NOVARA, ITALY - JUNE 05: Fans of Novara.
For the start of the 2011-2012 season, SB Nation previews each of the 20 clubs in Italy's top flight. Novara are next up, promoted from Serie B.
That goal by Marco Rigoni against Reggina not only levelled the scoring, but gave Novara the result that sent them into a play-off final to get into Serie A. After only getting promoted into Serie B for the first time in 33 years the season before everyone has been in disbelief.
Novara ended the first leg of their final against Padova with a goalless draw. In the return leg at home they did not disappoint, winning two-nil, and for the first time in 55 years Novara were back in Serie A.
The ‘Azzurri' are from Piedmont, were Juventus are based, but are actually closer to Milan then Turin. Last time Novara played in Serie A, USSR was invading Hungary and Attilio Tesser, their current manager, wasn't even born.
The real turning point in the history of ‘Azzurri' was marked by the acquisition of the club by the De Salvo family in 2006. They brought in a sound business plan, and the facilities the club desperately needed.
It's only the 17th time an Italian side has made a double jump of divisions in the space of two years since 1930. Although fellow Serie A side Cesena were the last to do the double jump.
The two men given the most credit for this amazing achievement are manager Attilio Tesser and ex-sporting director Pasquale Sensibile. Without breaking they bank they invested in youth and proven talent at low prices. An example of this is striker Pablo Gonzalez (and ex-postman), who they brought in for €80,000 but sold to Palermo for €5million. Tesser has something to prove, as he was coming of the back of getting sacked at four consecutive clubs.
The first person to leave this summer however was Sensibile, although fans tried desperately to convince him to stay. Sampdoria came calling, and a challenge that he could not turn down, trying to get back into the top division. The new sporting director is Carlo Pederzoli, who has worked at Liverpool and Milan. Needless to say they are in safe hands.
The other so called ‘secret' to Novara's success has been their pitch, the 10,000 capacity ‘Silvio Piola'. It will be the first Serie A ground to boast a synthetic surface. They only lost two games at home in the last two seasons. It will also have its capacity doubled to 22,000. How the Sneijders' and Patos' deal with it remains to be seen.
The Patron Massimo De Salvo used the money Novara made in promotion to build a state of the art training facility. De Salvo's very sound investment will last them longer than any player or coach. It includes multiple pitches, gym and laboratories. It also boasts a beach soccer arena.
Out: Novara have lost their two best attackers in Gonzalez and Cristian Bertani, who have gone to Palermo and Sampdoria respectively. That has been a huge blow, even though they made a nifty profit on both. Along with Simone Motta, who they still have, those three scored the majority of the goals, with 71 of 115 goals that the ‘Azzurri' have scored in the last two years.
In: The biggest signing so far has been a co-ownership of Takayuki Morimoto with Catania. The board made this move mainly to sell shirts and get media attention. With Morimoto being the only Japanese player in Serie A. They've made other reinforcements in the form of Santiago Garcia (defender), Paolo Hernán Dellafiore (defender), Riccardo Meggiorini (attacker) and Andrea Mazzarani (midfielder) among others. All of these players come from mid-table Serie A sides, but are not getting a game. Overall some sound investment but no real proven talent for the set up that they have made.
They have been linked to Milan's attacker Alberto Paloschi, and if they don't get a player of that quality I fear for them. They better hope bigger sides are willing to loan out players that aren't getting minutes but are good enough players to start.
What to expect:
Teams might look at Novara and think it's an easy win, but that's what the Serie B sides though. They will undoubtedly be a hard team to beat, especially at home, as they will have a solid setup. If you just look at their Copa Italia run last season, they beat Parma and Siena, eventually losing out to Milan in a very tight contest. They will never give up, and it's something that you have to admire about them. When it comes down to the last few week of the season, your guess is as good as anyone's. They could do a Cesena, and stay up, but I wouldn't put money on it.
Morimoto: I personally don't rate him that highly, and he will not replace the attacking line-up that was already there. He is the ‘big name signing' so far, and for Novara's sake I hope he's not the last.
Marco Rigoni: The author of that goal against Reggina, and an interracial part of the Novara midfield. An ex-Juventus player and he also represented Italy at underage level. Being in his thirties now, he will be the one to guide the youngsters along.
Samir Ujkani: One of the youngest members of the squad, and the number one goalkeeper. He was a revelation last season on loan from Palermo, his move has now been made permanent. He also represents his country, Albania, at senior level.
Potential Breakout Star
This will be a season of potential breakout stars for Novara, as they have loaned in so many quality young players. All the players they have brought in need game time, and they will get it, and it depends what they do with it. I would put my money on goalkeeper Ujkani. He has bags of quality and is a great all round keeper.
This is the hardest part. I mean it could go two ways: Novara could be a mid-table team by December and then they can strengthen their squad. Or they could start in last place in finish in last place. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt: they'll stay up by a few points. I really hope I'm right, for the sole reason that Novara have a good business model and it should be rewarded. Though the odds of them winning the Scudetto are 1000/1..