The loss of a prolific striker can completely change the fortunes of a football club, even if much of the supporting cast remains the same.
Look no further than Liverpool for an example. The Reds average 1.3 goals per game in the Premier League in the wake of Luis Suarez’s departure, having been an attacking force.
Of course, this phenomenon isn’t just limited to the top flight. Ternana have suffered in the same way this season in Serie B with Mirco Antenucci gone to Leeds.
Last term the Italian struck 19 goals in Italy’s second division for the Rossoverdi, finishing fifth-top scorer in the league as the heartbeat of the Umbria-based side.
Ternana did end the campaign a rather unimpressive 16th in Serie B, but the fact that they avoided the drop was largely down to him
Seven points above the relegation play-off zone, Ternana also finished 11 points off of the promotion play-off places in a league that operates on fine margins.
Defence wasn’t the side’s strong point, attacking was. Antenucci scored 19 of the side’s 54 goals, with only seven other clubs hitting the back of the net more.
Undoubtedly, a great deal of their relative success came down to Antenucci. But the 30-year-old left in the summer for a new adventure with Leeds, and Terni are struggling.
Through 12 games, Attilio Tesser’s men have scored only 11 times – just five teams have scored less. They’re winless in their last nine games. Only twice have Ternana scored more than one goal this term.
Meanwhile, Antenucci is finding his feet in the Championship. Four goals in 13 appearances so far isn’t necessarily setting the world on fire, but he’s adapting to new surroundings the best a 30-year-old striker can.
Only in-form youngster Alex Mowatt has matched Antenucci’s goal output, and he looks the closest replacement Leeds have for their own ex-star striker sold over the summer – Ross McCormack.
Constant managerial changes have made adapting an even more difficult task for Antenucci, but he’s done well enough and seemingly can only improve.
Neil Redfearn, who Antenucci arguably experienced his best form under, is back in charge at Elland Road and his impact should grow from here on out.
From Ternana’s results this season and last it’s clear to see the kind of impact Antenucci can have on a team’s fortunes, and the good news for Leeds is that he’s theirs.
A visit from Blackpool is a perfect opportunity for the Italian to get back on the scoresheet after two games without a goal, with Leeds in search of their first win since September 20.