Thursday, 31 January 2013

Torino's Deadline Day Deals

Torino have had a busy day on the last day of the transfer window, with Brazilian striker Jonathas being the most significant acquisition.

Jonathas has arrived on loan from fellow Serie A side Pescara, and although he has only scored one goal this season - he did score 16 goals for Brescia in Serie B last season.

Perhaps the most surprising move of the day, is the signing of young Belgian striker Nathan Kabasele from Anderlecht. The Belgian Under 19 international has also arrived on loan, with an option to sign the player permanently in the summer, and he will link up with compatriot Dolly Menga who signed for the club last week.

Torino have also re-signed goalkeeper Ferdinando Coppola from AC Milan, and this move has enabled young keeper Lys Gomis to move on loan to Ascoli in order to gain first team experience. Romanian midfielder Sergiu Suciu has also been loaned out to Serie B side Juve Stabia, and he will link up with Toro winger Simone Verdi who also went there earlier this month.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Inter 2-2 Torino

Torino produced one of their best performances of the season, but were denied a deserved victory at the San Siro after substitute Esteban Cambiasso's equalised for the Nerazzurri in the second half.

Giampiero Ventura decided to stick with the same eleven that played so well against Pescara last weekend, so that meant Riccardo Meggiorini was preferred to Rolando Bianchi upfront, despite the fact the Toro skipper had returned from suspension.

football formations
After scoring in the first ten minutes in their last two games, it was Torino's turn to concede early on as Cristian Chivu put Inter ahead with an excellent 25 yard free kick after five minutes. Whilst it was certainly a fantastic strike, the award of the initial free kick was somewhat controversial, as it looked as though Antonio Cassano had in fact fouled Matteo Brighi.

Torino reacted extremely well after going behind, and displayed their confidence by dominating possession against their more illustrious opponents. The Granata scored a deserved equaliser mid-way through the first half when Freddy Guarin was dispossessed by Riccardo Meggiorini, and when Paulo Barreto played the ball back to the former Inter striker, he curled a fine left footed shot into the bottom corner - his first goal of the season.

Toro continued to impress at the start of the second half, and just seven minutes after the restart they surprisingly took the lead. Alessio Cerci sprinted past Alvaro Pereira on the right wing before delivering a low cross that Riccardo Meggiorini side footed past Samir Handanovic. 

Esteban Cambiasso replaced the injured Gaby Mudingayi immediately after the goal, and his introduction seemed to give Inter a boost. However, the experienced Argentine missed a great chance to equalise, as he somehow blazed over the bar from eight yards.

But that missed chance was perhaps just delaying the inevitable as moments later, Javier Zanetti rolled back the years to glide past Guillermo Rodriguez and pulled the ball back for, who else, Cambiasso who this time couldn't miss from six yards out. 

However Torino refused to give in, and when substitute Valter Birsa's cross found fellow sub Rolando Bianchi, it looked as though the Granata would regain the lead - but the Toro captain was denied by an outstanding save from Samir Handanovic, as he turned Bianchi's effort onto the post. In the final minute of the match, an excellent through ball from Giuseppe Vives found an onside Meggiorini, but he was denied an unexpected hat trick by Handanovic, who once again produced a fine save.

This was a great result for Torino, although there will perhaps be some regret, because their performance undoubtedly deserved all three points. It was also a great individual display by Riccardo Meggiorini, who proved his many critics (including myself) wrong by scoring two excellent goals, to supplement another excellent performance. 

Forza Torino

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Inter V Torino Preview

Torino will look to make it three victories in a row when they travel to the San Siro on Sunday evening to face Inter.

The Granata are in good form after victories against Siena and Pescara in the last fortnight, and that means they could take the game to the Nerazzurri as whilst a victory would be welcome, it certainly wouldn't be expected.

Captain Rolando Bianchi returns to the squad after being suspended against Pescara, and he should partner Paulo Barreto upfront after the Brazilian impressed on his debut.

Inter began the season well, and looked as though they would be Juventus' main scudetto challengers, especially when they ended the Bianconeri long unbeaten run in November. However, they have only won once in their last five matches and are currently nine points from Juve, and four points from the last Champions League place.

