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Venezia FC- The Floating City Rises to the Top

A multi narrative FM20 story with Venezia FC
Started on 17 November 2019 by TotaalFootball
Latest Reply on 24 November 2019 by TheLFCFan
  • POSTS8
  • VIEWS4025
TotaalFootball's avatar Group TotaalFootball
2 yearsEdited
Venturo 1- Awaiting the Decision.

Venturo Dandolo was sprawled across his bed, with the flickering noise of his electric fan clashing frequently with the sound of people and music coming from the square where his apartment was located in the Castello district. Venturo, Turo to his friends, enjoyed keeping his window open and hearing the vibrancy of the city, his city, Venice.

But Venturo’s usual calm he felt when he was at home was replaced by an overwhelming anxiousness, which was being manifested in his constant checking of his laptop on his right and his iPhone, which lay on his chest. Venturo didn’t know what to do with himself, nothing seemed adequate but to just lie and wait.

His anxious wait was over a decision, and right now Venturo believed that this was the most important decision of his life so far. The decision right now in the hands of the owner and board of the club. His club; Venezia FC.

Venezia football club was in his veins, the same way Venice as a city and the venetian culture was a part of his family’s history, Venezia FC was a part of him. Being a fan or player of Venezia FC, you would be hard pressed to be a glass half full type of person. From when he first fell in love with football, Venezia FC had done something which was almost unthinkable in Venice; it had drowned.

He played at Venezia for 10 years of his life, coming up through the academy, into the first team, taking the captains armband before that fateful day in Pisa. During his time the club had fallen from the heady heights of Serie A all the way to Serie C2, changed ownership and even switched names multiple times.

But now, after his forced time away from Venezia he could return, as head coach, at the perfect time for himself and for his boyhood club. With a new ambitious owner, fresh investment and despite its ageing nature, one of the best playing squads Venezia had put together for decades.
But, Venturo was unsure. Unsure of how his credentials would hold up in the minds of Italian football people, unsure of how his interview truly went and unsure of how important having the fans backing would truly prove to be.

He went over his presentation in his head, had he missed anything? No, he was sure. He went through his evaluation of the current squad, his opinions on squad additions, immediate and future, his tactical ideas for the short and long term and his vision for the future of Venezia FC.
Tacopina had some poker face so there was no help there and the rest of interview panel smiled at him throughout as he knew they did for every interview.

He knew that Tacopina has some doubts about Venturo’s experience, 4 years in Greece, 2 of them in the Superliga clearly didn’t impress the ambitious owner, he made that abundantly clear in their informal meeting.

However, Venturo was sure that the reference that PAS Lamia’s owner gave him would be impressive, and Venturo was happy for his support in his application for his dream job. He would miss Greece, the weather, the culture and most of all his players and staff, those he could not take with him. But this job could define him.

He knew that and so did his best friend, Pablo who he was sure had tipped off the photographer who ‘stumbled’ into Venturo and Tacopina at their initial meeting, he was the only other who knew of the meeting.

Really Venturo should question Pablo and be upset with him but that photo getting out clearly helped him, with the local fans starting an aggressive campaign for Venturo to get hired on social media, they still remembered him as the local boy who rejected bigger clubs and better contracts to help Venezia stay afloat.

Venturo’s thoughts drifted to those days in the early and mid-2000’s, living in his city while playing the sport he loved. As his mind wandered around days gone by, opportunities missed and taken he forgot about his impending call for just a few minutes.

Until, a sudden vibration on his chest shook him as he jolted up straight and lunged for his phone, he quickly checked the number, it was a club number he knew. He took a deep breath and answered…

“Hello, it’s Venturo speaking”
Hi Venturo, it’s Joe, I’ll cut straight to it. We were very impressed with your presentation and feel your knowledge of the club, it’s fans and your optimism for its future makes you the perfect coach for the us.
Venturo tried not to sigh in relief as he heard the words he had been hoping for, anticipating if he was being truthful and stayed calm to reply.
“Thank you very much for the opportunity Joe, I’m sure we can be successful together for this club.”
I’m sure of that too Venturo, the club secretary will be in touch about next steps and all the terms we discussed with your agent stand, I’ll see you soon, congratulations.”

