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Adam Digby On January - 20 - 2011

Roberto Donadoni: Showing Leonardo The Way?

This season was something of a new era for Sardinian side Cagliari, who lost coach Massimiliano Allegri to Milan after a successful two year spell in charge. Under the guidance of the man who won the Coach of the Year award in each of his two seasons at the Stadio Sant’Elia, they had comfortably retained their Serie A status and done so playing a high quality brand of attacking football.

As Allegri began his San Siro adventure the Rossoblu turned to Pierpaolo Bisoli, fresh from leading minnows Cesena to promotion from Serie B for the first time in almost twenty years. As usual they were relatively inactive during the transfer window, apart from a still on-going dispute between the President Massimo Cellino and goalkeeper Federico Marchetti.

Marchetti returned from the World Cup - where he stood in for the injured Gigi Buffon in all three matches Italy played - and tried to engineer a transfer to Sampdoria, enraging the Catania owner who then froze him completely out of the squad. It seems he will move on this January with Genoa and Juventus being reported as possible destinations.

Bisoli was something of a disaster, his dictatorial style clashing constantly with the senior members of the squad and the contrast between him and the previous coach as glaring as that between Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho. Like the Spaniard, Bisoli never made it to Christmas, losing his job in early November after collecting just two wins all season.

To replace him Cellino turned to Roberto Donadoni, a man much more in keeping with the style and spirit instilled in the squad by Allegri. The improvement, again mirroring events at Inter, was instantaneous. They won the next two fixtures and have taken fifteen points from the eight games since the former Italy winger took control of the side.

It is an impressive turn-around, led by a man who struggled in his previous two coaching posts, first leading the Azzurri through a terrible Euro 2008 campaign that ultimately led to the return of Marcello Lippi, and a six month spell at Napoli which saw him dismissed as they struggled to overcome the sacking of Edy Reja.

What makes the clear improvement more intriguing is the fact that much like Leonardo it has been done without a major tactical shift and obviously - due to the timing of his appointment - no changes in personnel either. In exactly the same way as the new Nerazzurri boss he has merely gone back to a method, style and atmosphere that brought success in the past.

Cagliari’s defensive solidity should not be underestimated as, despite their early season woes, they have still only conceded nineteen goals in their twenty league games thus far. At the other end Alessandro Matri has weighed in with an impressive nine goals while there have been consistently good displays from Radja Nainggolan, Andrea Cossu and Michael Agazzi while Nene and even Robert Acquafresca have made important contributions,

Unlike his fellow former Milan midfielder however Donadoni receives little of the media spotlight that shines unrelentlessly on the photogenic Brazilian. Of course the difference in stature of the two clubs plays a huge role, as does the less high profile nature of the man Donadoni replaced, especially in comparison to the giant sized footsteps left by Mourinho.

They may not be winning the European Cup anytime soon, nor even repeating their amazing 1970 fairytale, but as Cagliari sit ninth in Serie A, above Fiorentina and Sampdoria, that is undoubtedly a remarkable achievement. While Leonardo is quick to point to the Portuguese inspiration behind his blueprint for success, he could just as easily gaze across the water to Sardinia and see a similar path being taken.

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2 Responses so far.

  1. Philip Gatt says:

    Very good and interesting post. Makes my coffee taste even better this morning.

    Only yesterday I was talking about Donadoni with a Sardinian, he seems very pleased with what he’s doing, though still weary of their president.

    Enjoyed reading this very much. Keep it up mister.

  2. Michelangelo says:

    Donadoni did bad during European cup (but Azzurri were knocked out by the future winner after pk)
    He did bad also on Napoli bench. In my opinion it appened because of huge pression in those situations. Now he can work in peace, and he also can grow up as a manager.

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