Inter 1-1 Torino

Menga arrives, Sansone departs

Torino have completed the signing of Belgian winger Dolly Menga on loan from Lierse S.K, whilst striker Gianluca Sansone has left the club to sign for Sampdoria.

19 year old Menga began his career at Standard Liege, but after failing to break into the first team, the Belgian under 21 international moved on to Sint-Truiden and then to Lierse. Despite being predominately left footed, Menga usually plays on the right wing - and he has scored two goals in twenty appearances this season.

It was a busy day at the club on Friday evening, as striker Gianluca Sansone left the club to join Sampdoria on a co-ownership deal. After signing from Sassuolo in the summer, Sansone struggled to become a regular in the Torino starting eleven, and he only managed to score one goal - against Napoli in November.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Pescara 0-2 Torino

Torino's fine start to the New Year continued as first half goals from Mario Santana and Alessio Cerci gave the Granata a comfortable victory over Pescara.

With a number of first team players returning from suspension, Toro made a number of changes from the team that beat Siena last weekend. Winger Mario Santana also returned from injury, whilst Paulo Barreto also made his debut for the club and partnered Riccardo Meggiorini upfront.
football formations
Just as they did seven days ago against Siena, Torino made an excellent start and were ahead within five minutes. Alessio Cerci was allowed to cross the ball from the right wing, and Mario Santana beat the offside trap to mark his return from injury with a goal - although the Argentinean was somewhat fortunate with the finish.

The Granata continued to dominate proceedings, and should have doubled their lead when stand in Captain Danilo D'Ambrosio got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Riccardo Meggiorini, but from only six yards out the former Bari striker was unable to hit the target.

Despite being the home team, Pescara were finding it difficult to create chances - although winger Vladimir Weiss was looking dangerous and his long range shot went wide of Gillet's goal. Torino did double their lead four minutes before half time as a one-two between Alessio Cerci and Riccardo Meggiorini (which included a sublime assist by the latter) put Cerci through on goal, and the former Fiorentina man finished calmly to score.

After nearly letting a two goal lead slip against Siena last week, Toro were rightfully nervous despite their two goal lead, and Pescara should have reduced the deficit early in the second half. A right wing corner was flicked on at the near post to find an unmarked Birkir Bjarnason, but he was somehow denied by the legs of Jean Francois Gillet, who continued his run of fine form.

Former Torino striker Elvis Abbruscato twice came close to giving Pescara a goal back, but he was first denied by the side netting, and then by Gillet. With ten minutes remaining, Slovakian winger Vladimir Weiss was sent off, after receiving two yellow cards - both of which were for simulation.

Toro should have extended their lead in the closing stages, as Riccardo Meggiorini almost capped an impressive performance with a goal, but his left footed shot hit the post. This victory moved Torino up to 11th place, and an incredible 9 points away from the relegation zone. Whilst it is important not to get complacent, Torino are certainly on track to avoid relegation - and perhaps even achieve their highest league finish in the Urbano Cairo era.

Forza Torino

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Pescara v Torino Preview

After last week's dramatic victory against Siena, Torino will travel to Pescara in search of back-to-back victories in Serie A for the first time since May 2008.

Salvatore Masiello, Matteo Darmian, Kamil Glik, Giuseppe Vives and Alessandro Gazzi have all returned to the squad after being suspended last week, although captain and top scorer Rolando Bianchi misses out after picking up his fourth booking of the season against Siena.

New signing Paulo Vitor Barreto has been included in the squad for the first time, and despite Bianchi's absence - Giampiero Ventura is likely to start with Gianluca Sansone and Riccardo Meggiorini upfront, due to the Brazilian's lack of fitness.

Although they actually beat Torino to the Serie B title last season, Pescara were odds on favourites to go straight back down this season. However, after impressive victories against Catania and Fiorentina in recent weeks, the Delfini have clipped out of the bottom three and are only three points behind Toro.

Pescara 1-2 Torino

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Torino sign Paulo Vitor Barreto

Torino have made their first signing of the January transfer window as Brazilian striker Paulo Vitor Barreto arrives on a co-ownership deal from Udinese.

Barreto made his name under Giampiero Ventura at Bari three seasons ago when he scored an impressive 14 goals in 31 Serie A appearances. However, his form has dropped since that impressive campaign, and he has not scored a top flight goal since November 7th 2010 - although to be fair, he has suffered a number of injuries in the intervening period.

