Winless in Italy but thriving in Europe, Jay Bothroyd has had a strange first term at AC Perugia.
By Julia Court
You would expect that any side who had failed to win a league game this season would have little to look forward to, but that is not the case for AC Perugia.
Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at Juventus FC stretched Perugia's winless run to 15 matches, but they remain three places off the foot of Serie A having drawn nine and lost only six. They also have the prospect of UEFA Cup football when the competition resumes in February.
Consequently, the former Arsenal FC and Coventry City FC striker Jay Bothroyd, who joined Perugia in the summer, remains confident that Serse Cosmi's team will turn the corner soon.
"It's not all doom and gloom," he told uefa.com. "I don't think we deserve to be in the position we're in because we've been playing quite well. I think the coach has been pretty happy with our commitment - it's just that we've been making some silly mistakes and not finishing teams off."
Winning games in Europe has not been a problem for Perugia, however. One of three winners of last summer's UEFA Intertoto Cup, they have beaten Dundee FC and FC Aris Thessaloniki to reach the UEFA Cup third round, where they will meet Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven.
"Perugia are still unbeaten in Europe so we have every reason to be confident," said Bothroyd. "We knew it would get harder as the competition went on but I still believe this side can do well against a strong team like PSV and we're all looking forward to the challenge.
"But I can't pretend there were any cheers when the draw was announced as they're a good team who narrowly missed out on making it to the last 16 of the [UEFA] Champions League. We won't be favourites to go through but we may surprise a few people."
Bothroyd certainly raised eyebrows when he signed for Perugia. English players seldom leave their native land and few thrive in foreign leagues, but Bothroyd was an instant hit in Perugia's Intertoto Cup campaign. The goals have dried up since, but Bothroyd has faith in his ability.
"Scoring three goals in Serie A is not bad for my first season, but I'd rather we were winning games," he said. "Now I'm getting to grips with the language, I feel more comfortable. I've also just moved into a new home which will help and overall my life here is going really well."
With Perugia's topsy-turvy season in full swing, the 21-year-old has had little time to reflect on his progress. "It's still hard to believe how far I've come in the last few months - when I was a youth player at Arsenal I couldn't have predicted I'd be a Serie A player a couple of years down the line," he said. "I want to be remembered as a success here but I'm still young and have time on my side."
The same may not apply to Perugia as Serie A approaches its halfway stage, but should their European success continue, Bothroyd could yet have real reason to remember a bizarre first term in Italy.
Jay Bothroyd's personal website is at www.icons.com