Has the turning point for the Romanian winger at Parma arrived?
June 3, 2023. Second leg semi-final of the Serie B playoffs, Parma-Cagliari. The Sardinians defend, strong from the 3-2 first leg win at Unipol Domus 3-2 and the comeback from a double deficit thanks to Zito Luvumbo. The bunker erected by Claudio Ranieri at the Tardini holds up. An individual play is needed to unhinge him but, on a day that wasn’t very inspiring for Pecchia’s men, the spark didn’t arrive. Nor from Period Vazquez, né da Benedyczak, né da Dennis Man. The Romanian winger was replaced after 66 gray minutes, a reflection of a season with few lights and many shadows despite the opportunities granted to him by Pecchia.
Ballasted come on 15 million spent by the ducals for his price tag, which makes him the most expensive Romanian player in history, which the press and fans never fail to remind him of. 6 months later, after the summer break, everything changed: Man’s talent finally blossomed, the boy learned to channel it in the correct way and with the continuity that he had always lacked. Now he is the driving force of a Parma that dreams direct promotion to Serie A.
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Born in 1998, Man lands in Parma at the end of the 2021 winter transfer window, an investment for both the present and the future. The 22-year-old has a resume almost 50 goals with the FCSB shirt (per we Steaua Bucharest again) including 4 in the Europa League preliminaries, a national cup and the title of best Romanian player of the calendar year 2020, exceeding the not excellent competition from Ciprian Deac, Nicolae Stanciu and his son Ianis Hagi. Despite his age, there are already many tattoos on his body: Jesus and the Virgin Mary on his left arm, the writings Sacrifice e family for ever on the side and chest, the wings of an eagle on the neck, but the most particular is undoubtedly the face of his brother Alberto on his right arm, which in turn has Dennis tattooed while he celebrates after scoring a goal.
As his career progressed, not only the number but also the volume of individual tattoos increased. Who knows if he would win the Ballon d’Or.
Upon his arrival in Emilia, where he finds his compatriot Mihaila, he sits on the bench Roberto D’Aversa, who has just been recalled by president Krause after the summer fracture that led to his replacement with Fabio Liverani, who was sacked in the 16th match of the championship. Initially exploited as cambio di Juraj Kucka (attacking winger of the 3-4-3, well yes), Dennis Man starts for the first time against Inter at the Tardini on 4 March 2021, completing an unlikely trident formed by Kucka himself and Yann Karamoh.
The second outing goes much better: against Roma, finally as a pure right winger, he turns Kumbulla’s head, with his weak foot he serves a soft ball for the goal that opens the match (then closed by Graziano Pellè) by Mihaila. Two weeks later the first goal in Serie A, a powerful left-footed volley from inside the area in the 88th minute against Benevento which prevented the Crusaders from defeat; Man becomes a regular starter, also scoring against Cagliari, but has to say goodbye to Serie A early due to a thigh injury at the beginning of May.
The impact on the Italian top league is good, even if not as thunderous as they might have expected at home, eager to celebrate the explosion of a boy who at 20 years old is already a permanent presence in the national team and, from 2020 onwards, will be a fixed point in the starting 11 of coach Mirel Radoi. Man has all the cards to devour Serie B but, in post-relegation Parma chaoswith over 40 players on the payroll and the not too convinced rotation between Enzo Maresca and the imperishable Beppe Iachini, gets lost.
The two goals against Frosinone and Pordenone in the first three matches give rise to hope, then Covid blocks the Romanian winger, who upon his return finds a Parma that has switched to 3-4-2-1. Only one between him and Adrian Benedyczak, there is no room for both. The advent of Iachini slowly brings him back among the starters, but not in his usual role: Man, with his wide strides and athletic freshness, is the perfect left midfield fifth of the 3-5-2 which characterizes Parma’s season, which closed with an anonymous 12th place, from the end of February onwards. Man’s third and final goal of the season dates back to 12 February 2022, a match in which he was used as an attacking midfielder behind Simy and the eighteen-year-old Ange-Yoan Bonny.
