Welcome to the latest post covering my save with Società Sportiva Bergamo. We are now embarking on our first season for the club in Serie A after topping Serie B last season. In this post I will be looking back at the close season and how we prepared for the season ahead.
The dust had barely settled from our celebrations at the end of last season when I was already preparing for the forthcoming season. I have done this a million times but this time it felt different. After gaining promotion from Lega Pro in our first season I had kept faith with our squad going in to Serie B and they more than repaid my faith in them last season in becoming Serie B Champions, but now we are in the big boys league for the first time in the clubs history and like I already said above this Pre Season was feeling different for me I knew that I would have to be prudent during this close season and I have developed a real connection with this squad of players who have over performed to get us in to the top tier, but I was about to make some important decisions that will see a few players leave the club that would not have done so if we had remained in Serie B giving me at least another season to develop our youth that would automatically step up in to the positions that I feel we need to improve to give ourselves a fighting chance this season.
I am not looking for miracles I want us to spend a few seasons establishing our status in Serie A before thinking about challenging for European qualification with an aim of having a complete starting XI developed in our own academy.
The board want us to fight bravely against relegation and have given us a transfer budget of €9m and a wage budget of €250,000 per week. There was also rumours of a takeover but nothing concrete.
I had made a few board requests which the board had agreed so the following upgrades are underway :
- Upgrade the training facilities
- Upgrade the youth teams facilities
- Upgrade the Junior coaching
- Upgrade youth recruitment
- Find an affiliate that we can send players to to continue their development
If you have been following this save you will know that the club as a transfer policy in place (Lombardia Policy) meaning any player over the age of 17 must have been born in the Lombardy region. We are “Playing By Our Own Rules”
Main Cities and Towns of the Lombardy region by population :
- Busto Arsizio
- Sesto San Giovanni
- Cinisello Balsamo
- Cologno Monzese
- Paderno Dugnano
The list goes on but the main reason I wanted to list the top 20 is that these are the first 20 filters that I had set up to scout for players in Lombardy.
I decided that a number of players would leave the club during the summer which resulted in us bringing in an extra €3.9m but more importantly we had made room for a few players that i think will improve the quality of our squad. Players saying goodbye in the summer from the 1st team squad were :
- Simone Pecorini 150k
- Fabio Castellano 300k
- Manuel Cicconi 225k
- Gabriel Morelli 275k
- Francisco Sartor 550k
- Simone Rosso €1.5m
- Gian Marco Nesta 950k
The first player that I made a move for was 19 year old wideman Daniel Maldini the son of Milan legend Paulo. Milan agreed a 2 year loan deal with the option of buying young Maldini outright for €10m at any time during the loan.
The second player to join the club in the summer was the free transfer of Nicholas Bonfanti the 19 year old attacker released by Internazionale will spend the first 6 months at the club in the Under 20 squad to both settle him in and play and train him in a wide role in preparation for a change in formation that I am thinking of implementing in the new year.
Signing number three is 23 year old right full back Alessandro Semperini from Brescia for €1.6m and will be our first choice ahead of Mattiia Lombardo who will more than likely rotate with Semperini for the forthcoming season.
We switch to the left next with the signing of 18 year old full back Filippo Grassi from Atalanta for €1.2m. Grassi will be our back up at left back for Emanuele Valeri.
Atalanta our city neighbours provide us with our next two signings with next transfer listed winger Christian Capone who we paid €2.6m for the 22 year old who gives us a quality option out wide.
Our third signing from Atalanta is our record transfer paid costing us €6.75m for 22 year old playmaker Filippo Melegoni who I feel is a quality addition to the squad who fits my long term philosophy.
Last but not least we went out and secured the loan signing of 21 year old defensive midfielder Marco Brescianni from Milan.
We ended the window with a net transfer spend of €8m give or take a few euros which I think we did ok in strengthening the squad.
Serie A Campionato 21/22 🇮🇹
The bookmakers are not giving us much of a chance with odds of 1000 / 1 win the title making us joint favourites to be relegated back to Serie B with Cosenza who were promoted via the play offs. They have got fellow promotion rivals Genoa to survive the drop come the business end of the season. Now I am in no means expecting anything other than a tough season but I do feel that we can match the boards expectation of fighting bravely against relegation and have faith in the players that I have decided will do it. We have a squad of players that is completely of Italian nationality made up with players who are entering their 3rd season at the club, players brought in to the club during the transfer window using the Lombardia Policy and players who have come through the clubs development system which is a priority for the club. If we had not got promoted at the end of last season we would have not used the transfer window to the extent that we have this summer instead promoting more of our youth but I feel that the current situation with being promoted required us to take a step back and not throw our youth in to the deep end at this level preferring to nurture their development before their big day.
