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The Italian challenge for the Englishman

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"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)

Maniche (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:

GK: Hildebrand

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........

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So the Serie A season kicked off for Leece against Fiorentina:

Fiorentina 2 - 1 Leece

Fiorentina dominated this game and could have won by more. Some terrible goalkeeping errors from Hildebrand in the Leece goal didnt help matters. Jovetic and Montolivio gave Fiorentina a 2 - 0 lead at half time with cool finishes. Leece had their backs against the wall for much of the second half too, but defended admirably and snatched a goal in the 91st minute when a Di Michele corner was headed in by Souleymane Diamoutene but it would only prove to be a consolation goal. A tough start for Leece.

Game 2:

Leece 2 - 2 Juventus

Leece got off the mark with a point in a game that either side could have won! The first 30 minutes were all Leece but the game remained at 0-0 thanks to some great saves by Buffon to deny Juan Agudelo and El-hadji Diouf. Maniche shot just wide before half time as the teams went in at 0-0.

The second half was much more even and action packed. Agudelo forced yet another great save from Buffon after a great ball through by Verratti, but it was Souleymane Diamoutene who broke the deadlock with his 2nd goal in 2 games, again from a Di Michele corner which he volleyed into the roof of the net. Juventus equalised straight away through Marchisio, but 10 minutes later Moris Carrozzieri headed in from yet another Di Michele corner to make it 2-1 to Leece. Quagliarella equalised after good work from Del Piero and Juve pushed for a winner as Pepe was denyed by Hildebrand.

David Di Michele looks to be out for 10 weeks or so after injuring his hip against Juventus. The creative midfielder has set up all 3 Leece goals this season and will now be on the sidelines as Smith looks likely to use David Carney or the ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfield Thomas Carroll in his place. Whoever gets the left wing starting berth has some high standards to match.

Smith may perhaps be worried that his side have yet to score from open play in a competitive match, but for the time being the team and their management are celebrating the point against Juventus in what is a very tough opening set of games.

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Good luck in Italy and welcome to the forums. But before you have to edit too many posts I just have to tell you it's Lecce and not Leece. :)

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