So whilst it is undoubtedly a risky signing, and it may not be a long term solution to Torino's striking problems, if Barreto can stay fit and even re-capture some of the form that he displayed at Bari, then he could be a key player for the Granata in the second half of the season.

Maratona and Elsewhere #4 : 'Siamo sempre con voi, Alé! Con Cairo, no. Bastardo!'

Torino 3-2 Siena 13.01.13

As kick-off time approached, our view of the pitch was obscured by an enormous banner depicting the Torino bull emblem. Being versatile, I could stand and simultaneously scream abuse at the stupid individual ten rows of seats in front of me who lit a flare underneath it. My first thought was 'if this thing catches fire…' and my mind went back to Valley Parade. I was at Old Trafford on the day of the Hillsborough disaster and still occasionally think 'in different circumstances, that could have been me'. Perhaps a touch melodramatic but, as Frank Zappa said, stupidity is more plentiful than hydrogen, and stupidity in a football stadium disturbs me. Stupidity inside a football stadium can lead to injury and death.

However, football and stupidity go hand-in-hand. Somewhere farther along the Football Stupidity Spectrum one can find people who sing songs mocking other clubs’ tragedies; stadium collapses, plane crashes, and so on. For example, I find it distasteful when our Ultras sing a song celebrating Liverpool for what happened at Heysel. I am all in favour of football being tribal, but not inhumane.

The final word on football stupidity and Liverpool, however, must go to Bill Shankly, whose famous quote  ('Football is not a matter of life and death: it’s more important than that') remains the one of the most stupid things I’ve ever read.

Rant over. What about the game?

Not a particularly big crowd, and with the still-divided Maratona unable to find its true voice the atmosphere was a bit flat to begin with. Brighi’s early goal gave us a shot in the arm, though. It appeared almost clinical in its execution without the benefit of an action replay - “clinical” is not a word to be used often with this team - but I don’t recall the Siena defence being particularly tigerish in the build-up.

As for the second goal, the Siena defence went completely AWOL. Some will tell you that Rolando Bianchi is the best header of the ball in Serie A. This may be true, though his goal was of the sort Harry Redknapp tells us his wife could score if she was unmarked and six yards out. But the sheer simplicity of Birsa’s cross and Bianchi’s header was a pleasure to behold, and not simply because it flew in the face of Ventura’s preferred style of play. Wingers crossing the ball? Whatever next!

The chest-beating “I am the Captain! Give me that new contract!” celebration under the Curva was all well and good, but unless we change our style of play and cross the ball to Bianchi on a regular basis, a new contract is of no use to club nor player: without service his overall contribution to the team diminishes.

While we’re on the subject of diminishing contributions, I received a text message at some point during the match telling me Cerci was (and I quote) 'playing in a fantastic way'. Well, he did manage to stop being a big girl’s blouse long enough to score the third goal, but aside from that he fiddled with his Alice band, wimped out of tackles and give the ball away all afternoon (a total of 15 - yes, FIFTEEN times). I spoke with a friend after the game, saying I wasn’t sure about Cerci. His response didn’t pull any punches: 'I’m sure about him. He’s a pussy, and we’d have 10 more points this season if we had Rosina - who has NO HAIR, by the way.'

Which brings us to Siena’s Alessandro Rosina, formerly known as “Torino’s Alessandro Rosina”. Loved for his speed, skill, flair, and penalty-taking technique (I have read 'slow and surgical') and subsequent selection for the Italian national team, he was a Granata folk hero. He was made captain, and then… And then, I’m told, the pressure began to tell. His form deserted him. He began to divide fan opinion (and still does). The folk hero was betraying the hopes of the tifosi!! Rosina is the only Torino captain to be jeered at Superga.

When Toro were relegated in 2009, he was sold to Zenit St. Petersburg, where he spent two-and-a-bit years, mostly on the bench. He hasn’t yet added to his one international cap (2007). A case of 'what might have been?'

So the script was written: this was the day that Alessandro Rosina would return to haunt Torino. And sure enough, at 3-2 down in the 89th minute Siena were awarded a penalty under the Curva Maratona. Alessandro Rosina stepped up to score the equalising goal and snatch two precious points away from Toro, under the very noses of the fans who once sang his name.

