20th; W6 D4 L28
Delfino Pescara 1936
When they lost coach Zdeněk Zeman alongside Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti last summer, the relegation writing was already on the wall. The delfini lost the core of their team, leaving their squad a rabble of Serie B-standard players with a sprinkling of young talent. It was never sufficient to survive relegation.
That's despite the fact they managed to pick up a handful of wins under the inexperienced Giovanni Stroppa early on, though a 1-0 defeat to Siena in November led Stroppa to resign. The delfini hired Cristiano Bergodi as his replacement, and things started well. They recorded their sixth win of the season against Fiorentina in their first game of 2013, which left them four points above the relegation zone. It seemed like they had a chance.
Sadly, their form didn't last. They played 19 games after that 2-0 win over Fiorentina -- the last few under Primavera coach Cristian Bucchi after Bergodi was sacked in March -- and picked up a grand total of two points. Their failure to record a single win again saw them finish comfortably bottom of the table.
Most significant match:
Sampdoria 6-0 Pescara
This hammering at the hands of one of the division's weaker sides came late in January, when it still looked like Pescara had a fighting chance of surviving the drop. As Mauro Icardi was filling his boots with four goals, it quickly became apparent that they didn't.
The summer transfer market
The delfini's transfer season was ambitious, and saw them unearth some obviously talented players. Playmaker Juanfer Quintero, winger Vladimír Weiss and striker Ante Vukušić all have great potential, and at a more stable club would've represented good long-term purchases. Sadly Pescara had a lack of cohesion and experience in their starting eleven (their average age of 22.4 was the youngest in Serie A) needed to make things click into place, though they certainly managed to assemble an exciting, forward-thinking squad.
Attacker Ante Vukušić is regarded as one of Croatia's top prospects, though only made 13 starts this season, and 19 appearances in total. His disappointing return wasn't entirely his own doing, misused and underappreciated by Giovanni Stroppa and generally having to get comfy with a seat on the bench. Nevertheless, he only mustered one league goal, and hasn't managed to live up to the hype -- yet.
What needs changing?
Pescara's porous defence saw them concede almost 30 goals more than any other side in Serie A this season. A focus on attack wasn't enough to paper over the fact that they were completely hopeless at the back, despite boasting a couple of excellent goalkeepers. They're a side which should have plenty of Serie B goals in them -- even from the likes of Elvis Abbruscato and Ferdinando Sforzini. But, without the weird and wonderful offensively-oriented ways of Zdeněk Zeman to lead them (unless he makes an incredible return) they'll need to strengthen their defence.
Who's off in the summer?
This question is harder to answer for Pescara than any other team. That's because they're likely to lose a sizeable chunk of their best young players, who'll be returning to parent clubs or be wowed by others. Quintero impressed at the South American U20 tournament and has faced interest from clubs around the world, along with Weiss and Vukušić. Mattia Perin, Birkir Bjarnason, Uroš Ćosić, Giuseppe Sculli and Gaetano D'Agostino are just a handful of loanees who could be off. If anything, the question we should be asking is: who's staying this summer?
If Pescara keep one individual...
Choosing a player who realistically could stay, goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli was excellent over the second half of the season. The veteran came to overtake Perin in the pecking order, and keeping him on would be a huge boost -- not least with Perin set to depart back to Genoa.