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With Pescara facing relegation, it's called on former manager Zdenek Zeman for a reversal of fortune.

By Ben Lyttleton
February 20, 2017

One of the premises of the book Soccernomics is that coaches matter less than clubs’ total wage bills. There is said to be a talent myth around the mystique of this individual who does not even kick a ball on the field. If the importance of the coach is sometimes overstated, then no one told Zdenek Zeman. The 69-year-old Czech manager returned to the dugout this week to take charge of doomed Pescara, whose boss Massimo Oddo was ushered out of the club earlier in the week.

Zeman is beloved at Pescara, whom he coached into Serie A with a free-scoring side in 2011-12. No wonder: that squad contained Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne.

Zeman claims his tactics are just a simple matter of math.

“Whenever we attack, all three forwards have to be in the penalty area while two of the three midfielders come forward as well,” he once explained. “That way the opponent is pinned back. Then you put the ball in the box, and because you have more men, you have more chances of scoring. It’s not rocket science.”

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Prior to Zeman's return, Pescara had not won a single game all season, drawing six and having its only three points awarded to it after Sassuolo fielded an ineligible player, forcing a forfeit after an initial victory. So what happened on Zeman’s second debut against Genoa? His team was 3-0 up at halftime and won 5-0 for its first legitimate win of the season.

“I have to thank the players, as they gave everything they had to unblock this situation. They managed it, we broke the curse,” he said after the game. “I hope we can improve, though naturally 5-0 is a good result. We need improvements on application and focus, but the two or three things we tested in our three training sessions did work. It was important to get the win above all psychologically, as it gives us the chance to work with less pressure and improve our game.”

Pescara is still 10 points from safety and needs a lot of results to go its way to avoid relegation. Zeman has signed on for 18 months so could help them get out of Serie B if the inevitable drop follows. The team has plenty of decent youngsters that he could get the best out of, but, more importantly, Pescara will be great to watch again.

Zemanlandia is back! 

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