By Ian Hemmens
After the Glorious 2012/13 season that we had as a club and fans alike, how do you follow and improve on it as you take steps to meet the challenge of a higher division?
What was Phil Parkinson’s thinking last summer? Did he intend to stick to the players who got us promoted and just add to the squad, or did he want new players who would come in and take more of a lead as the season progressed? We will probably not find out his exact strategical thinking but, I think it’s fair to say that his summer signings haven’t made the impact I’m sure that he hoped they would.
Others will be dealt with in future Midweek Player Focus articles, but I’m concentrating on one of the last of the summer arrivals: Italian midfielder/forward, Raffaele De Vita.
With thanks to Italian Bantam Giuseppe Fazio, I’ll just outline his past quickly in Italian football. He has never actually played in senior football in his homeland, having played for several junior and local clubs in his home city of Rome. De Vita was spotted playing for Rome side Atletico 2000 by a scout of the Blackburn Rovers Academy, and brought over to the slightly different surroundings of East Lancashire.
After two years in the Rovers academy without progressing, De Vita moved to Scotland to join Livingston, where his record was a very creditable 21 goals in 67 games. This caught the eye of newly appointed Swindon manager, Paolo Di Canio, in 2011, and at the County Ground he was used in both a wide role and as a central striker. After two years at Swindon, the Italian found himself one of several players released by Di Canio after the penalty shoot out defeat in the League One play off semi final against Brentford.
He was offered a trial by Phil Parkinson last summer, and impressed in a pre season game against Guiseley – getting a goal in the 4-0 victory. This led to him being invited on the pre-season trip to Ireland. He made enough of an impression to be offered a one-year contract at the end of July.
De Vita made his first team debut from the bench in the season’s opener at Bristol City, and scored his only goal so far in the home game against Wolves in October, before limping off with a muscle injury.
So far, Rafa has mainly been used as a substitute and is quick, if a little lightweight. He earned himself a run as a starter for several games, but in reality failed to impress to any degree. He is currently on the injured list and, with the situation at the club now and with the transfer window open, there is a dilemma over what to do with him.
Does the manager persist with De Vita, hoping that he will show some of his undoubted flair, or does he try to offload him and refresh the squad? De Vita certainly needs to show more in the second half of the season to impress the majority of fans and indeed the management. If he remains a fringe player, there is little doubt he will move on at the season’s end when his contract is up.
This is the enigma that is Raffaele De Vita. Can we carry a flair player who seems to blow hot and cold, or will he just fade out of the scene as Parkinson attempts to reignite the season? At the moment , I would say the odds are on the latter scenario – but the Boy from Rome could yet surprise us all.