In the past few weeks the amount of press received by Swindon Town boss, Paolo Di Canio has been incredibly high after the sharp suited Italian had a bit of ‘falling out’ with a player on TV. This hasn’t been the only moment of controversy that Swindon fans have had to endure. While Di Canio has garnered all of the attention a former Sheffield Wednesday team mate has also been doing a bit of coaching. Benito Carbone has taken over at Varese, a side that has performed small miracles in the past three seasons, and is looking to continue their fairytale.
The story begins a short while ago, just a short drive from Varese, Pavia. Carbone was the captain and talisman of the Pavia side. Leading them to safety, then promotion scoring 31 goals in his three years as a player for the club. He was handed the youth team before being asked to take charge of the Pavia first team, leading them to safety again as manager this time – appointed last March – once they had reached the Lega Pro top tier.
This short, sharp successful spell as Pavia first team coach had a number of Serie B clubs interested in his services for this campaign – the most interested being Gubbio and Varese. In the end – as we full well know – it was Varese who convinced Benny to sign a one year contract. Carbone has also been joined by former Varese, QPR and Perugia player Mauro Milanese, who has taken on the role of Sporting Director and has been responsible for the club’s summer transfers.
One of the biggest challenges that Carbone faces will be moving the club out of the shadow of his predecessor, and now club hero, Giuseppe Sannino who lifted the club three divisions in his short tenure. He has promised that his side will “depend on youth” and have looked to the lower leagues to find talents, sourcing six of their summer signings from Lega Pro sides. Carbone defines his Varese as an “aggressive side” that will “push forward often”, he has preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation so far this season with Neto Perreira behind Martinetti and Carrozza playing wide on the left – but there are no fixtures as “no one is untouchable”.
Things haven’t gone swimmingly for Carbone though, and Varese’s upcoming game against an in-form Albinoleffe has already – just four competitive games into the season – been labelled as Carbone’s last chance saloon. After defeat away to Torino a week ago the manager was somewhat disillusioned. “We lacked the composure necessary in front of goal to finish off our good play” explained Benny “but I’m not worried because I know I have a good squad”.
Defeat away from home may not have worried Carbone, but his “good squad” are yet to score in a competitive fixture. They were knocked out by Lega Pro side Avellino in their only Coppa Italia fixture and have played approximately 360 minutes of Serie B without giving the fans cause for celebration.
Add to that pile of problems the fact that last Saturday they lost 2-0 to Livorno. At home. Varese had been unbeaten at home in the league for an epoch approaching 3 years, comprising 55 games. Opta inform us that they had won 38 and drawn 17 games at the Franco Ossola before Saturday’s defeat. Losing the air of invincibility has given more emphasis to the whispers lamenting the departure of Giuseppe Sannino.
The situation at Varese isn’t the usual malaise though, and is clearly the end of a cycle. As well as the exit of Sannino, the incredibly talented Sporting Director Sean Sogliano has left to continue his career progression at Palermo. Some very important players also packed their bags this summer. Emanuele Pesoli, who was one of the best defenders in Serie B, has gone to Siena. Striker, Osarimen Ebagua, has joined Serie B big boys Torino and right back Eros Pisano – nicknamed ‘il veterano’ despite only being 24 years old – has also joined Palermo. Things are far from rosy.
While it may all seem like doom and gloom, there have been a few green shoots. The side contains a few players who are set to be the most exciting players in the division this season. Twenty four year old forward Enis Nadarevic has worked numerous chances from wide positions for Giuseppe De Luca or Neto Pereira to get onto the end of – but alas to no avail, thus far.
De Luca – nicknamed ‘the mosquito’ – scored 24 goals for Varese’s primavera side last season, helping take them incredibly close to a title. He was promoted to the first team squad by Carbone and Milanese instead of going after, journey man and Serie B specialist, Simone Tiribocchi, a firm affirmation of their belief in youth.
Then there is 22 year old Jasmin Kurtic, the latest in a long line of Slovenians arriving in Italy – they’re rather fashionable now, don’t you know. Kurtic, on loan from Palermo, has displayed a supreme touch, ability to dribble and expansive range of passing in his first few games for Varese, it is hoped he can assist Neto Pereira with the creative responsibilities in midfield.
It remains to be seen whether chairman Antonio Rosati is prepared to believe in the Milanese-Carbone project, but Benito would be justified in feeling a little paranoid, after all chairmen in Italy can be very trigger happy. Last season in Serie B 10 managers failed to make it to the end of the season and there were 14 changes in total before the start of the season, in fact 6 didn’t even make it to Christmas.
Carbone was affectionately nicknamed ‘Harry Potter’ by Pavia fans after his magic on the field helped save the side from relegation, he’ll need to invoke those powers now to avoid the sack.
Follow Rocco Cammisola on Twitter (@rcammisola).
Image from La Provincia di Varese.