Continuity and ductility, the reasons for choosing Nicola after Ranieri

Continuity and ductility, the reasons for choosing Nicola after Ranieri
Continuity and ductility, the reasons for choosing Nicola after Ranieri

An expected white smoke, then Davide Nicola will become in effect the new coach of Cagliari. The Tuscan coach is ready to sign a two-year contract with an option for a third year, thus becoming the heir of Claudio Ranieri on the rossoblù bench. A choice not only aimed at continuing the drawn line by the Roman coach from a mental point of view, but also with regards to game principles. Because beyond the tactical numbers, the three or four defense – or even the run-up saves that fueled the myth of the “psychologist” Nicola – the Piedmontese coach is undoubtedly the natural evolution of what was seen in Cagliari in the year and a half of Sir Claudio’s interregnum.


Talking about numbers in modern football can often be misleading. Non-possession phase, possession phase, positions and tasks: these are the lines for judging the tactical aspect of a coach. With ductility which becomes a guiding star looking at Nicola’s philosophy, exactly as seen with Ranieri in his second experience in Sardinia. Starting from an assumption, namely that in most cases the class of ’73 from Luserna San Giovanni is took over in the running and therefore he had to make the best of it by working with the material already present and adapting rather than adapting it. It is therefore no coincidence that with the Salernitana Nicola has focused on the back four, while a Empoli has moved to the three-way one. A question of interpreters, but also of a flexibility that has always been present in the career of the almost former coach of the Tuscans. For this reason, what matters, more than the layout on the pitch, are the playing principles common among his experiences, including for example that of Crotone. Principles that broadly recall those of Ranieri: little if any space for construction from below, direct balls with little use of the classic play, use of side lanes as the key to creating dangers in the opponent’s area, the action accompanied by double tip and by the inclusion of midfielders who are more skilled than built. In addition to a pressure that is almost never high, but concentrated on midline as soon as the opponents manage to reach the center of the field. Without prejudice to the central striker, a player who is excluded from the defensive phase except for the coverage of the passing lines and who tries to distance himself in advance to find himself free in the event of his teammates recovering the ball.


Looking at the Cagliari from the last championship are different solutions which can be followed by Nicholas. Exactly how different those used by Ranieri were. It is difficult to imagine the eleven of the future today, with both the incoming and outgoing market still having to get underway. But hypothesizing what it could be, Nicola would have in his hands both a possible 4-4-2 than a 3-5-2 as alternatives. In both cases the Piedmontese coach should bring the key principles of his philosophy to Sardinia: organisation defensive phaseexternal cuts for create superiority in the opposing frontline, cohesion across compactness of the lines, a quick second striker who goes around the center forward. On the other hand, however, also a midfielder who is not oriented towards the technical aspect, but is more physical and skilled in both phases from an athletic point of viewone quite scholastic offensive phase and with direct construction and not entrusted to possession. As happened with Ranieri, high pressure can only occur in the event of difficulties in the initial management by the opponents, on the contrary the philosophy is to compact the lines while remaining with the fairly high defense. In the case of a four-man defence, Nicola has often used two full-backs with opposite characteristics, one more pushing which accompanies the offensive development and one more blocked which almost becomes a central third if necessary. The midfield wingers, both five-man and four-man, are opposite in characteristics to the full-backs: on the side of the blocked low side there is a winger with strong attacking skills, vice versa on the side of the pushing side there is a winger capable of favoring overlaps . In the middle of the field two midfielders of which one is more breaking and more maintaining the position and another more box to box, capable of supporting his teammate when necessary and above all of attacking the opponent’s central area and adding to the two strikers and the winger who cuts. The strikers, as mentioned, as a classic pair with the number nine dedicated almost exclusively to stretching the opponents and the second striker more connected and maneuverable, but also capable of attack depth and give technique to the offensive phase. All principles which, however, could change depending on both the opponent and the contingent situation. In fact, it remains to be understood how Nicola will evolve his philosophy depending on the seasonal objective, because it is one thing to have to climb back up from the bottom of the table and rely on the concreteness and accommodation of the deficits left by his predecessor, another to try to develop a game that go further. The importance of the mental aspect, which the Piedmontese coach rejects as the only key to his being a coach, nevertheless plays an important part of his management. An aspect that also appeared fundamental with Ranieri and who often came to the fore in Cagliari’s last seasons. Flexibility, mentality, principles: these are the reasons for the choice of the rossoblù club which fell on Nicola, waiting to understand the material that will be made available to the former Salernitana coach and which will be the starting point of the new Cagliari post Sir Claudio.

Matteo Zizola

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