Genoa Win in the Derby Della Lanterna Can Kickstart Their Season
What a difference a day makes. Genoa's Fabio Liverani will be forgiven if he can't stop humming Dinah Washington's classic right now, because before Sunday's game his side hadn't won this season.
Ridiculous as it might seem after only three games, he looked like being the first manager on the Serie A sack list.
Then along came the weekend's game with Sampdoria, and all is changed.
The like a good derby in Italy.
There are five local rivalries in Serie A this season, and if that wasn't enough, there's the Derby d'Italia between Juventus and Inter, and the Derby del Sole between Roma and Napoli. The port city of Genoa's Derby della Lanterna is always among the most anticipated, however.
The Grifone are the country's oldest professional football club; the Blucerchiati the youngest. They share a crowded and passionate city and an atmospheric home ground.
And for 2013-14's first local derby, the Luigi Ferraris Stadium was packed to the rafters.
Before kick-off, Liverani's name was top of every journalist's list for liking sacking candidates. The former Lazio midfielder was promoted from the youth set-up by club owner Enrico Preziosi, but after two defeats in the league's opening games, the common consensus was that the president was considering a change.
Those plans will be put on hold, following a sublime display from Genoa.
The Grifone were by far and away the better side on the night, putting Samp to the sword in front of their own fans with a 0-3 mauling. An early strike from Luca Antonini set them off, before Emanuele Calaio doubled the lead just after half time.
The icing on the cake then came in the form of a perfect free-kick from the master, Francesco Lodi.
Preziosi has always been a man of little patience—and that's a bigger problem for Genoa than whoever is currently occupying the bench.
He's hired eight managers since 2010, when he fired the affable and dependable Gian Piero Gasperini for failing to maintain a high-standard after he'd lost his best players to bigger clubs.
Gasperini had brought the Rossoblu back to Serie A and gotten them into Europe only to take the blame for the club's lack of vision and long-term strategy. And the fall guys have gone down like dominoes ever since.
They're a better side then their 17th place last season suggests. Yes, losing your first two games in a league campaign isn't ideal, but it shouldn't be taken out of context. Liverani didn't lose to other mid-table teams—he lost to Inter and Fiorentina.
Clearly, he won't be the last to do so, either.
If you're a cynic—I am—you could suggest that Liverani only got the gig in the first place because of Preziosi's lack of imagination. The Serie A has had a number of young manager success stories of late, and he figured Genoa could have a go as well. Promote a former player from the youth to the big time. After all, it worked out well for Vincenzo Montella.
But however he got the job, the man now deserves a decent chance to do it. There's a good squad in Genoa, and with the right man at the wheel they could do well in the league and make a good run in the Coppa Italia.
Alberto Gilardino has shown his class since returning from Bologna, and though his fans will always lament the fact he never reached the career heights he might have, the fact he's still called upon to wear the Italy shirt is evidence enough that he still has plenty to give.
Gila was superb against Samp, creating chances and playing teammates into space in the way that only the best strikers can.
Lodi dictated play perfectly and took his chance from a free-kick—won by Gilardino—with a shot that should give keepers nightmares.
Other players like Matuzalem, Sime Vrsaljko, Davide Biondini and Calaio all have much to offer and would not be out of place at bigger clubs. It's a decent bunch of players, and one that Liverani seems to understand and be able to shape into a functioning unit.
Livorno have won both their games since losing to Roma on the opening day, while the Zebrette have been in lacklustre form. Having lost to Czech side FC Slovan Liberec in the Europa League's qualifying round, they've had a loss, a win, and a draw in the league.
Six points is a possibility for Genoa. And if they get them it might inspire some heroics for the following trip to Napoli, where a draw would seen as success.
The slow start is now behind them, but Liverani's Genoa need to keep the results coming and develop into a side with something resembling the potential hinted at by their team sheet. If they can do that, who knows?
Maybe their boss can even keep his job. That would be a real achievement.
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