Carpi are one victory away from the promised land. After a 100-year wait, the club representing a city that could fit its entire population into San Siro with room to spare, are set to secure their first ever appearance in Italy’s top flight.
It’s a scenario the Comune’s inhabitants couldn’t have dared dream of some 15 years ago when bankruptcy forced the club to rebrand from A.C. Carpi to Carpi F.C. 1909. It’s been a dramatic turnaround for the team from the northern province of Modena who made Serie B for the first time in their history just two years ago, but sporting director Christian Giuntoli insists it is no fluke.
"[Our rise] is not born by chance, it is the realisation of a project that has grown and grown," Giuntoli told Goal, pointing out that among the secrets of their success lies in a healthy environment based on a streamlined management structure.
"The club is solid and does not splurge or act without foresight. Above all, the chain of command is very short, and this facilitates the decision-making process of the club. I am referring directly to president Claudio Caliumi (and the textile group Gaudi) who is represented by Roberto Marani and Stefano Bonacini. I talk to them, then I talk to the coach. That’s it.”
The club’s annual budget is just €3 million, with a further €1m for staff, but they are showing that nothing in the game is impossible when conducted with passion and intelligence and equal measures. It’s an approach typified by the appointment of the coach Fabrizio Castori, a journeyman who would likely have been managing in Ukraine if the conflict in the nation hadn’t forced him to walk out on his job at Metalurg after just a few days.
The veteran has overseen a young squad which includes a number of loans from neighbouring Atalanta and Chievo. Brazilian goalkeeper Gabriel, on loan from Milan, has kept 20 clean sheets, while at the other end 22-year-old Nigerian forward Jerry Mbakogu has starred with 14 goals and is even being linked with a move to Dortmund.
Their 25-year-old wide man Lorenzo Pasciuti is perhaps most typical of their approach, however. He joined in 2009 when the club was in Serie C1, spending €26,000 of his own money to break his contract with Biellese in order to become a free agent. He has since scored in every division.
“We will not change our philosophy,” Giuntoli added. “We will focus on young players, we will climb to Serie A with guys you have never seen.”
Few will get the chance in home fixtures, with their Sandro Cabassi Stadium holding just over 4,000. Bur regardless, the dream lies just over a horizon that is now in touching distance for a club who may well consider themselves lucky to be anywhere.