On Wednesday Torino decided that enough was enough and sacked Coach Franco Lerda. This came down to the simple fact that Toro had a dismal start to 2011 which took them until the end of February before they got their first win of 2011. This saw Lerda oversee wins over Pescara and Portogruaro. Unfortuately however, this was then follwed by consectutive defeats against Atalanta and on Monday night away to Vicenza. President Cairo had enough and with his ichy finger on the trigger put an end to Lerda’s Torino coaching career.
The man that Cairo chose to replace him is Giuseppe Papadopulo. The Casale Marittimo native (a no nonsense defender in his youth), had a playing career which took in clubs such as Livorno, Lazio, Salernitana and Bari. He never made an appearance for his country at either full or under 21 levels.
As a Coach, Papadopulo led Siena from Serie C1 to Serie A. He was nicknamed il Papa (The Pope) by the Siena fans. In 2004-05 he was appointed coach of former club Lazio, but lasted for just one season before replacing Luigi Delneri as Coach of Palermo. Again he only lasted for a season before taking over the reigns at Serie B side Lecce. In his second season he led the club to a third place finish and the play-offs. The Giallorossi beat both Pisa and Albinoleffe to regain their top flight status, but Papadopulo walked out just a few weeks later when he couldn’t agree a way forward with the club.
Papadopulo now steps forward to become the latest victim of the sleeping giant syndrome at the Stadio Olympico. His first game in charge as fate would have it is against his former side Livorno. He will follow that with a tough trip to Frosinone as he endevours to get this once great club back up to where it belongs. It will be a long drawn out process but lets all get behind the new man and show him our support. Up the Toro.
As the transfer deadline in Serie A came and went at 6pm on Monday, the main piece of news worth celebrating for fans of the Granata was the fact that we kept hold of main man Rolando Bianchi-at least until the summer. However, Toro did do two worthwhile deals. The first was the signing of midfielder Biagio Pagano from Livorno and secondly the signing of young defender Luis Pedro Cavanda on loan from Lazio. The signing of Cavanda may turn out to be the better signing between now and may as we need more cover at the back and more quality judging by the way the side fell apart defensively in the second half at Crotone last weekend as we scrapped out a 1-1 draw with another strike from Bianchi late on. Pagano should provide more cover and competition across the centre of the park in a midfield which currently runs with a rota of Zanetti, De Vezze, De Feudis and Budel.
Bianchi’s strike was his tenth goal of the season with the big hitman targeting a return of twenty goals this season as a realistic hope for making the play-offs. This means he needs another ten goals between now and may in order to reach his target. He will hope to continue where he left off this Saturday against Sassuolo at the Stdio Olimpico. Toro will be without Zanetti after the midfielder starts a suspension for the red card he picked up last week after only being on the pitch for 30 minutes. His second yellow card coming in stopage time. The Granata also rode their luck in the second half when Ciro Ginestra missed a vital penalty with Davide Bassi making a fantistic save and the scoreline being locked at 0-0 at that precise moment.
Coach Franco Lerda would have noticed the fighting spirit which is firmly amongest this bunch of players. Crotone were largely on top in the second half which made it all the more sweeter for the Toro Coach that his side kept themselves going right to the end. Lerda will be hoping that the aditions to the squad will inspire the team to a hard fought home victory this weekend and more importantly the much needed first win of 2011.
Torino 1-1 Cittadella.
41. Bassi 23. Villanova
32. Rivalta 4. Scardina
6. Ogbonna 17. Gorini
5. Di Cesare 2. Manucci
21. Garofalu 13. Carteri
8. Budel 24. Marchesan
27. Zanetti 8. Musso
18. Gasbarroni 21. Dalla Bonna
9. Bianchi 16. Bellazzini
14. Sgrigna 9. Piovaccari
20. Lazarevil 11. Nassi
Stadio Olimpico (Turin)
Goals. Torino- Bianchi 26 Cittadella- D’Ambrosio (o.g.) 73.
It was widely accepted in the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday that Torino managed to throw away another two points. If the Granata are going to get themselves promoted then they will have to do it the hard way. The one all draw with struggling Cittadella leaves Toro on 34 points from 23 games and see’s them drop from sixth place (the final play off place) to seventh behing Reggina on goal difference. It is beginning to look ever increasingly likely that goal difference will play a big part in the promotion shake up. If this proves to be the case then Franco Lerda’s men are going to struggle. Their inability to kill teams off when they have them on the ropes is going to come back to haunt them. By the hour mark on Saturday, the Granata should have had Claudio Foscarini’s men throwing in the white towel having not been able to take any further punishment. Instead the game resembled more of a scene straight out of a ‘Rocky’ movie where Citta sucked Toro in and then struck with a killer blow of their own. They very nearly struck a sucker punch right at the death which would have been a traversty of justice.