The arrival of Fabio Pecchia on the bench of the ducals he brings Man back to the fields that best suit him: starter on the right in the attacking midfield line of the 4-2-3-1, the coach will use him throughout the season also on the left, no longer relegating him to defensive and deep diagonal tasks which in the previous year had conditioned his performance in the finishing and finishing phase. This time too, Man started more than well, with an amazing Robben-style solo in the opening match against Bari. He slowly deflated, ended up on the bench and suddenly became decisive again with two goals as a substitute against Ascoli and Frosinone: mister, I deserve the starting position.
The season will go on like this, between champion shots – the special slalom with a left at the crossroads against Cagliari – and more or less long periods of stasis, in which teammates and fans wait in vain for a drop of his talent to fall onto the pitch to illuminate it. The season’s goals doubled – from 3 to 6 – but the intermittency, combined with the silent scene in the playoffs, led even the most optimistic supporters to ask themselves some questions.
77′ of Parma-Cagliari. Dennis Man entered from 5′ but decided that he wants to win the match: the first opponent is pushed with momentum, the second falls at his feet, the inside left is dry and wedges easily under the crossroads poles.
Dennis Man’s taste for rocket starts also resurfaces at the beginning of this season, with a back-heel goal against Bari in the peremptory 3-0 of San Nicola in the Italian Cup and an assist in the championship opener against newly promoted Feralpisalò. A small physical problem forces him to stop, but it won’t be enough to nip in the bud what, to date, truly seems like the season of his consecration. Man returns from injury and, in the fourth of the championship, the indolences of the past seem to have suddenly disappeared: scores the goal that opens the match in Catanzaro, in October with 4 goals in 4 games he wins the award footballer of the month assigned by the AIC, even as a replacement he seems even more incisive than in the past.
The 34′ played in the Italian Cup against Lecce demonstrate this: the yellow-blue number 98 with a drift into the flank of his team causes Pongracic’s own goal and scores the penalty for the final 2-4 which qualifies Parma. Less prominent with the national team, also due to a couple of injuries which occurred during the breaks, Man will still be able to be among the protagonists of next summer’s European Championship: Romania won Group I qualifying round, in June they will face Slovakia, Belgium and one of the winners of the playoffs.
What has changed in the Dennis Man game? Is this really an (un)expected exploit or is there more to it? Despite being equipped with above average stopping and driving ability, Man is not an imaginative dribbler. He prefers to focus everything on the ability to burn the opponent in the first 3 meters, or on the power of his legs when he has space to attack, but always with the aim of returning to the left to attempt the conclusion at the far post, which is fundamental in which recalls the very first version by Domenico Berardi.
The experience of the 5-man midfield has left him with a tendency to look for the ball in the deepest areas of the pitch when the action tends to stagnate, an important variable in a team that requires little participation in the game from its strikers (Man is first in passes made per game, 18, compared to 9.4 from neighbor Benedyczak). Despite having scored practically all of his goals in Italy with his left foot, Man’s unpredictability lies in his ability to carry the ball even on the weak footused to go for the cross or for a further swerve aimed at freeing up space for the left-footed shot.
Compared to previous seasons, both the overall shots that, above all, those in the door (from 0.4 to 1.2 per game). His involvement in the action remained constant if we exclude the period in which he was used as a full-back, while the ratio between attempted and completed dribbles improved overall, going from 53% to 59% success.
Man’s outburst may be due to a mental issue, which concerns the awareness of one’s own means and al context in which he is inserted, which finally seems to work and support his talent. If Parma is at the top of Serie B it is also due to the goals of the Romanian winger, but it is also true that this version of the ducals is the one that, in the last 3 years, creates clearer scoring opportunities and offensive situations that the national team of The tricolors he can use to replenish his tally: the previous record of 6 goals in a season was equaled at the beginning of November.
Dennis Man has not changed, but is simply in the best version everwho begins to get closer to what they imagined for his future at home, giving him the uncomfortable label of predestined.
Character has never been lacking, capable of launching himself into the tunnel on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a Parma-Milan match in his first year in Serie A.
Dennis Man has already betrayed us several times, and maybe in the spring we will be talking about how strong he seemed in the fall. We want to try to trust him and of theupgrade which made him an out-of-scale player for Serie B, worthy of competing on the best stages in Italy instead of continuing to slice up rearguards who seem not to have the necessary tools to stem his declines. We are waiting for him, doubtful, but above all very curious to find out if he will be able to make his talent explode even at the highest levels. Sky’s the limit.
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