I will however be looking to promote at least two players every season in to the 1st team squad from our youth development pathway. This season I have promoted both Valerio Bellino and Angelo Massimo D’Agostino from the youth ranks who will join Walter Angelozzi who I promoted last season.
Angelo Massimo D’Agostino
Before we kicked off our first Serie A campaign we started with a Coppa Italia 3rd qualifying round game at home to Spezia a team who with no disrespect to them we should be beating, however that was not to be the case with the visitors stunning the Città di Bergamo after just three minutes. After the early shock we started to play imposing ourselves on our visitors without getting a goal before the half time whistle.
I had decided to give debuts to three of our summer acquisitions Filippo Grassi started at left back and Alessandro Semprini starting at right back but it was our third debutant Daniel Maldini who got us back in to the game with an equaliser in the 68th minute but we failed to build on the young inside forwards goal with the game finishing 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes taking the game in to extra time were Spezia got the winner inflicting an early blow to us in knocking us out of the Coppa before the season had got underway.
We made our Serie A debut in the city of Udine against Udinese in the Stadio Friulli in what turned out to be an exciting end to game that looked like finishing in a 0-0 draw until we conceded a goal in the 92nd minute to lose the game 0-1. We certainly did not deserve to lose the game in this way but it’s a learning curve for us but more devastating was the news that Pietro Rovaglia would be sidelined until the new year after picking up an injury in the second half.
The Cittá di Bergamo was a sell out 25,000 capacity crowd for the derbi di Bergamo and the visit of our city rivals Atalanta BC whom we have a local but friendly rivalry with (at the moment). The pre match news conference ended with Atalanta manager Rafa Benitez saying that he expects us to get relegated (cheers Rafa). This is not the Atalanta of Gasperini and after a hard fought 0-0 draw I could not help but feel disappointed that we had not beat our city rivals after we had missed a few guilt edged chances with Flavio Junior Bianchi and Simone Mazzocchi both spurring chances but on a plus note we have our first top flight point.
Off the pitch we extended the contracts of Flavio Junior Bianchi the clubs all time leading goalscorer and goalkeeper Matteo Soncin. The board have given us a start date to upgrade the facilities which is a priority for the clubs future.
Valerio Bellino is named Serie A Under 19 player of the month after his succesful transition to our 1st team from our Under 20 squad.
We started the month off with a visit to Serie B playoff winners Cosenza who beat us 1-0 and drew 1-1 with us last season in Serie B and who nearly repeated the 1-0 scoreline but for a 94th minute Simone Mazzocchi penalty to rescue another point and a 1-1 draw.
Our first top flight win came in front of a crowd of 24,901 in the Cittá di Bergamo when we beat Hellas Verona 3-2 with our summer signing Filippo Melegoni scoring two first half goals including a stunner of a second goal in a man of the match performance. Daniel Maldini scored his 2nd club goal but limped off with an injury that will see him need a long stint in the treatment room.
Another 5 goal thriller however this time we were on the wrong end when we lost 2-3 to Parma after going 0-2 down in the first half and after conceding a third within minutes of the restart but we managed a fight back with goals from Simone Mazzocchi and Flavio Junior Bianchi that gave us a good twenty minutes to grab an equaliser and we came close on several occasions but the closest was in the last minutes when Mazzocchi hit the woodwork. It was not to be but a very good second half made up for a very dismal first.
The final match of the month saw League leaders Roma visit the Cittá di Bergamo which resulted in us putting in our best performance of the whole first half of the season when we beat the gladiators from Rome 2-1 with second half goals from Simone Mazzocchi and Filippo Melegoni that had put us 2 up with nine minutes to play but when Roma pulled one back we found ourselves hanging on and withstanding a Roman barrage until the final whistle.
With two wins and a draw from our four matches in September I was pleased with the transition that our Young Eagles had made after being promoted to the first team squad both Defender Angelo Massimo D’Agostino and Defender / Midfielder Valerio Bellino alongside Walter Angelozzi are paving the way for our youth development of Young Eagles showing that our commitment to youth development is creating opportunities for players to come through the pathway from the youth teams.
A chance for us to meet with our Serie B title rivals from last season when we travelled to face Marcelo Bielsa and his Genoa side. Last season we had two very good games against El Loco’s Griffins but it was our very own Eagles who came out on top in this game with Simone Mazzocchi and two late goals from both Flavio Junior Bianchi and Walter Angelozzi giving us a comprehensive 3-0 win and a welcome three points.
