A year of turmoil at one of Italy’s most famous clubs is almost at an end. Four coaches, player unrest and a violent backlash from disillusioned tifosi have made this an annus horribilis in every sense. At the heart of all this lies a battered and bruised President, who seems unable to steady a slowly sinking ship. How different everything was just four years ago when Urbano Cairo took over Torino, bordering on extinction, and promised to bring the glory days back to a club totally overshadowed in the modern era by their city rivals, Juventus. Nine managers later, and Cairo is fighting hard to keep control amid growing unrest from within the boardroom and from the terraces.
This season has seen Cairo again wield the axe before the Christmas break. After a good start to the season, Coach Stefano Colantuono took the fall for a wretched run of games that saw Toro lose ground in the promotion race as they slipped to mid-table obscurity. Enter Mario Beretta, a Coach with a decent pedigree at the top level who Cairo proudly proclaimed “was the right man at last” to get the Turin giants back into Serie A. Bizarrely, Beretta failed his first medical and was unable to take his seat on the bench for his opening game against Gallipoli, which was the Granata’s last victory. Two back-to-back defeats, with Beretta overseeing operations from the dugout, have already made his position precarious, and fortunes will need to turn around quite quickly after the Christmas break if he is to avoid becoming Cairo’s fifth managerial change this calendar year.
The fans have had enough however, and their vitriol is aimed at one person and that is Cairo himself. Just this week, the unveiling of new transfer consultant Gianluca Petrachi was interrupted by 100 or so disgruntled tifosi, who let off flares and smoke bombs in an effort to try to get the message across to Cairo that they will not stand for anymore lame excuses as to why the team is struggling in the way it is. The club’s sporting director Rino Foschi also came under intense provocation and the New Year looks set to be a make or break time for him too.
As the transfer window beckons, Torino will certainly be looking to strengthen their squad. The club have earmarked a new central midfield player, another striker to ease the workload of their top marksman Rolando Bianchi, and two new wide players to start providing the ammunition to the former Manchester City man. Bianchi has been one of the few success stories over the last 12 months in Turin and so far he is top of the Serie B scoring charts with 12 goals and has been ever present this season. Unfortunately, his strike partner David Di Michele has not lived up to his top billing and in 17 appearances has only found the net on four occasions. Indeed, with the players at their disposal, Toro should be doing far better than their current position suggests. In goal they have Matteo Sereni, a player with vast experience and Simone Loria, was brought in during the summer to add steel to the back-line. In midfield Aimo Diana, who has played 13 times for Italy, is a class act who should be playing in the top-flight. Put all this together and you would think that the team has all the right ingredients for success.
The reality is very different – Torino is a side that is devoid of any confidence, desire and motivation. Events off the pitch cannot be helping matters on it. With the trigger-happy Cairo making a habit of changing his Coach every three months or so, the stability is never in place long enough for the squad to adapt to a new man at the helm and for that the blame must be laid solely at the feet of a President who seems reluctant to give any of his coaches time to blend the squad into the style they want. So as we head into the second half of the season, Cairo must now decide whether to stick or twist with his current Coach, to see if he can find the right blend to mount a serious promotion push.
Beretta was lost for words after his side’s last outing away to Vicenza, proclaiming that his team were beaten both “tactically and technically”, he will hope to see a vast improvement when his team next takes to the field on January 5 against lowly Mantova. If things do not improve quickly, he will join a long line of managers deemed surplus to requirements under Cairo’s presidency. As for Cairo, he needs to take a long hard look at himself and decide whether the time is right to hand over the reigns before one of Italy’s most famous names is damaged beyond repair.