Genoa fans must be the most confused fans in the entire Italian peninsula. Take for example the protagonists of our story: Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo. Here is the recounting of a conversation had between the three of them at the last Genoa home game.
Giovanni: ”Hi Aldo! We haven’t seen you for quite a while now. How are you?”
Aldo: “Hey Giova’. I know, I know. Can you believe this is the first game I’ve been able to get to this season? I’ve been in and out of hospital for 6 months now, I feel like a yo-yo. If it’s not me, then it’s Rita – varicose veins! When you get to this age it’s to be expected, but I’m here now.”
Giacomo: “Well, it’s great to see you. You haven’t missed much”
All three men find their seats and settle down just a few minutes before kick-off. They watch the game quietly for a few minutes before Aldo pipes up.
A: “Hey, I thought that Malesani bloke had a huge mop of hair. Someone must’ve taken him to the barber over Christmas, eh?”
Gio: “Mannagia Aldo, Preziosi sacked Malesani weeks ago. That guy is never going to lose his hair. That’s Pasquale Marino; he was at Parma last season. He’s already going bald too.”
A: “Oh. Right, ok. Hey, I hear we bought Caracciolo from Brescia. Y’know I think he could be pretty good. Just look at him go! Mannagia!”
Gio: “Boh! Caracciolo’s already packed his bags. We sold that bean pole to Novara.”
A: “Oh, what about Criscito?”
Gio: “Man, when is the last time you saw a newspaper? Criscito is with the Russians now, he’s gone to Zenit”
Giacomo interrupts: “Will you two just sit down, shut up, eat your panino and watch the game! …
Genoa is an important side in Italian football history. During the early portion of the 20th century the side raced to 9 national titles, but since the last of their titles in the 1923-24 season they have failed to win any more – adding a solitary Coppa Italia to their major honours in 1937.
After some 12 years outside the top flight, the side were eventually returned to Serie A by toy manufacturer Enrico Preziosi in 2007. It has been far from plain sailing since then, though, and that tenth title continues to elude i Griffoni (Griffins).
The footballing landscape has changed dramatically since Genoa’s golden years. Money has created a relatively imbalanced league that sees only 3 sides regularly standing a chance of challenging for honours. There are more prizes on offer for sides outside the money now though. European football is a worthwhile aim and one that the side tasted in recently when Giampiero Gasperini took the side into the Europa League in 2008-09.
Players and managers have come and gone at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris but the one man who remains is Enrico Preziosi. Preziosi is deserving of plenty of criticism for the manner in which he has looked after his team.
Since that marvellous season under Gasperini, there has been a scattergun approach from Preziosi to buying players. Only 4 members of that fine squad remain in Genoa – Marco Rossi, Bosko Jankovic, Giandomenico Mesto and Alessio Scarpi. As those four men have continued wearily for the Rossoblu, entire squads have experienced Genoa’s revolving door recruitment drive.
The number of players purchased resembles the players sold – which is fine until the numbers are examined. In the last summer window alone the club were involved in 46 transfers (26 in and 20 out). It’s hardly an anomaly. The number of players bought by the club in transfer windows regularly reaches double figures.
The outrageous number of transfers has led to stockpiling players, most of whom will never see the chalk on the touchline. Udinese striker Antonio Floro Flores spent last season at the club and claimed to have enjoyed his time but he “realised there were 10 strikers ahead of me in the pecking order” While this is an exaggeration it underlines the undeniable frustration many squad players must experience in Genoa.
After confrontations with the Genoa fans a year ago, Preziosi threatened to sell the club if his son was verbally harassed again. Preziosi also acknowledged he made mistakes saying “I am aware of the negative season we are having and I accept the fact that I made a few mistakes during the summer transfer market, but I am going to fix things and improve the team soon”
Worryingly though, the president appears to be more concerned with helping other teams than bringing stability to his own stable. He has sold numerous of his best players to Lazio at low cost and bends over backwards to do the bidding of AC Milan’s Adriano Galliani.
Genoa has provided both Kevin-Prince Boateng and Stephan El Sharaawy to AC Milan in suspiciously contrived deals as well as allowing Alexander Merkel to return on loan – he has shone for Genoa this season. Preziosi made no effort to hide his friendship with Galliani when asked about Merkel:
“We did Milan a favour seeing as we have a relationship of collaboration with them and that they do have a few problems in midfield.”
Preziosi is the owner of a major Italian toy manufacturer, but it appears to everyone that Genoa is his biggest toy. If he fails to tidy up this mess, the Duracells will be all over the floor and, rather than that elusive first star on the shirt, a nasty fall awaits.
As the 3 men leave the ground after a 3-2 win over Udinese, they bid each other farewell. “See you in 2 weeks for the Napoli game!” Giovanni says. The ever optimistic Giacomo responds “We’ll probably lose anyway…”