But the player himself hadn’t read the script! The penalty was slow indeed, but far from surgical.

The ball passed wide of Gillet’s right-hand post, and, to the tune of Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer”, the Maratona once again sang his name ('Alessandro Rosina, olé!). Was the singing malicious, or was it a tribute from those who still love the guy? Or a bit of both? I don’t know. As for the penalty itself, was it the aforementioned pressure, or was it that (as Piero Vietti suggested on, recalling his former hero status, he neglected to leave his heart in the dressing room and simply could not score that goal?

So where does this leave us, other than in 12th place on 23 points (six points above the relegation places)? Well, in descending order:

1) We are by-and-large solidly behind the team, and we should be happy that we won this game with ten players either injured or suspended;

2) We’re merely tolerating Ventura these days. The aforementioned injuries and suspensions forced his hand in terms of selection this time, but his system is unpopular with the fans (and Bianchi, no doubt); all he need do is check any Toro forum to confirm that. This win hasn’t done him any harm, though;

3) We’re definitely not with Cairo, as the title of this piece suggests, and probably never will be. Where has all the TV money gone, Urbano? I understand it’s somewhere in the region of €35 - 40 million, Urbano. It’s not been spent on improving the squad, has it, Urbano?

Don’t get me wrong; I am happy that Emanuele Gatto and Davide Cinaglia have been promoted from the Primavera to the first team, provided it’s part of a plan to nurture and develop our young players. I am not so happy if it’s simply an exercise in not spending any money. Think I’ll leave it at that.

Congratulations to Alfred Gomis for his call-up to the Italy Under-20 side, by the way, and to Il Gattone and his good lady on the birth of baby Gianluca.
  * “We are always with you! With Cairo, no. Bastard!” (sung to the tune of “Rivers Of Babylon”, if you were wondering.)

 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.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Torino 3-2 Siena

Torino overcame a number of suspensions to key players to record an important victory against relegation rivals Siena, although they had a late scare when former Granata skipper Alessandro Rosina missed a last minute penalty.

With Matteo Darmian, Salvatore Masiello, Kamil Glik, Alessandro Gazzi and Giuseppe Vives suspended - changes were forced upon Giampiero Ventura, and he had to give Uruguayan full back Pablo Caceres his first start for the club.
football formations
Toro had a dream start and were ahead within five minutes when Alessio Cerci and Danilo D'Ambrosio combined well down the right wing, and the full back delivered a low cross for Matteo Brighi to score from ten yards out.

However, Siena equalised on the half hour mark when some poor defending from a corner allowed Brazilian Reginaldo to scuff the ball into the back of the net. But it took the Granata just six minutes to regain the lead, when yet another excellent cross from Valter Birsa found and unmarked Rolando Bianchi who headed in from six yards. 

The Tuscan side were pressing for another equaliser just before half time, and Jean Francois Gillet had to make an acrobatic save in order to tip Massimo Paci's header over the bar. In injury time, Siena were made to pay for their over eagerness when a long clearance from D'Ambrosio put Alessio Cerci through on goal, and the former Fiorentina winger ran the length of the pitch before keeping calm to round Gianluca Pegolo and score.

Siena dominated long spells of the second half, and Gillet had to make a great save in order to deny Alessandro Rosina. With fifteen minutes remaining, the away side were rewarded for their second half ambition, as a sublime pass by Reginaldo allowed substitute Michele Paolucci to side foot the ball past Jean Francois Gillet.

That goal gave the Bianconeri momentum, and in the 89th minute - they were given an excellent chance to equalise when Matteo Brighi was adjudged to have fouled Siena debutant Francesco Della Rocca in the area - the second controversial penalty awarded against Torino in as many weeks.

Predictably, it was former Toro captain Alessandro Rosina who stepped forward to take the last minute penalty - and having scored his last eleven Serie A spot kicks - his confidence was understandably high. However, Rosina surprisingly put his penalty wide of the post and that enabled Torino to somehow hold on for a crucial three points.

This victory puts Toro six points clear of the relegation zone, and the Granata seem to be on course to achieve their pre-season aim of avoiding relegation.

