The 2020/21 campaign will be remembered for Torino attempting to forget a second straight battle with relegation, Toro fans will probably take more pleasure in crosstown rivals Juventus’ failing to win a 10th consecutive Scudetto.
From the moment the Granata lost to Fiorentina on the opening day, it became a constant struggle in the fight to do anything more than keep themselves just above those fighting for survival and registered eight defeats in their first 12 games.
Although the appointment of Davide Nicola at the halfway stage of the season ultimately facilitated their securing of Serie A status for another year, Il Toro will have to do much better if they do not want another season living in fear of top-flight status.
Player of the Season: Andrea Belotti
The Torino captain continues to score more goals and play more games (apart from Tomas Rincon this season) than anyone else in a continually underperforming squad and it cannot be long until the striker realises that the burden of expectancy would weigh much lighter away from Turin.
In his usual bullish way, the 27-year-old continued the Granata fight during periods in which it looked as though very few others had the desire or ability to lift them away from relegation. Each of Belotti’s 13 league goals this season played a crucial part in retaining Serie A status and their loss would be an enormous blow.
Best Signing: Rolando Mandragora
After struggling earlier in the campaign at Udinese with injury, parent club Juventus recalled the Italian midfielder and handed him over to their city neighbours, where few expected more than cameo appearances from the substitutes bench.
Mandragora quickly became one of the first names on the Granata team sheet, though, and became an assured presence in front of the Torino defence and even contributed three goals and an assist during his 12 Serie A appearances.
The Coaches: Marco Giampaolo and Davide Nicola
Much like his time with AC Milan, Marco Giampaolo’s spell with Toro didn’t go to plan. A disastrous first half of the Serie A season saw him dismissed in January.
Fresh on the back of saving Genoa from relegation last term, the 47-year-old took charge of Torino with just half of the 2020/21 campaign remaining and the side looking as though they were just prolonging their eventual slide into Serie B.
However, Nicola’s impact was instant, as Il Toro remained unbeaten during his first six games in charge and oversaw two vital confidence-building wins against European qualification chasing Sassuolo and Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.
With just 13 minutes of normal time remaining against Sassuolo, Torino somehow turned a two-goal deficit into a memorable last-gasp 3-2 victory, that probably instilled the belief that they could survive.
The Simone Zaza goal two minutes into injury time that defeated the Neroverdi in mid-March, suddenly became the catalyst for their best run of the season, as they collected 11 points from a possible 15.
When AC Milan visited the Stadio Olimpico in Round 36, coach Nicola rested more than half of the Granata first-team, to keep them fresh for the fixtures against Spezia, Lazio and Benevento, which were expected to determine their Serie A survival.
However, while Torino slumped to an expected defeat against the Rossoneri, the 7-0 mauling they suffered at the hands of the visitors seemed to have a greater impact than the immediate embarrassment and only just finished 17th, after collecting just two points from the last three games.