Giuseppe Iachini replaces Cristian Bucchi at struggling Sassuolo

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 27 November 2017, 20:13

It was never going to be easy for Cristian Bucchi. Appointed by Sassuolo this summer, he came in to replace Eusebio Di Francesco - the most successful Coach in the club’s history - after the latter had left to take a high-profile job at Roma.

After all, the Neroverdi had spent their entire existence in Italy’s lower leagues until current Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri took them to Serie B for the first time in 2007.

From that point until Di Francesco was hired, the club remained in the second tier, flirting with promotion a couple of times between 2007 and 2012. Then in came the former Roma midfielder and took them up to the top flight for the first time in their history in his first attempt by the end of 2012/13. Aside from a brief ill-advised sacking - when the club were struggling near the bottom of Serie A during their first season - the Coach held the reigns at the club for five fruitful years.

The next season after promotion saw them finish an impressive 12th but that was nothing compared to what was to come. In 2015/16 they qualified for the Europa League with a sixth-placed finish, an incredible feat for a side in only their third ever Serie A campaign. Squad depth was inevitably a problem once they began to compete both at home and abroad, and it was clear that Di Francesco had taken them as far as he could.

Still, owner Giorgio Squinzi is ambitious in his plans, his company name Mapei adorning the stadium itself as well as shirt sponsorship. The 20,000 seater Mapei stadium based in Reggio Emilia is one of only three club-owned homes in the entirety of Serie A, allowing the ownership the advantage of keeping any profits earned from matchday revenue.

All this made his choice for a replacement of Di Francesco seem a little bizarre. Bucchi had no previous top-flight experience, having taken charge of the likes of Gubbio, Torres, Maceratese and finally Perugia in Serie B before eventually joining the Neroverdi. Even at his last job, he won just 17 matches out of a possible 47, making it hard to understand how he could continue with the progress that had already been made at Sassuolo.

“We always start the game well, but the moment the first difficulty arrives, this team loses its way,” he said after their latest defeat to second-from-bottom Hellas Verona.

“A Coach can train tactics and fitness, but not character. We need players who have that determination, can shake off difficult moments and win ugly.”

Laying the blame on a lack of character from the players after nine defeats from his first 14 matches in charge was perhaps not the best way to endear himself to the ownership, and from then he was promptly removed on Monday morning.

In his place, former Palermo boss Beppe Iachini was swiftly appointed, the 53-year-old having so much more experience on his side than the previous man in charge. Indeed, the former Fiorentina player has achieved promotion from Serie B to the top flight on no less than four separate occasions with Chievo, Brescia, Sampdoria and Palermo.

Sassuolo owner Squinzi will be hoping Iachini won’t have to do that with his new side, and can instead keep them in Serie A in order that their ambitious long-term plan can be continued.

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Leonid Slutsky
(Hull City)
3rd December
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