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Can Donadoni improve Parma fortunes?

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By Charles Ducksbury

Friday 13 January 2012

Parma this week announced that Roberto Donadoni would be the man charged with leading the Ducali to Serie A survival. Where can the former Azzurri coach succeed where previous incumbent Franco Colomba failed?

It’s unfortunate in life and particularly football that in some instances, no matter what you do or how successful you are, you will always be remembered for the one time things didn‘t quite work out. Steve McLaren will forever be associated with failing with the England national team, even though he has since won a league title abroad. Roberto Baggio, despite being one of the greatest Italian players of all time will always be linked with missing the crucial penalty in the 1994 World Cup final. And so it seems, Roberto Donadoni will never shake of the tag of failure during his time as Coach of the Azzurri.

Donadoni has led something of a nomadic existence as a Calcio tactician, with the Bergamo native only leading a club side for more than 25 games twice, and that was with Livorno twice (in 2002-03 and again between 2004-06.) It’s incredible that his time as Italy Coach was the highest number of games he has led any one team (23) other than the Tuscans, despite spells at Lecco, Genoa, Napoli and Cagliari. The job he has undertaken at Parma gives him a chance to set some roots down and prove he is capable of coaching at the top level.

The former Milan great had a demeanour of someone excited about the challenge ahead in the press conference to announce his arrival. As he spoke to the assembled media, he preferred to look up rather than down, despite the low position the Gialloblu find themselves in, stating ‘This club should be about more than just survival. Our position isn’t so bad. I’m here because I believe we should be targeting the rivals in front of us, and trying to overtake them. We can achieve a respectable position.’

But is Donadoni’s confidence in his squad justified? The Emilia-Romagna side currently lay in 15th position, seven points ahead of the drop zone. But being only eight points adrift of seventh placed Roma suggests Donadoni could be correct in his assertions of looking up rather than down. The slight gap between themselves and top half security hints that it’s down to details as to why Parma aren’t higher up. For example, all of Parma’s strikers combined have netted a miserly total of four goals, less than Trequartista and key player Sebastian Giovinco has mustered on his own (seven.) And possesion is a problem, with the Gialloblu averaging 44.82% a game, the third lowest in the division. Improvements in these two vital areas will see the spate of draws that ultimately cost Franco Colomba his job turn into wins.

Donadoni’s first training session at Collecchio focussed almost exclusively on tactics and formations. He tried both a four man and three man defence, a midfield diamond and even the Christmas tree formation. But with relatively short notice until Siena visit on Sunday, it’s believed any changes will be minimal before the hard work begins next week. In the transfer marker, Parma have already netted right-back Jonathan from Inter for the rest of the season, whilst Sporting Director Pietro Leonardi has also been looking to boost the defence and midfield, with moves for Daniele Gastaldello of Sampdoria and Michele Pazienza of Juventus being mentioned, but no news on a striker the Ducali desperately need.

Friday signals the start of a weekend of festivities in the city of Parma to celebrate it’s patron Sant'Ilario. Roberto Donadoni has a long way to go before reaching saint-like status in the city, but he could instigate a different kind of celebration within Stadio Ennio Tardini if he can begin his reign with victory over Siena.

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