Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Bourne's Season Review Part Six : Strikers

Part Six : Strikers

Paulo Vitor Barreto de Souza, 16 appearances, 3 goals, vote 6
Another player Toro have courted since Ventura arrived this despite chronic injury problems that saw the former Bari man (another one) feature just eleven times in two years for Udinese and go the same period without a goal. Given a rare start in Udinese’s draw with Toro earlier in the season, he seemed light years away from being the player who shone at Treviso and under Ventura in Puglia. Toro were unperturbed and eventually acquired the aeroplane-fearing Brazilian in January with the 27-year old proving a veritable enigma. On the positive side, fears of recurrent injuries problems were dispelled – the striker missed just one match. The early impressions were positive: Barreto’s quick feet, interesting link-up play and hard work impressed. As the weeks rolled on his lack of confidence in front of goal proved increasingly crippling and his scruffy effort in the win over Napoli arrived in his tenth game for the club. After which, another two opportunistic goals suggested the real Barreto was back only for him to fade in the final weeks. My feeling is fatigue played a factor and given a healthy and full pre-season we could see Barreto return to form in 2013-14. At times he needs to be braver in challenges and impose himself on the game. A series of poor misses – a penchant for snatching at chances – suggest he still needs to rediscover his clinical touch.

Verdict: The only forward certain to feature next season. Is the perfect second forward in Ventura’s counter-attacking system, a position he may challenge with Cerci next year. Interesting to see if he has the physicality and quality to play as a first striker.

Rolando Bianchi, 32 appearances, 11 goals, vote 6.5 
The telenovela of the season, Bianchi’s contractual situation dominated headlines and supporters thoughts. The end result was predictable, a loveless end to an unhappy marriage. I like Bianchi the man and in his five seasons with the club – a large part as captain – he has demonstrated a love and respect for the shirt, a sensitive understanding of Toro’s history and comported himself admirably. In the non-Ventura years, he was the fulcrum of the side, a scorer of regular goals for whom the side was constructed around. Never the quickest, but technically valid and potent in the air, he carried the team during the first few seasons back in Serie B. Enter Ventura in the summer of 2011 and Bianchi’s importance to the team diminished. His static play and desire for crosses into the box has never fitted with Ventura’s high pressing, speedy, counter-attacking style. Last year a measly eight goals in Serie B demonstrated that Bianchi was finding it tough. The club’s highest earner, he has been on the verge of leaving during the past few transfer windows although Toro have been reluctant to sell him to a direct rival. Any chance of a contract renewal has never been realistic, partly because of his large salary, mainly because he no longer fits the team’s system. I would like to thank Bianchi for his 77 goals and his contribution to the club but unlike my fellow Torino bloggers, I’m not too sad about his departure. At the very top level, he’s had at the most two prolific seasons and if the club are going to stick with Ventura it makes sense to change. What worries me more is if the club have the ability to bring in an upgrade.

Verdict: Bianchi enjoyed a Hollywood ending with his goal against Catania and the ovation he deserved. 11 goals is also a decent return. Cairo and Petrachi need to demonstrate they can bring in one or two forwards of a higher quality. Good luck Rolly!

Jonathas de Jesus, 11 appearances, 2 goals, vote 6 
Mmmmm. The jury is definitely out on this one. Signed from Pescara in January where after a decent season in Serie B with Brescia he stank the place out. Jonathas was something of a leftfield January signing. Perhaps acquired with the intention of having a targetman on the roster in anticipation of Bianchi’s departure, he is something of a mystery. Two goals, an opportunistic winner against Lazio and a neatly taken penalty at home to Napoli offered some positives. Only given one start, the Brazilian’s substitute appearances ranged from the awkward and confusing to effective. Not the quickest nor most technically comfortable, the club must decide how much room for progress the 24-year has.

Verdict: Its 50-50 whether Toro decide to buy out his Pescara contact. I’d definitely not be comfortable with the idea of him starting the season in attack but have seen enough to be a little bit intrigued. Hard to judge only on substitute appearances.

Riccardo Meggiorini, 31 appearances, 3 goals, vote 5
Possibly the most controversial of Ventura’s choices in 2012-13 was his persistence in selecting Riccardo Meggiorini. Signed in the second half of Toro’s promotion season, the 27-year old had been far from convincing, netting only four times and appearing largely anonymous. Three goals this season Serie A is a meagre return for striker clocking up over 30 appearances. It’s hardly a surprise, Meggiorini’s goal return in the top-flight is poor. Continually jeered in the first half of the season, his selection seemed baffling beyond belief. His partnership with Rolando Bianchi has never looked convincing and Meggiorini rarely found himself in goalscoring positions. Two goals and a dynamic performance away at Inter in January came out of the blue forcing fans to think he may have turned the corner. What it offered was a revaluation of the player and his importance to Ventura’s tactical system. Meggiorini is essentially fielded as a defensive attacker, pressing the opposition midfield and creating space for the front three. It’s ugly and not always effective but his hounding of Andrea Pirlo in the Turin derby was his Ĺ“uvre d'art. I’m of the opinion though that Ventura should counter the problem – created by having a continually overrun midfield – by sticking to 3-5-2 or 4-3-3 next season and playing with a more dynamic attack. Meggiorini’s three goals were all magnificently taken, begging the question why he couldn’t do it more often? He is paid as a forward, for which his contribution was minimal.

Verdict: One of the players the club needs to replace in order to move forward. The overall impression though is Meggiorini will be staying for next season so the hope must be he’s reserved as a defensive substitute.

Alessandro Sgrigna, 11 appearances, 1 goal, vote 5.5
Another one who should have been offloaded last summer but was given a first chance at Serie A. Eventually sold to Verona, he had the distinction of scoring Toro’s first goal of the season in the win over Pescara. A handful of appearances later, some nice touches but a growing sensation he was out of his depth, Sgrigna was moved on. Will be interesting to see if he features as part of Verona’s Serie A team next year.

Verdict: Part of the squad that needs a major overhaul on several levels. The talismanic Bianchi has left which allows Ventura the freedom to field his ‘own men’. A change in formation will also lead to a reflection on the type of forwards required. Of the list above only Barreto seems to have the necessary potential. At least three new forwards required.

Peter is the author of the outstanding Torino book 'Passion in the Piazza' which is available on Amazon, and you can follow him on Twitter here.

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