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Pescara benefiting from the wisdom and flamboyance of Zdenek Zeman

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By Andrew Harding

Monday 19 September 2011

The summer saw many interesting moves from Coaches across the peninsula and while the general attention was being paid to the Serie A clubs looking for fresh direction on the field, it was Serie B side Pescara who made one of the most thought-provoking appointments with the hiring of Zdenek Zeman. Facilitated by Eusebio Di Francesco’s move up a division to Lecce, Pescara’s appointment means Zeman is just one step away from returning to the Italian top-flight.

Zeman has led a remarkable career to date and is well-known for his outspoken nature, his smoking habit and on a more profound level, his commitment to attacking football. He rose to prominence at the helm of Foggia who in his second tenure at the club, not only took them into Serie A but took them close to European qualification. He moved on to bigger clubs first with Lazio and them with Roma when his outspoken tendencies came to the fore with his accusations of illegal doping aimed at Juventus.

It would appear that that would be the peak of Zeman’s career as opportunities began to dry up via a whole variety of scenarios. Zeman would never admit he was in the wrong but his constant use of 4-3-3 and a pressing game meant that results were never a given. To a neutral such a characteristic is to be applauded but to potential employers, it became off-putting. Zeman claimed that it was a conspiracy against him created by Luciano Moggi after his allegations against Juventus. The timing of Zeman’s allegations of questionable medical practices supposedly employed by La Vecchia Signora and looking at his career in overview would suggest a connection but to do so without examining other reasons would be wasteful. The sporting evidence would suggest that it was more results and also the attitude that Zeman displayed that did not impress potential suitors.

Zeman did make a return to Serie A in 2004 following a sojourn in Turkey and a few unsuccessful tenures in Serie B. The 2004-05 season was one of moderate success for Zeman but he resigned following the season’s finale. He would return to Lecce again but it appeared that Zeman’s career had declined enough for him to be perceived as finished in coaching. A horrid short spell at Crvena Zvezda in 2008 appeared to be the end of the road for the Czech-born tactician.

A familiar name began the possible relaunch of Zeman’s career. Last season saw Zeman return to the bench of Foggia and while they were unsuccessful in their bid for promotion, the excitement and unpredictability intrigued and delighted in equal measure.

This summer one of his disciples in his Roma days, Eusebio Di Francesco moved on up to an old stomping ground of Zeman’s, Lecce and now Zeman is in charge of all sporting matters at Pescara. His Pescara team is respectable and with such a steadfast dedication to attack, Pescara’s leading striker Ciro Immobile will be high up in the scoring charts.

The results have been entertaining so far and also predictable by Zeman’s standards. After five rounds, il Delfini are in seventh place and have scored 11 goals while conceding 10. Some things do not change but Zeman’s commitment to entertainment will mean great viewing for fans of Calcio young and old. For sentimental reasons, it would be nice to see Zeman back in the top-flight. Now aged 64, it would probably be the last occasion.

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