Torino 2-4 AC Milan - 9.12.12
Hardly a dull moment. A strangely circular day: we began with 'Berlusconi! Pezzo di merda!' and ended with 'Cairo! Pezzo di merda!'. In view of the fact that Berlusconi is Cairo’s former boss (look it up), I guess we were reading from the same agenda throughout the match. But this still is not a political blog, so no more Berlusconi references, no matter how tempting they might be in the week of Mario Monti’s resignation announcement.
The over-riding feeling in the Curva before kick-off was one of nervousness, and I think that was evident in the 12th man’s performance. We were a bit subdued. Clearly, we don’t expect champagne-and-caviar football from this team, but maybe we’re feeling weak after nearly half a season of cat food? Even beans on toast would be an improvement. Whether or not that anxiety transmitted itself to the players, I can’t be certain.
I was reminded, however, of a column Harry Pearson wrote in The Guardian a few years ago, reminiscing about being taken to Ayresome Park on one occasion to watch Middlesbrough when he was a kid. His father remarked upon how lovely and green the pitch was, and a voice behind him said, 'not surprising with the amount of shit that’s been on it.'
We retained the classic 4-2-2 formation from the Derby. We showed no speed of foot or thought. We remain allergic to crossing the ball (the heading of which is Bianchi’s only strength). We gave the ball away ad nauseam, and provided our usual masterclass in passing the ball sideways.
Some notable individuals:
Jean-François Gillet has made himself a firm favourite with the fans this season, which in itself tells you the kind of season we’ve been having, but he only appeared to have one oar in the water against Milan. Il Gattone di Liegi (the “Big Cat of Liege”) was more gateau than gattone.
Riccardo Meggiorini. Ah, Meggiorini. According to Opta, the worst passer of a ball in Serie A at the moment (61% accuracy). According to Wikipedia, once valued at €5 million. I don’t like to kick a bloke when he’s down, and hearing the whistles when he was substituted didn’t give me any pleasure, but the fact he was substituted did. He has contributed nothing this season, and I can only guess that he has Ventura’s grandchildren locked in his cellar in order to guarantee his continued selection;
Rolando Bianchi. Header. Goal. Otherwise, nothing. I think a parting of the ways in January is on the cards. Interesting, too, how we (and the stadium announcer) all shouted Santana’s name 5 times after his goal, 0 times for Bianchi after his;
Speaking of parting of the ways, I have read on and off for months that Angelo Ogbonna would be off to pastures new and more lucrative (Bayern last summer on loan, Milan or Manchester United in January for £13 – 15 million). He has been quoted recently as saying he wants to play for a “top team”, and for him the top team is Real Madrid. But injury, a few lacklustre performances of late and a refusal to give a straight answer to the Giuventus question is trying the patience of some – I even heard somebody in the Curva call him a gobbo.
As for Milan’s Stephan El Sharaawy, the current hot property of Serie A, I wondered pre-game if he would live up to his nickname Il Faraone – the Pharaoh; he is half-Egyptian – or if he would be La Faraona (the guinea fowl, thanks to his silly haircut). Well, he didn’t do a lot wrong, nor did Robinho for that matter, but we made it easy for them both to look good.
Referee? Well, we never seem to get a good one! No foul by Pazzini? No handball on Sansone’s overhead kick? Di Cesare booked for shaking Amelia’s hand after Amelia had fouled him? Seven Milan players left the playing area to celebrate each of their goals, delaying each restart; not one yellow card. No point complaining about any of that. No news there.
And so the game petered out to a chorus of anti-Cairo chanting - 'Spend some money, you prick' being perhaps the most polite. As is customary, after the final whistle the players moved towards the Curva for what is usually a moment of mutual applause. Not this time. We waved them away with a flea in their collective ear: 'fuori le palle!' (Show us some balls!)
Dark mutterings. The “R”-word (relegation) circulated around the crowd as we filed out.
I understand that Giampiero Ventura was taken ill after the game, but was given the all-clear (migraine, and a drop in blood pressure). He wasn’t the only one feeling a bit sick after that performance.
And there I was, thinking I’d have nothing to write about after invading enemy territory last week…
Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.
*A Correction* - Last Week I erroneously reported that Giuventus paid €0,58 per square metre for the land for their stadium. The €0,58 figure is for land at Continassa, upon which the Agnelli family intend to build a go-karting track – just what a city on the verge of bankruptcy needs! For the stadium and adjoining shopping centre, they paid a whopping €4,20 per square metre.