As the international break approaches, a moment to take stock of the campaign so far.
By any definition, the season has started well for Juric’s Hellas Verona. Tipped by many as relegation contenders, Verona currently sit in 10th place in Serie A. With nine points and a defensive record that few in the league can rival, they have conceded just 5 goals, 3 of which were from penalties!
Two seasons ago (when Hellas last played in Serie A), Pecchia had accumulated just 3 points from the first 7 games. More worryingly, his team had shipped 16 goals, suffering heavy defeats against Napoli, Fiorentina, Lazio and Roma.
Juric’s team is compact, well-organised and determined, characteristics that have been noticeably lacking in recent seasons. With the exception of goalkeeper Silvestri, the squad is more or less unrecognisable from that which started the season last year under Fabio Grosso. But Juric's team already has a settled feel to it. He tends to rotate only when forced to do so (through suspension, for example), in stark contrast to Pecchia and Grosso, who were both inclined to tinker, particularly towards the end of their tenures.
Credit must also go to Verona’s scouting network and to Sporting Director Tony D'Amico, because those who have arrived this season have made an exceptional contribution. In particular, Rrhamani, Kumbulla, Veloso and Amrabat have transformed the character of Hellas Verona from a timid, fragile looking team that lacked personality and identity, to a formidable unit already well on the way to achieving its overriding objective - survival in Serie A.
In fact, of the new arrivals, only midfielder Emmanuel Badu is to make an impact. The Ghanaian has recently returned to training after suffering a pulmonary microembolism in August. Hopefully we'll get the chance to see him on the pitch before much longer.
Of course, it’s early days and there is a long, long way to go. But this season the early signs are good for Hellas Verona.