You can go from words to deeds in a flash. From the threat of “denunciation” in early January to “If it stops, not at all”, pronounced on Saturday 6 February by the Genoa coach Davide Ballardini. All speaking of Goran Pandev. The coach is making the umpteenth feat of his life on the Genoa bench, the striker is living a third youth with the brace signed at Napoli in the match won 2-1 by the rossoblù. And that he wants to stop at almost 38 years old as soon as the European Championships he will play with his North Macedonia, making his debut in the continental review, are finished. Doing the math, Ballardini has scored 17 points in the eight games played since his return to Liguria on 21 December 2020. A march from the Europe area: only Juventus did better with 18. But the metamorphosis took place in defense: five goals conceded.
A clear change of philosophy under the reign of Ballardini IV. There are not only insights, like that of Radovanovic reinvented central defender. Here we are talking about something that goes beyond the field. We are talking about a rebirth, that of Genoa (in December it was in the full relegation zone), which starts from the coach’s confidence and esteem for his players. In a short time he restored self-esteem to a group that now seemed lost. “Ballardini talks to us”, Goran’s words. He is a coach who lives his boys, questions them, stays close to him. The coach is in total symbiosis with the Genoa environment (with the president Enrico Preziosi he has a relationship of absolute love, albeit tormented): he had already sat on the Grifoni bench from November 2010 until the end of the season. And again in the six months of 2013 and then in 2017-2018. Until December 2020: five successes with Spezia, Bologna, Cagliari, Crotone and Naples; two draws with Lazio and Atalanta; only one defeat with Sassuolo. Something magical. And now he really doesn’t want Pandev to say goodbye to football.
His last brace scored in Serie A dates back to December 2013, curiously with the Napoli shirt against Udinese. “I don’t feel young anymore, on the contrary. I had a hard time recovering after the injury suffered on 23 December against Spezia. A month and a half, you think … », said the striker, hero in Marassi. Already in the summer of two years ago, and again in that of 2020, President Preziosi had left him the freedom to decide his future: “If you want to stay, the door to Genoa will always be open for you”. Now Pandev wants to think only of salvation and Europeans. Then he will see. In his career, among the titles won, he won the treble in 2010 with José Mourinho’s Inter, returning to Pinetina in January 2010, after a long dispute with Lazio. His career in Italy had begun in the Inter team: the club discovered him in the early 2000s thanks to an intuition of the late Nerazzurri scout chief, Pierluigi Casiraghi, namesake of the former Under 21 coach. His farewell to football now seems close. Ballardini permitting. That after the threat of denunciation and aggression, something else will be studied in order to convince Pandev to play at least another year.
February 7, 2021 (change February 7, 2021 | 13:29)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED