Serie A 2012-13 season review: Chievo Verona lacked the va-va voom but still post a respectable finish

Dino Panato

It's been said that watching Chievo Verona during the season cured insomnia. Nonetheless, while everyone slept through their matches, the Flying Donkeys drifted to a near mid-table finish.

12th; W12 D9 L17

The Flying Donkeys came into the season looking to replicate their 10th placed finish in 2011-12. Given their early form, the club looked a sure bet to be relegated. Despite winning their opening game, Chievo lost five straight matches and Domenico Di Carlo was given his walking papers. Former Gialloblu midfielder Eugenio Corini was handed the reins for his first stab at top flight management. Corini got off to a winning start and steadied the ship. A run of three straight victories in December coincided with the return of striker Alberto Paloschi, who had missed the first three months of the season with an ankle injury.

In the January transfer window, shotstopper Stefano Sorrentino bizarrely swapped the Chievo goalmouth for that of Palermo's with Rosanero custodian Samir Ujkani moving on loan in the opposite direction. Ujkani didn't get a chance to impress as understudy Christian Puggioni was handed the gloves for the rest of the campaign. Chievo kept their heads above water by grinding out results, which made for some ugly viewing. In addition to a key victory at Siena, the Flying Donkeys defeated Napoli and shocked both Lazio and Roma at the Stadio Olimpico en route to completing their fixtures. Much like Bologna, Chievo won when they had to, with mid-season form carrying them well above the relegation pack.

Most significant match
Siena 0-1 Chievo (21 April 2013)

This type of game summed up Chievo's gameplan for much of the second half of the season. A typical counter attack approach, making life difficult for opponents and for fans watching in the stands and on TV. Sergio Pellissier netted the deciding goal on the stroke of half time. The result plunged Siena into relegation trouble and pulled Chievo clear into mid-table. Similar tactics also stifled both Lazio and Roma, as the Flying Donkeys emerged from those trips 1-0 winners too.

Biggest surprise
Cyril Thereau

The Frenchman showed his worth during his third season in Verona, netting 11 goals in 37 appearances. The 30-year-old proved dependable while Paloschi and Pellissier were in and out of the side due to injury. Four of Thereau's strikes came in the final three games of the season, as big Cyril signed off with a flourish. Chievo will now spend the summer warding off several potential Serie A suitors for Thereau's services next season.

Biggest disappointment

As a team, Chievo suffered some pretty bleak moments towards the end of Di Carlo's reign. The one moment that sticks out is his final game in charge. Chievo made struggling Palermo look like Barcelona, after the Sicilians dished out a 4-1 hammering. Morale at the Bentegodi hit an all-time low and the necessary coaching change was made.

What needs changing?

Chievo need to shift the "boring" tag, ala Arsenal of the late 80s/early 90s, if they hope to win over new fans and attract quality signings. With city rivals Hellas Verona returning to the big time, two local derbies could provide the carrot that encourages the Bentegodi outfit to try a more adventurous approach. A new authority figure on the bench is a certainty after Corini announced his departure after less than a season in charge.

Who's off in the summer?

Corini has already said his goodbyes after disagreements with the board over working conditions and the club's vision for the future. Thereau's departure has also been mooted, while defender Marco Andreolli is poised to leave on a Bosman. 20-year-old Mario Sampirisi is also attracting interest from the English Premier League, with the young defender's contract set to expire at the end of June.

If Chievo keep one individual...
Alberto Paloschi

The forward is currently co-owned by Chievo and AC Milan and has spent the last two seasons in Verona. With competition for attacking places fierce at the San Siro, the youngster will see more game time if he stays with the Gialloblu. The 23-year-old scored seven goals this season and five the season prior. A decision on his future is expected over the summer after he finishes representing Italy at the European Under-21 Championships.

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