Alasdair Mackenzie Date:20th December 2020 at 4:22pm
Written by:

Marco Giampaolo decided it was time for change. A spark was needed, fresh impetus to lift the thick fog of gloom from what has been a catastrophic campaign so far.

The former AC Milan coach made five changes to the team that fought back from two goals down against Udinese on Sunday, only to immediately concede again and lose 3-2.

And those changes had a theme to them – out goes the old, in comes the young.

The average age of the Toro team at the Stadio Olimpico was 24 years and 87 days, the youngest they have fielded since coming back up to Serie A in 2006/07.

The brilliantly named Alessandro Buongiorno earned his first Serie A start in defence, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic got his first Serie A appearance in more than two years in goal, and summer signing Amer Gojak was handed a rare chance in midfield.

It looked like a chance for a fresh start, but instead Giampaolo was dished out a serving of cruel irony as the most impressive Torino youngster of the season, Wilfried Singo, picked up two yellow cards in just 14 minutes to leave his coach with a shredded game plan.

The decision was harsh and left the Granata with a momentous task ahead of them. But the ease with which Roma went through the motions of racking up a 3-0 lead by midway through the second half is a concern, 10 men or not.

Torino have now conceded 30 goals in 12 games this season. It’s the worst record in Serie A, and the last team to have started a season with a defensive record this bad and manage to avoid relegation was Pro Patria, all the way back in 1950/51.

Giampaolo has been backed by his employers, but he needs a result soon. He has now lost eight of his first 12 games, the joint-worst record for the club in the three points for a win era.

One win is a staggeringly poor return considering the tools he has available, which includes one of Italian football’s finest marksmen in Andrea Belotti.

Bringing in a coach like Giampaolo, whose footballing philosophy is markedly different to that of predecessors like Walter Mazzari and Moreno Longo, was always going to require a degree of patience to allow a transition to take place.

But should Torino go into the winter break cut adrift in the relegation zone, that patience is sure to be tested. How long will faith in Giampaolo’s ideas last when they are fighting for their Serie A status?

Toro will throw everything they have at Bologna on Sunday, before finishing their 2020 duties with a trip to Napoli.

The last thing they needed before getting just a two-day rest before the game against the Rossoblu, who have had struggles of their own lately, was to play 75 minutes with 10 men.