In the very early stages it took Lerda’s men a little while to settle following the recent run of bad form. In fact Citta threatened twice in the opening quarter of an hour before Toro registered a shot at goal. It was however the Granata who took the lead on 26 minutes when the wonderful footwork of Andrea Gasbarroni got him half a yard to look up and squeeze an inch perfect low cross almost along the goal-line to main man Rolando Bianchi who made no mistake from two yards to register his ninth goal of a stop start campaign so far. By this stage Gasbarroni was starting to run the show and indeed it was him who should have doubled Toro’s advantage just before the break but he failed to convince enough from close range to force the ball past Simone Villanova. It is exactly this kind of glaring problem that the club need to be addressing if they are truly serious about promotion hopes this season. Instead of worrying about whether Bianchi is still going to be at the club, Urbano Cairo should be out identifying the support striker we need to get this great club over the finish line instead of over-relying on one mans poor aching shoulders. The club hasn’t had a decent support man for Bianchi since they allowed Davide Di Michele to leave for Lecce last season. All the time that you rely solely on one man there will be the chance that you let your opponents sneak around the back and through the back door. This is exactly what happened on Saturday when Cittadella couldn’t believe their luck. They truly had played their get out of jail for free card and were celebrating an unlikely point. The goal came when Toro switched off for a quick, short corner and two quick passes later, Citta had worked themselves into a position to whip in a decent cross. Federico Piovaccari’s goal bound header was suddenly redirected completely in the other direction by the head of Toro defender Danilo D’Ambrosio and keeper Davide Bassi could only watch on horrified as the ball looped into the top corner to grab a lifeline for Foscarini’s men.
Despite that avoidable error, Toro had wasted enough chances to have won their next eight games. There were impressive forward displays by Gasbarroni, Alessandro Sgrigna and the ever reliable goal machine Bianchi. Lerda will now have his work cut out on the training pitch in order to find a way of stopping the costly errors that seem to have crept in recently and find a way for his forward line to be more ruthless in front of goal. This weekend sees another difficult trip to mid-table Crotone (who also happen to be Lerda’s former club from last season). The current run of form sees the Granata with no win in three games, which means no win in 2011 for Lerda’s men. This is a run of form which threatens to bring the wheels off of a fine run of form before Christmas which culminated with a 2-1 home win over Empoli on the 18th December and left Toro in 5th spot over the winter break. This run must end and end at the Calabria based club this weekend in front of the small band of Toro fans who will make the trip to the Stadio Ezio Scida.
In transfer rumour news, there was some good news for the Granata today when it was announced on the Sampdoria website that they had signed former Sienna and Palermo front man Massimo Maccarone on a permanent basis. This means that they won’t be looking to sign Rolando Bianchi, certainly in this transfer window. It does however mean that there remains a vacancy at his expected desternation of Fiorentina.
Varese 3-0 Torino.
81 Zappino 41 Bassi
31 Pisano 50 Pratali
2 Pesoli 6 Ogbonna
33 Pugliese 21 Garofalo
3 Claiton 88 D’Ambrosio
11 Zecchlin 7 De Vezze
7 Carrozza 19 De Feudis
4 Frara 44 Stevanovic
8 Corti 9 Bianchi
21 Ebagua 14 Sgrigna
10 Leonidas 20 Lazarevic.
Stadio Franco Ossola (Varese).
Goals: Varese- Frara 45, Claiton 48, Concas 79.
Franco Lerda’s Torino were ripped apart on Saturday afternoon and taught a valuable footballing lesson as the race for automatic promotion to Serie A really begins to heat up. Inside the compact Stadio Franco Ossola, the Granata were slow, inept and missed far too many chances for a side with nailed on plans for promotion. Toro also lost a man as two deserved yellow cards were shown to midfielder Daniele De Vezze, which now means he will sit out next weekends vital home game with strugglers Cittadella.
The finishing was weak, distribution was poor and the defending was down right disgraceful as in form Varese (who have just achieved back to back promotions from Serie C2 to Serie B) took full advantage of an out of sorts Granata. Over the last 18 months, both English and Italian press have labelled Toro as the biggest club outside the top flight. They have the ground, the proud history and more importantly when things are going well, the support to sustain a life inside the top flight. However in more recent seasons, they have begun to allow their standards to drop, their footballing ambitions seemingly going with them. Once a proud club, Toro have spent the last decade bouncing between the top two divisions more frequently than a piece of chewing gum stuck to a kangaroo’s foot.