As he thanked Joe Tacopina once again and finished the phone call Venturo climbed out of bed, he felt numb, wasn’t sure how to celebrate or contemplate this, now he had achieved his goal.
He walked out onto the balcony of his Venezia flat and stared out onto the square and to his right one of the many canals which traversed his city.

Gazing out at his city, he imagined again, what he had dreamed of when he was a child; Venice, the greatest city in the world, home to a major football club contending at the top of the game. Venturo knew the challenges, stress and potential agony ahead of him, but for now, just now he could imagine.
Great introduction mate. An interesting team choice, but one that is sure to be exciting! Keep the updates coming.
Congratulations to Turo, being named manager of your boyhood club is something many dream off. Hopefully he can do the job justice an take Venezia to the very top!
Retrospective 1

A city’s football culture can often be intrinsically linked to a manager. Bill Shankly and Liverpool. Matt Busby and Manchester. Johan Cruyff and Amsterdam. Marcelo Bielsa and Rosario. Jurgen Klopp and Mainz. But perhaps no single manager better epitomised their city’s football culture and rise than Venturo Dandolo and Venice.

The travel writer Thomas Watkins wrote: “There is no country so much frequented yet, so little known by foreigners as Venice.” And this has no better example than Venezia FC. Of the thousands, millions of tourists and visitors Venice still attracts in the 21st century, before Dandolo’s reign only a small percentage would agree that Venice had a football team and perhaps a handful could tell you where the stadium is.

This for Italy was an aberration, a country where football clubs are synonymous with their cities and vice versus. The San Siro has become a must see for tourists visiting Milan and even the historic city of Rome stands still when Roma plays Lazio.

Venice in the 2010’s was a world apart from their Italian neighbours when it came to football tourism. The club’s home, the Stadio Pierluigi Penzo, situated on the eastern tip of the island, well away from the tourist mainstays. With barely any signs pointing you in the direction of the club, it almost felt as if the city does not want you to go there.

Football tended to be on the bottom of a tourist ‘to-do’ list in Venice. Some of the reasons for that were Venezia FC’s lack of success, position in the Italian leagues and the more attractive offerings on the mainland for football viewing.

So how did Venezia, a club whose last real success came in 1940, resurrect itself and bring football culture and pride to Venice?

This story of Venturo Dandolo’s reign in charge of Venezia, a club spurred by the ambitious owner Joe Tacopina, will document that trials, tribulations, successes of the Island City club and show how Venturo Dandolo has provided a blueprint to rebuilding a major city’s fallen football club.

Dandolo’s arrival as coach was not the start of the story for Venezia, after years in the doldrums, dropping into the Serie D and constant financial struggles, in stepped American Joe Tacopina. Ambitious and passionate, Tacopina bought the club, gave it a fan approved simple new name and invested in players and managers, including Filippo Inagzhi and the shrewd technical appointment of Giorgio Perinetti as sporting director.

This period resulted in two promotions to Serie B and enthusiasm around the club’s future. However, after Inagzhi left, the project stalled somewhat and in 2018/19 Venezia had a poor season and ended up the relegation play-off, which they lost.

However, the club was given a lifeline. Back in 2019, this lifeline perhaps did not resonate as the important set of events it would turn out to be in Italian football. Palermo were evicted from Serie B due to financial irregularities which meant Venezia stayed in the division.

Not one to not capitalise on a fortuitous event, Tacopina allowed Director of Football Fabio Lupo to invest heavily in the playing squad. However, they needed a new coach to take on this ambitious project and looking back now there was only ever one man for the job.

Venturo Dandolo was born in Venice, in the SS Giovanni e Paolo Hospital, he was born into a middle-class venetian family, who shared a name with a once powerful house in venetian patrician politics. Paolo Dandolo was a modest banker and he and his wife would only have one child in Venturo.

