Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Owen Neilson On January - 28 - 2012

Serie B Focus : Fulvio Pea Topples Torino

The flabby bull has finally, if only by the smallest of margins, been squeezed from the summit of Serie B.

After a run of 114 days as league leaders, Torino’s second 1-1 draw with Cittadella was enough to see Sassuolo claim top spot on goal-difference and il Toro pushed back into the pack.  It’s taken brilliant consistency from the Neroverde and Verona and another blast of victories from Pescara to erode Torino’s advantage, but deservedly, as Giampiero Ventura’s side no longer merited first position.

His stubborn persistence with an uninventive 4-2-2-2 formation has seen goals dry up, scoring ten in ten while Hellas put together an eight-game winning streak and Sassuolo have tasted defeat only once in the last seventeen games.

The column pays huge credit to the mastermind of that run, Fulvio Pea. Not only has he led his side back to the summit after a brief spell on matchday 5, but achieved it all in his first season as a coach in Serie B.

A student of calcio, Pea never played professionally, starting his coaching career in 1989 aged 22 and spent six years with varying levels of the youth sector at Fanfulla when the senior side were in one of Italy’s many Interregionale divisions. A spell at Alcione was followed by two years at Inter and in 2001 he moved to Bulgaria to take control of CSKA Sofia’s youth team before returning to Italy as assistant coach to Gigi Simoni at Ancona. Simoni won the Coppa Italia with Napoli in 1962 and the UEFA Cup with Internazionale in 1998, and the pair helped Ancona back to Serie A in 2003 for the first time in ten years.

Pea followed Simoni the following season to Napoli and then Siena before taking a senior position at Lucchese for two years.

Incidentally, Simoni, after a five year hiatus from management reappeared on the bench to replace Fabio Pecchia at promoted Gubbio last October. In his first match he hosted top of the league Torino on a run of eight wins and two draws but the 73 year-old managed to craft a 1-0 win, still the biggest shock of the season.

Pea left Lucchese after two mid-table finishes in Serie C and went to the Primavera of Sampdoria where his side swept the board, taking the club’s first and only Scudetto, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa all in one season.

The Nerazzurri youth was his final stop in the time of Jose Mourinho, though Pea is insistent in interviews the two sides were very much apart, he noted the importance of the ball in every session which transferred an enthusiasm and enjoyment to the senior squad that he later adopted with his own side. He went on to lead the Primavera to a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in a UEFA Grass Roots challenge match, and last March to victory in the prestigious Viareggio youth tournament before accepting the Sassuolo job.

Former Milan supremo Arrigo Sacchi recently mooted the point that more people from outside football should become involved in management and Pea is a shining testament to that notion. After finishing 16th in the league last season, the Neroverde are amongst the favourites for automatic promotion and an inaugural campaign in Serie A, a prospect bolstered by the January signing of Simone Missiroli, one of the most potent attacking midfielders in the division.

Success has been founded on a resolute defence, conceding 17 in 23 games, but with Missiroli behind Gianluca Sansone, who has been insatiable in recent weeks with 9 goals in his last 5 games, and the tarrying of Isaac Cofie and Carl Valeri, who played for Australia in the 2010 World Cup, Pea has the tools to realize the dreams of benefactor Giorgio Squinzi.

Should Pea achieve that aim, he will exceed the accomplishments of current Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri who took Sassuolo into Serie B in 2008, and earmark himself for a well-earned career in Serie A.

‘Thank you, Sir! May I have another’

After the waxiest lyrics about achievements at the top, it’s worth a mention that Ascoli, saddled with a seven point penalty for match-fixing and money problems fled the Serie B basement on Saturday.

Gigi Simoni’s Gubbio were the scalp, with Massimo Silva notching up his 5th win since taking over from Fabrizio Castori in November. Rooted to the bottom since September, the result meant they rose one place to the rarefied air of 21st, pulling Gubbio into the bottom three while Nocerina, also promoted last summer, lost 2-0 away at Brescia to go last.

Salvatore Campilongo, who was brought in to save the side after Gaetano Auteri was sacked, lasted only two games, the club have now re-instated Auteri for this weekend’s game against Livorno to arrest a run of 8 defeats and 3 draws.

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