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Where did Matteo go?

The post-Impact life of Montreal’s former Italian striker and the trials of his new club ….

MLS: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC
Almost a year ago ... Matteo Mancosu battles for the ball with Columbia Crew’s Jonathan Mensah.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Matteo Mancosu cut a disconsolate figure over much his last two seasons in Montreal. To fans, he was as popular as he was frustrating and with his goal-touch deserting him, the Italian found himself benched even at times when a recognized striker was unavailable.

Due to his popularity — most will say he was a nice guy — plenty wearing the Bleu/Blanc/Noir have become well-wishers, as he embarks upon the next chapter of his career, back home in Italy.

But where, exactly, has he gone?

Well, the striker whose form was once hot enough to keep Didier Drogba out of post-season playoff soccer at the end of 2016, has landed in Chiavari (pop. 28,000) which sits at the mouth of the Entella River on the outskirts of metropolitan Genoa.

He’s rejoined his former Trapani coach Roberto Boscaglia, the new manager at the little club that takes its name from the river separating the town from Lavagna on the opposite bank.

Brescia Calcio v US Citta di Palermo - Serie B
Mancosu is re-united with former boss Roberto Boscaglia (pictured) at Virtus Entella.
Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

The Biancocelesti or Diavoli Neri suffered relegation last season finishing 19th in Serie B, although an almost farcical situation nearly earned them a reprieve. Three clubs, Cesena, Bari and Avellino, all of whom finished above them, were declared bankrupt and denied permission to resume playing in Serie B. But despite beginning their season in Serie C under appeal — Entella believed they were entitled to a place in Serie B – Entella were forced to suspend all fixtures until the mess was sorted out.

Mancosu’s new club felt that the suspension of fixtures spelt good news, but much buck-passing and little decision-taking led to an impasse ended only by the Italian Federation (FIGC) finally deciding to reduce Serie B to 19 clubs, for one season only. Entella were staying in Serie C whether they liked it or not!

The club’s fixture suspension (6.5 weeks) has forced them to play two games per week to catch up and they still have games in hand on every club in the table. As a result they sit 4th, but with the best points per game ratio in the division (34 pts from 16). Next best is Pro Vercelli, who top the pile (39 pts from 19) and it is they who are shaping up to be Mancosu’s biggest obstacle in his quest for a return to Serie B football in 2019.

Mancosu’s most prolific spell anywhere was playing under Boscaglia for the Sicilian minnows Trapani, a club Boscaglia miraculously took from Italy’s fourth tier, to it’s first-ever Serie B experience. During that run of success, from 2012 to 2015, the former Montreal striker scored 51 goals in 88 league games for Granata.

Mancosu wasted little time in celebrating the latest reunion with his old boss, bagging a brace of goals in the first-half of his debut last weekend, a 4-1 trouncing of hapless Arzachena, one of the favorites for relegation.

Bologna FC v Carpi FC - Serie A
Mancosu in action for Carpi against Bologna in 2016. A return to Serie A may be beyond the striker but Serie B appears to remain a distinct possibility.
Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

There’s a chance for more goals for the striker tomorrow, Wednesday, as he faces another relegation candidate in Olbia Calcio, before Entella returns home to their little 5,535 capacity, Stadio Communale on Sunday for Matteo Mancosu’s home debut against mid-table AC Cuneo 1905.

Montreal will be wishing its erstwhile striker well.

(Mount Royal Soccer will be following the fortunes of Matteo Mancosu in his quest for promotion, throughout the rest of the Italian season).