Torino Club Focus: Season Preview 2013/14
Last season it was mission accomplished as far as objectives for the campaign went for the Stadio Olimpico outfit upon Torino’s return to Serie A.
Now, Toro will be looking to go one better and consolidate themselves in the division, avoiding that dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ which they have been particularly prone to suffering from over the past 20 years as they yo-yoed between the divisions.
It was a successful sojourn back to the top flight last year but for a very disappointing season run-in during which they outdid much of their early season hard work by failing to register points during the crucial final few months.
There were bright spots over the course of the 2012/13 season such as the 5-1 thrashing of Atalanta in Bergamo, the victory in the snow against Lazio and classy draw against Inter at San Siro but on the whole, the performances were disappointing as the club sunk to 17th position and better is needed this season.
The club have strengthened well in the transfer market and can be happy with their dealings so far but disappointing are the losses of icons Rolando Bianchi and Angelo Ogbonna (all the more painful considering where he ended up given his many years of service to Torino having come through their youth ranks) as well as the Bari contingent at the club implicated in the betting scandal none more so than first choice goalkeeper Jean Francois Gillet.
Keeping Alessio Cerci at the claret-clad club has been a major bonus as the winger was unquestionably one of the stars of the season and was undoubtedly Torino’s key player over the course of the season and once more big things will be expected of him.
Nicola Bellomo, Matteo Brighi and Alexander Farnerud could play a big part in a revamped Torino midfield that should see them line up in a new 3-5-2 formation having stuck with 4-2-4 throughout the last campaign.
Ciro Immobile, Riccardo Meggiorini, Jonathas and Marcelo Larrondo are the men charged with scoring the goals this season for a Granata side who struggled to much in that department for it not to hurt them this season if changes are not made on the tactical front.
They have strengthened an already reasonably strong defence with some astute signings and have managed to keep a hold of key players like Danilo D’Ambrosio and Kamil Glik, who following the departure of Bianchi has been promoted to captain.
This has been a good mercato by Torino’s standards as they have recruited some much-needed signings of a calibre of player who could be all important in helping Toro survive in Serie A once again.
Two quality midfielders have been brought in, Bellomo from Bari and Napoli’s Omar El Kaddouri who will both lend a great deal as far as pace and creativity goes while the permanent signing of Brighi from Roma is crucial because if he can avoid the injury worries that plagued him last season, there is no question that he can be a major player this season.
Ousseynou Thiao, a central midfielder, arrives from Genoa to add further competition for places in the midfield while Farnerud represents a fantastic signing too and should slot in effortlessly having arrived for €1.8 million from Young Boys.
Defensive duo Emiliano Moretti and Cesare Bovo have arrived from Genoa to add steel to the back line that should perform reasonably well this campaign and Daniele Padelli is the goalkeeper chosen to replace Gillet although Gianluca Pegolo is also being linked with Toro and would represent an excellent signing as is Red Star defender Nikola Maksimovic.
As far as outgoing players go, Bianchi and Ogbonna are big losses but Torino have managed to hold on to most of their other big talents and gotten rid of some of the player’s merely inflating the wage bill such as Mario Santana, Valerio Di Cesare, Ferdinando Coppola.
With the side now set to play in a 3-5-2 formation, they should be able to create more chances you would hope and Immobile provides at least some cutting edge for him to work with.
He can be somewhat stubborn in his ideals though and this is something that the Granata have simply had to become accustomed to although it would be refreshing to see him make tactical changes to suit the players at his disposal, something not witnessed enough last season, and make much better use of his bench which is another flaw against him but the veteran coach has a wealth of nous and experience to rely on which could prove vital.
Already having crashed out of the Coppa Italia at the hands of newly relegated Pescara is a major disappointment to fans who always dream of a potential cup run to focus upon.
However, with that already no longer an option, it will allow Toro to focus entirely on preserving their Serie A status and this is certainly a squad stronger than others who could struggle this season with real match winners like Cerci, Immobile, Bellomo, Larrondo and Farnerud within its ranks.
Torino will probably not set the world alight once more with their performances or results on the whole but look out for some eye-catching displays every now and then as witnessed last season.
An upper bottom half position should be more than achievable.
Oh, and a derby win would be nice.