Star names have come and gone, the latest of them seemingly being club captain and talisman Rolando Bianchi. The facts are clear for club President Urbano Cairo to see. For Bianchi to stay at the Stadio Olympico beyond this season, then Lerda has to deliver on his promise for Serie A football. Whether they go straight up or have to settle for the lottery of the play-offs once more, they have to be preparing for trips to neighbours Juventus, AC Milan, Inter and Roma and not another season travelling to Sassuollo, Ascoli and Crotone. Bianchi has stayed beyond reasonable doubt loyal to the Granata to the bitter end. However, one feels if they don’t make it up this season, the iconic figure will be sold to help to balance the books. After his relative reborn and rise again following an indifferent spell at Eastlands, the home of Mancheater City, under Sven Goran Eriksson, Bianchi was a useful addition to squad, even soring at Eastlands againtest close rivals Bolton. Bianchi has the natural talent to continually find the net, but it seems if they don’t make it through to the promised land, the Bergamo born hitman could be booking a one way ticket out out of the Olypmico. With Cassano now out of the way with a permanent switch to Milan, the Genoa based club (Sampdoria) are looking for a replacement to fill the void as young United starlet Federico Macheda is only on loan for the remainder of the seasson and Sir Alex Ferguson won’t allow him to make a permanent switch. There has also been press talk of a return to the Premiership for Bianchi as both Merseyside clubs are desparate for new frontmen, but this seems a more distant proposition. It seems ever more increasing that they may have to part company with a player who has been a revelation in his time in Turin but clubs have to move on.
Saturday’s defeat in Varese has led to the team dropping two places to seventh and more importantly falling ten points behind the top three of Novara, Atalanta and Siena who are all locked together on 43 points. It would take an almighty push from Toro now to cut that lead at the top, so Lerda’s men may have to settle for another trip to the play-offs. What happens, the Granata have to up the tempo of their game and show a new level of urgency if they are to secure the best possible position in the play-offs. Franco Lerda is going to be a very busy man over the next couple of months.
Torino travel to fourth place Varese tomorrow for what could be an important chapter in the clubs push for Serie A football. After losing in the play-off final last season, Franco Lerda’s men were widely expected to be very strong challengers for this season’s Serie B title. In fact the ‘Granata’ had such a slow start that they spent much of the first three months in the wrong half of the table. Lerda’s remit at the start of the season from owner Urbano Cairo was for a minimum of a play-off place. They currently sit in sixth place (the final play-off spot), two points behind tomorrow’s hosts, the surprise package of Varese.
Varese have just experienced back to back promotions from Serie C2-C1, and then C1-B. A further promotion into the top flight would be the ultimate achievement. Defeat to the ‘Granata’ however, would see Lerda’s men leap frog them into serious promotion challengers. There is now a five point gap from Siena in third to Varese in fourth place. The top three of Novara, Atalanta and Siena are separated by only two points now after the Piedmont based club had a seven point gap at the top going into December. Defeat to Chievo in the Coppa Italia signalled the start of a bad run which has seen Atalanta draw level on points with them. This in turn has given renewed optimism to Franco Lerda’s men as the ‘Granata’ have started to hit better form. This has been helped in large parts by the return to goal scoring form of talisman and skipper Rolando Bianchi who has so far hit eight goals in this campaign, carrying on from the 24 Serie B goals he scored last term. This will give renewed optimism to the Stadio Olympico faithful who are expecting their heroes to go one better this term.
Although we are in Serie B this term, I thought I would plug this Serie A Fantacalcio league that Dan at the Reggina blog has organized. We can still keep our Italian football knowledge sharp and have a fun relaxing time playing some fantasy football. Here are the details (copied from the Reggina blog): Read the rest of this entry »
This weekend was not a particularly memorable in the granata world as we were eliminated from the Coppa Italia and have not made any more dealings in the transfer market. There is still some work to be done before the season starts next week, but it looks like we will be ready for the season opener against Grosseto next Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »
Torino are through to the next round of the Coppa Italia after a narrow 1-0 win over Lega Pro side Figline. As commentators appropriately noted, it is the Toro of August, as we are still in many ways getting ready for the league campaign ahead. Rolando Bianchi scored the only goal of the match, assisted by David Di Michele, making his competitive debut after a loan spell in England. We also saw true Toro debuts from Simone Loria and Nicolás Gorobsov, who both started, and our most recent signing, Massimo Loviso, who replaced the latter early in the second half. Read the rest of this entry »
There was more activity in Toro’s mercato late this week as the team saw one player out and another fill his shoes. On his way out is World Cup winner Simone Barone while coming in is midfielder Massimo Loviso from Livorno. More after the break as well as a rundown on our participation in the Coppa Italia, which starts tomorrow for us. Read the rest of this entry »