A sheltered upbringing confined to the islands and canals of Venice would follow for Venturo, but the first signs of his love for football occurred on a summer holiday to Greece where he started to play from sunrise to sunset in a holiday camp’s concrete pitch.

Greece being the place where he first fell in love for Football stayed with Venturo and would have a significant impact in his football career. Upon returning from the summer of 1990 Venturo took his newly found passion for football to the playground in his Venetian school and he never looked back.

Signed by Venezia as a schoolboy at aged 9 Venturo was energetic youth player whose stamina marked him out from his peers, as he grew up in a peak time for Venezia’s academy, he garnered the technical ability necessary and even represented Italy at under 17 level.

After rejecting advances from other more reputable clubs and to his parent’s dismay passing up on a scholarship to attend University, Venturo Dandolo made his Venezia First Team debut at 18 towards the end of the doomed 2001-02 Serie A campaign. It would be 9 years until he would play in Serie A again.

Dandolo as a player was a technical central midfielder who was well suited to played in a midfield 3. During the start of his career his stamina and natural fitness as well as his game knowledge meant he was used at left back but as Venezia slowly declined and players moved to better Serie B teams, Dandolo gained his place in the midfield, became a fans favourite and eventually the captain.

Dandolo’s career at Venezia, and his following spells at Brescia and Asteras Tripoli F.C. will be studied in more detail later in this story but his career, much like Venezia’s football history wasn’t stand-out or well recognised but it was a career driven by passion for his club, the game and pushing the limits of his body.

Dandolo picked up an injury early in his career which haunted him throughout and his recurring injury problems forced him into an early retirement at the age of 30. This proved a blessing in disguise for a guy who was destined for management.

One former teammate during his Brescia days remembered knowing Venturo was a manager in waiting “I knew he would be a manager ever since I got to know him, i rember seeing him stay behind after training to help run sessions for the under 12's. And he would always suggest tapes for the players to watch of other players in our position, he lives for football.”

Venturo’s early managed spell with PAS Lamia in the Greek Second League was a colossal success, promoting a club who hadn’t seen the top tier for decades and bringing an unorthodox pressing style to the defensive man marking Greek leagues.

In hindsight the decision to appoint Dandolo at Venezia for the 2019/20 season was a no-brainer but back then it was a risk, with him being so young and his lack of experience in Italy. But the journey, for better and for worse that Venezia FC went on with him would justify the risky decision.

However, things didn’t get off to the smoothest start with reports in the local press that Dandolo had a public spat with Sporting Director Fabio Lupo…
Great writing. A tidy, yet descriptive insight into the background of Dandolo. I'm keen to see what this spat was about... ;)
Venturo 2- Asserting authority

Venturo sat quietly in his office in the club’s office building across the street from the Pierluigi Penzo stadium. He took a deep breath. He had been dreading what he was about to do. He knew he couldn’t let this lie; he had to take authority and be counted.

He got out of his ridiculously comfortable office chair and strolled out of his office towards the main meeting room. The offices at Venezia were run down, a well-done paint job and some fancy equipment tried to hide it but these offices were shabby and cheap.

That wasn’t a problem for Venturo who conducted a lot of work at Lamia on a coffee table in the staff lounge. But it was a sign that despite the new owner, the inflated wage bill and fancy stadium plans not much had truly changed since he left Venezia Football Club in 2007.

He walked through the corridor towards the main meeting room, the room was quite modern for the offices and had glass windows and doors for ‘transparency’ purposes whatever that meant.
He slowed as he reached the room, knowing that the way he had to conduct himself with his new staff in this meeting wasn’t how he liked to work with people but he knew Tacopina would only respond to one thing in this instance: Strength.

As he approached the door, he saw Tacopina at the head of the table. He had heard the man was meticulous and an excellent owner but to attend a player recruitment meeting still seemed strange to Venturo.

