, so Hersi gets a rare start on the left and that’s our only change.
There’s a lively start to the match and it’s 1-1 after 10 minutes. Hersi has started well with a rating of 8/10, but is sent off after just 14 minutes. We don’t let this faze us though and regain the lead with Tsigalko’s second goal on 18 minutes. The hosts equalise right at the end of an exhilarating first half.
Lundén is on for the second half in place of Madeira, who’s having a stinker. We fall behind on 56 and it remains that way for the rest of the match and our nine-game unbeaten run comes to an end, and our lead at the top of the table is cut to two points.
It’s not a good week for Hersi, who after his nightmare debut suffers a torn hamstring in training and is out for three months.
Perugia are in town for our next match, and they’re doing well as they sit 7th in the league. I recognise a few of their squad in Milan Rapajic, Everton legend and future best friend of Zidane, Marco Matterazzi, and Mark Emmers, who’s the doppelgänger of everyone’s favourite Belgian midfielder, Marc Emmers. Aghahowa returns from suspension and replaces Hersi.
Tsigalko continues his superb form by putting us ahead on 5 minutes and is denied a brace on 17 as it’s disallowed. Källström makes up for it however, as he doubles our lead a minute later. Tsigalko doesn’t have to wait long for his second goal as he makes it 3-0 shortly after the half hour mark. Not much happens in the second half apart from a Materazzi own goal and some late game time for Prutton, Robben and Moukoko in place of Duff, Aghahowa and Madeira.
Bottom side Foggia are our last opponents of the first half of the season. They have a useful forward in young Swede, Jonas Axeldal who has scored six goals so far this season. We are unchanged from the previous match.
After going six games without a goal, Madeira finds his shooting boots again after just 2 minutes to give us the lead. We then ironically suffer back-to-back goals from Back to trail at half time.
The second half begins and Foggia are running the show, creating lots of chances, but we equalise against the run of play through Tsigalko on 69 minutes. Foggia look to have got the winner on 73, but we’re relieved to see it disallowed and we escape with what some might say is an undeserved point.
Despite the board thinking that was a poor result (I can’t blame them), we’re top of the league by three points at the halfway stage.
There’s no doubt that this part of the blog belongs to the boy from Belarus. He has nine goals in his last eight matches and eleven for the season. He’s rapidly rising in value too, having started at £325k, he’s now worth £1.2m and I can only see him getting better, and hopefully matching his goal scoring exploits of CM01/02.
That’s it for this week. Arrivederci until next time!