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The writing was on the wall for Di Francesco, now a new start for Hellas

Richard Hough

The column of the week from Richard Hough for all the Verona-lovers speaking english.

After two seasons of stability and progress under Juric, it seems that Hellas Verona have reverted to form in recent days, with a string of poor results that culminated in the sacking of manager Eusebio Di Francesco just three games into the new Serie A Season.


You have to go back to the 2007/08 season, and a certain Maurizio Sarri, for a remotely comparable scenario. The Neapolitan’s disastrous spell at Hellas Verona came to an abrupt end after he took just one point from six calamitous games in charge.


When Hellas lost 1-0 to Bologna at the Stadio Dall’Ara on Monday night, the writing was on the wall for Di Francesco, coming as it did on the back of heavy defeats to Sassuolo and Inter.


While some commentators felt that he might be given another couple of games to try and turn things around, club President Maurizio Setti acted swiftly and decisively, sacking Di Francesco and installing Croat Igor Tudor to replace him all within 24 hours of Monday night’s defeat. When things went badly under Pecchia and Grosso, Setti waited too long to act, not something he can be accused of on this occasion.


The haste with which the operation was concluded suggests that something had been brewing behind the scenes, with speculation mounting that Di Francesco had lost the confidence of the dressing room.


Replacing a manager after just three games, though not necessarily unusual in the frenetic world of Serie A, also suggests that it was the wrong appointment in the first place. Juric imposed such a strong sense of identity on the team that anyone succeeding him was always going to struggle to emulate his achievements. With hindsight, Di Francesco was clearly the wrong man.


Verona’s deficiencies on the pitch are well-documented – not least the absence of a proven and consistent goal scorer, while off the pitch the inability (or unwillingness) to retain our most important players has inevitable consequences on the pitch.


Despite the loss of so many key players, the core identity of the team of the team remains just about intact, with just enough quality to achieve this season’s overriding objective – a rare third-consecutive season in the top tier.


As well as instilling confidence up front, Tudor will be expected to tighten things up at the back, where Hellas have conceded seven goals in the opening three games, in stark contrast to the Juric era, when Hellas conceded just two goals in the opening three games of the 2019/20 season and just a single goal in the opening three games of the 2020/21 season.


In midfield, Tudor will be pleased to see the return of influential playmaker Miguel Veloso, who has been absent in Verona’s last two outings, having been controversially sent off in the opening game against Sassuolo.


Tudor was amongst the contenders to succeed Juric in the summer, and now he will be given the chance he has been craving. The Croat has a decent track-record with Udinese, where he was twice appointed mid-season and secured their place in Serie A, a feat he will be expected to replicate with Verona.


An imposing figure (193cm tall), the ex-Juve defender enjoyed 155 appearances for the Bianconeri and won 55 caps for the Croatian national team. He’s also enjoyed brief managerial spells at Galatasaray, Karabükspor and Hajduk.


He’ll be up against one of the best in the business on Sunday, as a rejuvenated Josè Mourinho brings his high-flying Roma to Verona.


In bocca al lupo Mister. We wish you every success!


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