But Venturo knew Joe suspected Venturo had an issue with the director of football Fabio Lupo and the lackey he had for a chief scout Fabio Iengo. The two Fabio’s of Venezia were awfully proud of the business they had done during the summer but Venturo had some issues.

There was no doubt that there capture of Franco Zuculini was a smart bit of business, even if Venturo wasn’t too pleased about the extortionate wages they were paying him. But some of the other business, Lollo for 800,000 euros was way too much, particularly him being yet another centre midfielder. Striker Alessandro Capello had a poor track record. The defenders weren’t up to much. Then there were the loans. The fucking loans.

Venturo had hid his anger well so far in his interactions with the overzealous director but he knew that something was about to come to its head. He opened up the glass door and scanning behind him checked for Mariano who was walking in from his office, if you could call the pitiful space Iengo had given Venturo’s old friend and scout.

Mariano Armonia had been the only addition Venturo had made so far, though some coaching changes were in order and he was waiting on an answer back from Dario for his assistant coach. He had Mariano at Lamia with him and trusted his word on players and his attention to the data.

They walked in together, Mariano taking the seat to Venturo’s left as he sat just to the right of his boss Joe Tacopina. The usual pleasantries occurred, Joe was being more quiet than usual, writing some email or message on his phone, he was a busy man after all.

Suddenly the pleasant atmosphere stalled as Lupo stated “Okay. Let’s get to business. Shall we? Fabio why don’t you take our new coach through our ideas on additional transfers.”

Iengo eagerly straightened and without looking Venturo in the eye he started “Okay, so we have had a pretty good window so far, and we have used quite a lot of our budget up. We have a couple of ideas for a winger on a free. And we can have another look in the loan market, there’s a couple of boys at Inter who-“

“No.” Venturo stated.

Most at the table seemed surprised at Venturo’s stern interruption.

“Enough with the domestic loans! And especially the boys from Inter. Do you just take what they give you? Lorenzo Gavioli has no place in our first team at this level!"

“Coach, we’ve done well with loans and it’s a huge market in Serie B.” Lupo replied quite calmly, but Venturo noticed an annoyance in the way he looked at Venturo.

“I know but we’re going about it in the wrong way. Loaning out our best young talent like St Clair and bringing in Gavioli, Caligara who are both guys we won’t be able to give any football this year, so the loan is a waste for the parent club, for the player and for us. And then, we’ve loaned in Adriano Montalto for seven thousand a week! He scored 2 in 12 last season! He doesn’t suit the way we play! Clueless recruitment!” Venturo spat back, perhaps not minding his tone well enough.

“How dare you!?” Shouted Lupo standing up.

He scored 20 goals in 17/18 you know.” Added Iengo petulantly.

“You’ve been here for 5 days and you have the cheek to question our recruitment methods. You won’t complain about Zuculini or young Maleh will you?” Lupo lambasted now standing up from his chair in anger, starting to look towards Tacopina who seemed uninterested in this scene.

“No I won’t. But why then do you add more and more midfielders? Lorenzo Lollo has been average in Serie B for years and we’ve spent 800,00 euros on him? Then you’ve loaned in 6 players who won’t make my first team, and promised them all a regular starter playing status. I’m sorry but this has to stop. We need to focus on positional targets and ensure the loans we do make are first team quality, that’s where the economic saving counts.”

“Listen here Dandolo. You may have been some hotshot local hero but we’re a professional club now and we have a structure. What do you know about Italian football anyway? You’ve been used to easy dealings in Greece but the market here is difficult and is reliant on working with the bigger clubs on loans. I won’t have my work questioned! Anyway, you’re the only one who has a problem with our way of doing things and this isn’t a one man show.” Argued an increasingly overwrought Lupo.

“Actually, I agree. We have squad overloaded with midfielders and not enough wingers, loaning out St Clair was a mistake. We have no wingers now. We’ve going to have to get even more loans to fill those positions.”
Mariano stated, which recieved a grunt from Lupo.

“I did argue against loaning Harvey out.” Added scout Gianni Rovreti, sat on the far end of the table.

