"Leece have stunned not only the Italian football press but the World football press as the Serie A club appoint completely unknown Englishman Craig Smith as their new manager for their Serie A campaign. Smith has moved over to Italy and is reportedly "delighted" at the "opportunity of a lifetime". The chairman said today that Mr Smith is the right man for the job and that a fresh young manager with knowledge not only of the Italian leagues but of World football can only mean good things for the club. No doubt Smith will be relying heavily on his coaching staff to bring him upto speed with the squad and the ins and outs of Italian football, but it wont be long before he steps out at stadiums such as the San Siro with the worlds eyes on him!"
Transfer Budget 2.5mil. Wage Budget 240k p/w. Target: Avoid Relegation
Smith made it clear that changes to the squad would occur in order to improve the size of the squad and also to keep competitive in this tough division.
A number of loan players such as Massimo Oddo and Julio Sergio were sent back to their parent clubs to make more space available in the wage budget. This made room for a number of high profile free transfers:
Timo Hildebrand (Free)
David Carney (Free)
El-Hadji Diouf (Free)
Jlloyd Samuel (Free)
Smith said "Ive brought in these players to be the spine of the squad. These guys have champions league, uefa cup and countless international caps between them all and Im certain that they will all be able to contribute to the team in Serie A. The fact that these players have been free transfers means that I can spend the transfer budget on securing talented young footballers who will hopefully learn from these pros and one day take their roles in the team. This should give the squad a nice blend of youth and experience."
Smith then brought in the following players:
Marco Verratti (2.5mil)
Juan Agudelo (1.2mil)
Shane Sutherland (825k)
Scott Arfield (600k)
Chris Maxwell (500k)
A.J DeLaGarza (400k)
Conor Mclaughlin (400k)
Cha Du-Rai (400k)
Liam Boyce (100k)
Thomas Carroll (P/Ex)
James Gray (Free)
"We have signed some players here with massive futures, Im excited about every single one of these players!"
But of course players had to be sold to balance the books:
Stefano Ferrario (1.5mil)
Davide Brivio (1.4mil)
Djamel Mesbah (1.4mil + Thomas Carroll)
Guillermo Giacomazzi (600k)
Davide Petrachi (425k)
Bryan Bergougnoux (250k)
Liam Boyce, Conor McLaughlin, James Gray (Season Long Loans to Serie C1 & C2)
After a mixed pre-season including a 9-0 win over minnows Poggiardo (Sutherland hat-trick) and a 3-0 defeat to Villarreal, Leece were drawn against Sampdoria in the Italian Cup 3rd Rd Qual........
A 4-0 defeat at home angered both Smith and the fans.
Starting XI v Sampdoria:
DR: Cuadrado - DC: Carrozzieri - DC: Diamoutene - DL - DeLaGarza
MR: Diouf - MC: Verratti - MC: Arfield - ML: Di Michele
FC: Sutherland - FC: Agudelo
With the Serie A season starting with Fiorentina (A), Juventus (H), Lazio (A) and Inter (H)....it could yet be a long month for Smith and his Leece players.
Maniche, Samuel, Carney and Corvia will all come back from injury over the next couple of weeks........