In Joe McGinnis’s legendary book ‘The Miracle of Castel di Sangro’ the American author often detailed how at times Serie B was a boring spectacle. A league where teams were more afraid of trying not to lose then rather going for the win.
Often seen in the past as a graveyard league where big teams of yesteryear have become mired and unable to escape. It has however been over two decades since McGinniss traipsed around Serie B following the plucky underdog and much has changed. The football, while still at times taxing to watch, has on a whole become far more vibrant and the return of one man in particular to the division for 2017/18 is set to see that continue.
Nothing much new can be said when it comes to ‘The Bohemian’, aka Zdenek Zeman. The chain-smoking Czech is not only a legend of his time but will go down as a legend for all time in the annals of calcio. Famed for an almost kamikaze like attacking style and the building of defences that have proven about as robust as the Maginot line, his footballing philosophy is described no better than by the man himself, ‘If you score 90 goals (a season) then it shouldn’t really worry you how many are conceded.’
Now 70 years of age you may be forgiven for thinking that his philosophy of attack being the best form of defence has mellowed a bit. You would however be very wrong, as you can see from the fact that three matches into the new Serie B season, Zemanlandia is proving to be more bonkers than ever.
With three games gone Zeman’s Pescara outfit have hit the back of the net ten times whilst also leaking eight. If that was replicated over the course of the 42-game season the Delfini would finish with a truly mind boggling 140 goals scored and equally insane 112 conceded.
Whatever else you can say about Zeman, football at the Stadio Adriatico is going to be far from boring this campaign.
Perhaps more amazingly though is the fact that despite conceding eight in three, Pescara do not hold the crown for being the division’s leakiest defence. That honour in fact goes to newly promoted Foggia. Yet on closer inspection it is sheer poetic justice that it happens to be Foggia. For you see the Satanelli are managed by a certain Giovanni Stroppa, who as a player played under Zeman when he was first in charge of Foggia and would later be the man to replace Zeman when his first spell in charge of Pescara ended.
Indeed, after Pescara beat Foggia 5-1 on the opening day of the season the two men held their post-match press conferences together showcasing their close bond.
With Stroppa his disciple and the man himself at the reigns of Serie B clubs it is safe to say that Zemanlandia has returned to Italy’s second tier and it is as totally bonkers as ever.