Venturo noticed Lupo giving Gianni a glare of disgust. Silence then descended with Lupo waiting for Venturo to respond but Venturo had a hunch.

“You have a proposal Venturo?” asked Joe Tacopina, breaking his silence in the meeting.

“Mariano.” Venturo Prompted.

Mariano didn’t need much prompting they had discussed this prior to the meeting.

“We’re afraid we need to fill quite a few positional areas. First we want to look to offload a centre mid, probably Suciu, seeing as he is one of the only guys who isn’t a new signing… We want to ask St Mirren for St Clair back from his loan, if possible, we might have to pay them compensation... Then there is a free agent, passing focused defensive midfielder we might look at from Greece. Then we’ve looked Montiel on loan from Fiorentina, he would be minimal wages and would probably make our first team. Same with Owen Wjindal at left from AZ Alkmaar. We’ll need another winger. Then depending on budget have a look at right back, centre back and forward cover. That about it Turo?”

“Yes. With the budget we have we’ll have to look outside of Italy and try find some bargains. After this season we’ll need to rethink transfer policy.” Venturo said succinctly.

“Okay sounds good.” Stated Tacopina.

“What!?! That sounds good?!”
Shouted Lupo again.

“We have a policy in place. A structure! My role is to lead our recruitment team and we haven’t looked at any of the players they’re talking about, and we have already recruited at right back and centre back!. Joe, we can’t just change our policy because the new coach doesn’t like a couple of the signings. Please think about-” Lupo carried on before Joe Tacopina raised in hand in a gesture to be silent.

“We will need to have a full review of our transfer policy. Turo makes some solid points, the wages we’re spending on Montalito and others is more than we originally discussed, and if the loans we’ve made aren’t good enough then we’ll have a bloated squad and parent club managers on our case all year. And Turo tells me we have a team that doesn’t suit the way he wants to play, and the way he wants to play is the way I want to play going forward. So, you’re going to work with Turo and Mariano to secure the frees and loans he wants and keep within our budget where we can, then we will have a rethink about our policy and our recruitment approach going into 2020.” Tacopina said commandingly.

“But chairman! We can’t just change everything…For the sake of some washed up ex player who wants to play coach.” Uttered Lupo, now grasping with his sudden loss of power at the club.

“That’s enough Fabio. I say what goes. I need to be some place else right now so I’m going to leave. Turo don’t forget you have a press interview to attend in half an hour. Good morning.”
Ordered Tacopina as he gave Venturo a nod and left the room.

Silence descended in the meeting room, Venturo looked around at the faces in Fabio’s, now his scouting team and he tried not to sigh in relief, the first part of his rebuilding of Venezia was complete. He hoped Lupo would leave as soon as possible but knew Tacopina would not want to pay his compensation.

“Well I guess that’s that Mr Lupo. You’ll have to work with myself and Mariano in bringing in the talent we desperately need.” Venturo stated, trying his best to not appear smug.

Lupo looked bewildered about what had just happened, and Venturo just watched as his facial expressions shifted from confusion to despair to anger.

“I can make your life hell here Dandolo. Don’t you forget it. Embarrass me and my team again and you’ll regret it.” Lupo snarled

Venturo got up and said softly “You and your team embarrass yourself Lupo.”

He then turned around and made for the exit. He heard expletives from Lupo and complains from Iengo on his way out.

Venturo wasn’t surprised to read of a ‘spat’ between himself and the director of football in the papers the next day. Nor was he surprised to read a variety of things he said and did to Fabio Lupo which were not the slightest bit true.

Venturo knew he had to ignore the speculation and get on with his job. Training started next week, and he had to turn a poorly put together side who hadn’t either met each other yet into a top half Serie B team. It was time to get to work.
A division already. I'm interested to see if this could have an effect on the team, especially if things don't start positively.
Not sure how great a fight with someone with your Sporting Director on the first couple of days is, but hopefully it allows for Turo to get the players he needs!

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