Club: Austria Vienna
Under the watchful eye of Martin Svedik, Patrizio Stronati managed to put the pieces together. For years, the centre-back had displayed the promise and an array of attributes that signalled he could mature into a top-level defender within the Czech ranks, but he failed to take the next step forward. In 2014 that all changed, however.
As capable with the ball at his feet (near 75% pass completion rate) as he was battling opposing strikers (tenth highest success rate in the division), the Italian-born defender formed a promising partnership with Jan Baranek as Banik raced up the league table thanks to their, in part, to their defensive duo. Everything was clicking, it seemed.
During 2014, Stronati began to make strides internationally, graduating from the Czech Under-19s to the Under-20s and was in the running to feature of the Under-21s.
Like many of his Banik teammates, Stronati started the year in new surroundings.
Despite a vocal cry of “hands-off!” from the Banicek management, he followed Jan Baranek and Jan Gregus out of the Bazaly doors after Banik accept a bid from Austria Vienna.
His career with The Violets has been indifferent, almost disappointingly indifferent given what we all saw during his yearlong stint in Banik’s first-team. But then again, the Franz Horr stadium has not been a hotbed of stability.
Gerald Baumgartner was under pressure from the get-go it seemed and when Stronati joined in January, he did so at a time when the side was under-performing and struggling for consistency. As a result, he seemed to play for a fortnight before sitting on the sidelines for a few weeks, only to be reinstated back when results and performance levels dipped.
Andreas Ogris replaced Baumgartner in March and continued this stop-start strategy to team selection until the end of the 2014-15 season.
During this time, there were a number of positives: His debut was one to remember as he scored in a thrilling 5-3 victory over Altach, and he was ever-present as Austria made the final of the OFB Cup. Not the best six months to life in Vienna, but they certainly were not the worst.
After Baumgartner and Ogris came Thorsten Fink – yes, that Thorsten Fink whom Sparta Prague unsuccessfully tried to woo over the summer. Fink brought in another centre-back, Richard Windbichler, to increase competition and unlike his predecessor, the former Bayern Munich midfielder has not been too trigger-happy when it comes to team selection.
This term, Stronati has been stuck on the extremities of Austria’s squad. A starting role in the Viennese derby aside, the former Banik man has failed to make an impression in the first team. Instead, he has been playing in the Regionalliga Ost for Austria’s second string on a somewhat regular basis.
This is a tough one.
Was moving to Austria Vienna the right move? Arguably, the answer is no. But when you see what has happened at Banik Ostrava these past twelve months, it is hard to make a case against trying your luck in a bigger team elsewhere in Europe – especially if that was the only offer presented to you.
What is most galling though is the progression that his former defensive partner Jan Baranek has made in the Czech Republic. Whereas Baranek is one of the best centre-back in the country, Stronati is struggling for minutes across the border in Austria.
The first six months of the year will be crucial. He has featured regularly in preparation games, which is encouraging, but is he set for an expanded role in 2016 or a reserve one?
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 16th January 2016