When I took the role as Cagliari manager, the board wanted a top half finish then to work on becoming the “best of the rest” in Serie A. However, as soon as we ticked over into the 2032/33 campaign they suddenly expected us to qualify in the Champions League places.
That meant going from 10th then 8th in the last 2 seasons to finishing in the top four without adding to our bank balance of £30 million to bolster our 17 first-team players. Which seems totally ridiculous! Furthermore, my contract expires at the end of the 2032/33 campaign, so I fully expect not to be in charge of Cagliari come the start of next season.
Massive summer turnover
The number of loanees we had at the club last season meant huge turnover was inevitable this summer. And that wasn’t helped by goalkeeper Alessandro Plizzari deciding he wanted out and we ended up moving him on for £2.3 million, which left us without a goalkeeper. I also moved on a few backup players and sold left-back José Gabriel Gutiérrez, who wasn’t very good, for £6 million to Genoa.
And that meant we needed a lot of signings with very little money, but we duly delivered.
The biggest two signings were a centre defender and a goalkeeper. Lindani Marengo, who’d been on loan at Cagliari the last 2 seasons, joined from Inter for £11.25 million and Francesco Abiuso, who I’d been tracking for years, came in from Napoli for £10 million.
We also snapped up a host of young talent that will be in and around the first-team in Danish midfielder Jonas Mikkelsen and striker Nicolai Jensen, holding midfielder Jordan Knowles and Italian striker Calogero Maccarone, who arrived on a free transfer from Genoa.
Given our lack of finances, I also dipped into the loan market to bolster the squad with Sporting right-back Joaquim Brito, Spurs left winger Tom Hardy, Man City striker Matty Squire, and Barcelona attacker Albert. But the most important loan signing may be Inter left back Patrick Stendardo.
In other news, the biggest transfer of the summer saw Manchester City sign my former striker Diego Guitérrez, who I signed for £5 million, from Valencia for £134 million! And you’ll see he’s gone pretty incredible!
(And you’ll see I just switched to a new skin)…
Serie A gets under way
We began the season at home to newly-promoted Chievo Verona. But we really struggled and had Thomas De Lucia to thank for edging us a very unconvincing 1-0 win.
I’ve decided – well, been forced into – to go with a 4-4-2 diamond to start the season. Mainly because we don’t have a right-winger and only have Demian Aime who can play left-wing… although he’s technically about the only attacking midfielder too!.. and I want to try and play 2 up top. But we’ll see how that goes.
But we were much more convincing in a trip to Bari, in which left-back Stendardo teed up Maccarone’s first Cagliari goal and scored his first, then De Lucia added a third.
We failed to take any momentum from that as we drew 1-1 at home to Bologna, but a better point followed as goalkeeper Abiuso kept a clean sheet at his former club Napoli. But got back to winning ways with a solid 2-0 win over Salernitana that took us to 14 matches without a defeat going back to last season! For the record, the club’s all-time record is 16, set back in 1969.
That record extended to 15 as we put in a brilliant performance to win 5-1 at Genoa. The main man De Lucia bagged a fantastic club record 4 goals, while Aime scored his first for the club and got 2 assists.
We equalled the club’s all-time unbeaten record of 16 matches with a solid 1-0 win over 3rd-placed Lazio, in which midfielder Erik Argiolas bagged his first of the season. But the great run came to an end, unsurprisingly, with a 2-0 defeat at Inter.
We then drew at home to Benevento before a great 0-0 draw at Juventus, whose striker Joshua Zirkzee missed an injury-time penalty. But got back to winning ways with Aime again claiming both assists in a 2-1 success over SPAL.
Draws with Sassuolo and Udinese followed before consecutive wins at home to Empoli and Sampdoria, which sent us on another streak of 7 games unbeaten. That continued with consecutive 2-2 draws at Fiorentina – who scored with their first 2 shots – then at Roma, thanks to a De Lucia brace. Then two more draws with a 0-0 at home to AC Milan then 1-1 at Atalanta despite playing with 10 men for 70 minutes.
And we moved into 2033 by taking that streak of draws to 5 in a row as an absolute epic at Chievo Verona ended 3-3, with Bonci scoring a brace.
That also takes us to 12 games unbeaten and sitting in 5th in Serie A heading into 2033 and the second half of the season. Once again, the main man responsible for this has been De Lucia, who is currently the top scorer in the league having scored 15 of our 29 goals!
Join us next time to see how far we can take Cagliari in our second full season, and whether we’ll get the sack if we don’t meet the board’s expectation of Champions League qualification!