Forza Torino

Friday, 11 January 2013

Torino V Siena Preview

Despite needing a number of players to improve the team, Torino have been surprisingly quiet since the transfer window re-opened - so the Granata fans will have to rely on the current squad to secure a vital three points against bottom of the table Siena.

However, the Toro squad is somewhat depleted, as five members of the first team are suspended - including key defenders Matteo Darmian and Kamil Glik. With Angelo Ogbonna also out through injury, the Granata defence looks particularly vulnerable, and forgotten man Pablo Caceres may even make his first start for the club at left back.

Siena are currently bottom of the league, but had they not been deducted six points at the start of the season - they would have been out of the relegation zone, and that therefore makes the recent sacking of coach Serse Cosmi seem somewhat harsh. The Tuscan side have had a similar problem to Torino, in that their main striker - Emanuele Calaiò (who has now left to sign for Napoli) - has scored the majority of their goals (four), and that no other player has scored more than twice. This is also the case with Toro, although their main striker - Rolando Bianchi has scored six times this season.

Torino 1-1 Siena

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Catania 0-0 Torino

Torino started 2013 in disappointing fashion, as despite playing against ten men for almost 80 minutes, the Granata were unable to find a breakthrough.

Giampiero Ventura decided reinforce the midfield against a side who are impressive at home, although somewhat surprisingly, Riccardo Meggiorini was preferred to Gianluca Sansone upfront.
football formations
The turning point of the match occurred just after twelve minutes, when Catania playmaker Francesco Lodi reacted badly to an innocuous challenge from Riccardo Meggiorini, and lashed out at the former Bari striker.
Whilst Meggiorini went to ground a bit easily, referee Mauro Bergonzi was left with little choice but to produce a straight red card for the Catania midfielder.

However, just ten minutes later, it was the home side who were given an excellent opportunity to take the lead, when Giuseppe Vives was harshly adjudged to have fouled Mariano Izco in the area. Fourtunately for Toro, Argentine striker Gonzalo Bergessio's penalty rattled the crossbar, and they were able to clear the danger.

Catania continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides, and Torino had to be thankful for a great save from Jean-Francois Gillet in order to deny Alejandro Gomez from distance. 

Torino improved in the second half, and started to control possession and make the most of their one man advantage. Alessio Cerci almost gave the away side the lead in outstanding fashion, but his curling left footed shot went narrowly wide of the top corner. 

The Granata were struggling to create clear cut goalscoring opportunities, but in the last minute of the match, they almost claimed all three points. Giuseppe Vives' clipped cross was met by substitute Simone Verdi, but he was only able to stab his shot wide of the far post. 

Although prior to the game, a point away from home would have been an excellent result, the fact that Catania were reduced to 10 men for almost the entire game, and yet Torino still struggled to create chances was certainly a disappointment. 

With a number of players suspended for the next match at home to Siena (including key defenders Kamil Glik and Matteo Darmian) - Torino may be forced to do some business in the transfer market before next week, or perhaps more preferably, rely on some of their promising young players who have impressed this season for the Primavera team.

Forza Torino

Friday, 4 January 2013

Catania v Torino Preview

After an enforced two weeks without a match because of the Italian winter break, Torino finally return to competitive action on Saturday evening against Catania.

The Granata have been in Sicily for the past week, for a warm weather ritiro in the small city of Ragusa, and that should mean that Toro are well acclimatised to face a team who are notoriously good at home. Giampiero Ventura shouldn't make too many changes to the side that beat Chievo just before Christmas, so Gianluca Sansone could be given another start up front.

Gli Elefanti are currently four places and six points ahead of Torino, and as mentioned earlier, traditionally tend to do much better at the Stadio Angelo Massimino than on mainland Italy. Catania have lost only two of their nine home games this season (with an impressive six victories), but did suffer a disappointing defeat away to Pescara in the last match before the winter break.

Catania 2-1 Torino

Maratona & Elsewhere #3: 'Buon Natale, gobbo maiale!'

 Torino 2-0 Chievo 22.12.12

An interesting difference between England and Italy regarding football is Christmas. In England, people are getting ready to be with their loved ones and avoid their families for the festive period; in Italy (in Serie A, at any rate) it’s the last game for two weeks, maybe three if your team has an away game the first week in January (as ours has).