Another capacity crowd of 25,000 turned up for the first visit to the clubs Cittá di Bergamo stadium of League League Champions Juventus. We knew and expected a tough game but we have shown that we are not going to roll over for anybody and Juventus had to work hard for their 1-0 victory that came courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo goal that left Soncin unable to get an hand too.
Another tough game and another 0-1 defeat this time at the hands of Antonio Conte and his Internazionale side in the Giuseppe Meazza in Milan in front of 58,558 supporters. Again we fought well without getting a little luck and coming up against my nemesis Mauro Icardi who got the winner.
We end the month with our third consecutive 0-1 defeat this time at the hands of Fiorentina who are looking very good this season finding themselves in the top 3. Again our build up play looked to be in good form but a lack of goals is a little worrying and gives me a sleepless night and that’s no joke.
Sleepless nights thinking about tactics and the objective of remaining in Serie A I decide that I am not going to panic and stick to my plan of keeping the 424 / 442 until the end of the year at least. There are also rumours of a takeover at the club but the chairman speaks out and says that there is no truth in the rumours.
With just three games this month we kick off with a very good performance against Napoli at home with an appreciatively buoyant Cittá di Bergamo that witnessed a great game between two clubs going all out for the points but having to make do with a share of the spoils after a 1-1 draw with Flavio Junior Bianchi netting his 41st club goal.
Goal number 42 of his Società Sportiva Bergamo career after 11 minutes from Flavio Junior Bianchi is the catalyst for a 3-0 win over Cremonese with new boys Alessandro Semperini and Filippo Melegoni rounding off the victory.
A spectacular end to our home game against Cagliari who until the 88th minute led 2-0 until Mattia Lombardo who was an 81st minute substitute for Semperini not only got a goal back in the 89th minute but went on to score his an hour second earning a 2-2 draw in the 94th minute and an important point to keep our hopes of survival real.
We are not playing bad football and complete our first month, all be it three games unbeaten heading in to the last month of the year.
Away from the pitch Liverpool,Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are all chasing the signature of Michele Serefini one of our Young Eagles with bids for the 18 year old from €3.5m rising to €10m all being rejected at this current time but we may be open to increased offers come the January window.
We were forced to work hard to earn a creditable 0-0 draw when we faced Lazio in Bergamo to open the month. A good result against a top six side and another point from safety thanks to a quality performance from a centre back pairing of Mondonico and D’Agostino in a game that see’s us use three of our Young Eagles in the Starting XI.
Another 0-0 draw this time away to Bologna who are having a good start to their season under Sinisa Mihajlovic. We have chances to win the game but Bianchi, Mazzocchi, Angelozzi and Melegoni are all guilt of missing chances but we move on and take another point.
We extend our unbeaten run to six matches with a 1-1 draw away to Sampdoria under the guidance of Claudio Ranieri who is very complimentary to us both pre match and afterwards like the the gentleman he is admitting that his side were lucky to get a late equaliser after our left back Emanuele Valeri had given us a 1-0 lead before the break. We just could not finish the game off with a second and was made to pay with a late Bonazolli goal.
Our unbeaten run of six games comes to an end when high flying Torino come to the Cittá di Bergamo and inflict a 0-1 defeat upon us to end the year in another game that we fail to convert our chances. The new year should see both Maldini and Rovaglia return from injury as I am now contemplating a change of formation.
So we end the year in 14th position in the League 8 points ahead of the relegation zone which the board are very pleased about but we have a lot of work still to do in the second half of the season if we are to remain in the top tier. It is noticeable that we are struggling for goals but I will be keeping faith in Bianchi, Mazzocchi, Rovaglia and Bonfanti who spent the first half of the season in the Under 20 squad after his free transfer in the summer. I am targeting 40 points which should be enough to avoid relegation meaning that if we can repeat our points per game rate from our opening 17 matches we should end up with around 43 points which is the minimum performance that I will demand in the 2nd half of the season.
Serie A Campionato 21-22 Table
Chelsea Poach Young Eagle
Chelsea have sign sought after 19 year old defender Michele Luigi Serafini for a fee of €6.75m with add ons that could see the transfer fee rise to €15.5m. Whilst we don’t want to sell any of our future talent, I will sometimes make a judgement and let a player leave if I think it’s the right thing for the club. Serafini was in our Under 20 squad and was part of our Under 18 squad that won the Italian U18 Division One title in 2021.
Well that rounds up this post which if you have got this far I thank you and hope that you return to see how the second half of the season transpired. Keep safe and until next time