So there was an air of diminuendo, not of crescendo. There was a smaller crowd, perhaps because of Christmas shopping and a reluctance to revisit the previous week’s shambles against Milan. And, as these are hard times, the panettone was shared, not thrown.  

But Christmas, like football, does not always bring people together. They are both tribal, commercial activities, often with an element of blind faith, and there will be tribes-within-tribes ('Judean People’s Front?!').

And so the Maratona was split into two tribes. Two groups singing against each other. Singing the same songs. But at different times. Definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. But the divided Maratona did come together, at the beginning of the game, to serenade Presidente Cairo. 'We have to win to stay in (Serie) A' – to the players - quickly mutated into 'We have to spend to stay in A' for Cairo’s benefit. Normal service was resumed shortly thereafter, with singing of the traditional hymns 'Cairo, vattene!' and 'Presidente pezzo di merda!'.

The first half was a demonstration of the inherent simplicity of the so-called beautiful game: if you cross the ball into the penalty area and/or shoot on target, you stand a chance of scoring. Thereby we were 2-0 up within the first half hour. There was a lot of the usual sideways stuff (I thought Rodriguez was Xavi at one stage, and I’m sure we’d win the scudetto if the goals were either end of the halfway line), but we showed attacking intent twice and were rewarded for it.

For the second half my colleagues and I moved from the second level of the Maratona to the first. But everyone there was standing on their seat: it is usually a woman who is the first to do this, simply so she can see over the man in front of her, which forces the person behind her to do the same, and a chain reaction occurs. Since my loss of balance during the Bari game last season (and subsequent hospital visit and week off work - details available upon request) I have been a bit more aware of my physical well-being in crowds, thought this was a recipe for trouble, and moved around to a spot nearer the corner flag where I could sit safely and view the game.

From my new vantage point, the Maratona sounded as if in a bubble. The Olimpico is an athletics stadium, not a football stadium, which detracts from the experience for supporters and players alike, and is not Torino’s spiritual home. It’s a matter that has to be addressed in the medium-to-long term.  

This, however, is not the place for a detailed account of the history of the Stadio Filadelfia (home of Il Grande Torino) and the Olimpico, which was originally the Stadio Benito Mussolini, and the home of the gobbi. I would advise the gentle reader to look elsewhere should he or she wish to research this topic in greater depth.

The second half? Gillet was il gattone with a flying save in the 50th minute (yes, of course cats can fly - see the Tom & Jerry cartoon entitled 'The Flying Cat'), there was a certain amount of pleasure to be derived from simply watching the scoreboard to see other results going in our favour, and there was a generous ovation for Gianluca Sansone’s afternoon’s work when he was substituted.

We were less generous in our reception for his replacement, Sgrigna. Well, he got the bird, to put it in layman’s terms. I later discovered that he chose to sulk and not to salute the crowd after the game, and will be on his way out of the club in the transfer window, with Hellas Verona his most likely destination. Should this transpire, he won’t be likely to receive a warm welcome if our paths cross again in future.

But on 76 minutes, a certain David Di Michele appeared on the touchline as a Chievo replacement. West Ham fans may remember the name, as he spent the 2008-9 season at the Boleyn Ground on loan.

Since becoming Granata I have heard our supporters on numerous occasions chanting 'UCCIDETELI!' ('Kill them!') as an exhortation to our players. This time, however, it was 'UCCIDETELO!' (Kill HIM!). There is a lot more to this than meets the untrained eye. The player joined Torino in July 2007, was fined and banned for four months for match-fixing three weeks later before even playing a game, and was thus seen as damaged goods. Matters came to a head at his birthday party in 2010, when there was an altercation with a group of Ultras and he and six other players were subsequently shipped out of the club. To say he isn’t popular with the Granata tifosi is something of an understatement.

The game drew to a close without alarm, and so 2012 ended on a cautiously optimistic note, with a chorus of 'Buon Natale, gobbo maiale!' ('Merry Christmas, hunchback pig!'), three points and a healthy-enough 13th place in the Classifica. Clearly, there is much work still to do, and many eyes will be on Cairo, Ventura and Petrachi (the Sporting Director) regarding the acquisition of reinforcements in January. Fingers crossed and loins girded for 2013.