Friday, 31 July 2015

Serie A 2015/16 Fixtures Released

Torino will begin the 2015/16 Serie A season with an away fixture against newly promoted Frosinone on August 23rd.

Frosinone are coached by former Torino striker Roberto Stellone, who made 113 appearances for the Granata between 2005 and 2009.

The first Derby Della Mole will take place on the weekend of November 1st at the Juventus Stadium, whilst the return fixture will take place in March.

For the second time in three seasons, Toro will finish the season with an away trip in Tuscany, but this time, Empoli will be the opponents.

Forza Toro!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Bourne's Player Review 2014/15 : Defenders

Cesare Bovo 6.5/10
32, Central defender
21 appearances

Another injury-hit season for the first choice replacement for Glik-Maksimovic-Moretti. Lacks the pace - and to an extent the quality - of the first choice back line but is an experienced, reliable performer. Amazing one of his thunderbolt free-kicks have never hit the back of the net.

Future: Copy, paste from 2014-15

Matteo Darmian 8/10
25, Right/left-back
46 appearances (5 goals)

Toro did well to hang on to Darmian after his emergence on the international scene at the 2014 World Cup. Not so lucky in the summer of 2015 but the time had come, the price about right. Always consistent, defensively sound, the World Cup gave him confidence and he added a goal threat and greater verve to his attacking play in 2014-15. Italy’s finest right-back played most of the Serie A season at left-back given the arrival of Bruno Peres, but shone in his true position in the Europa League. The crucial goal in Bilbao his signature Granata moment (together with the equaliser in the triumphant derby). Shame to see part of the original Ventura squad leave, but we wish a true gentleman and servant buona fortuna.

Future: Manchester United

Kamil Glik 8.5/10
27, Central defender
44 appearances (8 goals)

2014-15 was the season when Glik moved from Granata cult-hero to internationally-revered centre-back. The healthy return of goals helped (mainly headers from well-worked corners) but do not speak alone. His leadership shone, his tackling is cleaner, better timed, distribution excellent. One of few foreign players to truly understand the Granata ethos and an true captain.

Future: Interest is high and Glik would naturally be suited to the money markets of England or Germany. The club may need to adjust its wage cap to keep captain Glik

Pontus Jansson 6.5/10
24, Central defender
16 appearances

The closest member of the squad to Glik in terms of physicality, the Swedish international largely impressed when called upon despite never gaining a consistent run in the side. Foreign defenders always need some time to adjust to Serie A but Jansson performed admirably, aside from a shaky performance away at Cesena.

Future: Definitely has a future at the club but will be looking to gain more playing time in 2015-16 perhaps with one eye on Glik’s future

Nikola Maksimovic 7.5/10
23, Central defender
37 appearances

The most skilful of the centre-backs, sometimes to his cost with over-elaboration in possession. However, many an attack was launched with a Maksimovic through ball. Quick on the ground, good anticipation, strong in the air, he has a future as a 15-20 million euro player. One of the next to leave but Toro will be keen on retaining his services (see Peres) for another year.

Future: The sharks are circulating. Will depend on club’s faith in gaining a higher price further down the line.

Salvatore Masiello no vote
33, Left-back
2 appearances

Out of contract last summer, this Ventura stalwart was surprisingly given a renewal mainly to act as cover during the uncertainty in the early months of the season (Europa League backlog, doubts over Bruno Peres transfer). He featured for just 115 minutes.

Future: After three and a half seasons and just 37 appearances, released

Cristian Molinaro 6.5/10
31, Left-back
38 appearances (1 goal)

Probably not the most inspired signing as the club once again papered over the cracks of the problem left-back position. Molinaro joined the ranks of mid-2000s Juventus players in the Toro ranks (Moretti, Nocerino, Amauri, Quagliarella). Served as the first alternative to Peres-Darmian and acted as first choice left-back in the Europa League campaign. A willing worker, with good pace, defensively sound what lets him down consistently is his final ball/decision making.

Future: The club have decided to extend their rapport with Molinaro who will again likely be a left-back reserve in 2015-16

Emiliano Moretti 8/10
34, Central defender
47 appearances (2 goals)

Another piece of Ventura magic, reinvigorating an experienced/skilful defender discarded by Genoa two years ago and turning him into Italy’s oldest debutant international. Moretti was outstanding throughout the season: brave, classy and a reassuring presence. His standout moment was the deserved, the injury time winner at the San Siro against Inter.

Future: Will be a focal point of the defence in 2015-16 but will be aware of the pressure put on by younger members of the squad

Bruno Peres 7/10
25, Right-back
34 appearances (3 goals)

Perhaps the vote is a little stingy considering he scored Toro’s first derby goal since 2002, and arguably one of the club’s greatest Serie A strikes. When Peres was hot, he was unstoppable. Ask Sampdoria when he inspired the 5-1 mauling and even suffered the wrath of Ventura for toying with the opposition. Pacy, direct, skilful, he improved markedly defensively in second half of the season. There were perhaps just too many pale performances, particularly away from home. Unlucky to miss out on the Europe League campaign.

Future: YouTube moments have inflated his price tag and caught the attention of the big six (notably Roma). Club may want to hang on to him for another season to monetise further but the sensation is he may leave if the price is right.

Gaston Silva 6/10
21, Central defender/left-back
9 appearances (1 goal)

The youngest of the Toro backline and already a full Uruguayan international (and part of their 2015 Copa America squad). Despite being eligible for the Europa League his appearances were fleeting. A double-edge sword. Early on the season looked nervous and clumsy but was not given the run of games to build confidence. Towards the end of the season was afforded more time and looked to have settled in Italy.

Future: All being well, the heir to Moretti as the left-sided centre back. 2015-16 likely to be a big break through season.

Season 2015-2016: Any arrivals will depend on sales. The dream is to keep Glik-Maksimovic-Moretti as first choice with Bovo-Jansson-Silva as alternatives. Any sale may hasten the responsibility put on the young Swede or Uruguayan. At full-back Davide Zappacosta and Danilo Avelar look like interesting additions and will probably begin as first choice depending on the future of Bruno Peres. Molinaro will act as cover.

For more from Peter you can follow him on Twitter here and his book about his experiences following Torino can still be purchased from Amazon here.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Darmian Departs, Duo Arrive

Torino have acted quickly to replace defender Matteo Darmian who ended his four year stay at the club on Saturday by joining English club Manchester United in a deal that could be worth €20 million.

The Granata have quickly re-invested that money, as Atalanta duo David Zappacosta and Daniele Baselli have joined the club for a combined fee of of  €13 million.

Zappacosta is perhaps a like-for-like replacement for Darmian, an attacking right back who has made seventeen appearances for Italy's U21 side.

Baselli is a central midfielder, who like Zappacosta, is an Italian U21 international who began his career at Cittadella.

Forza Toro

Bourne's Player Review 2014/15 : Midfielders

Antonio Nocerino 4.5/10
30, Midfielder
11 appearances

Like Sanchez Mino, looked to be the player to bring some extra quality and guile to midfield. Seems with Ventura the relationship was lukewarm from the start. Injuries didn't help but Nocerino has been in a steady decline since his standout 2011-12 season at Milan. On loan at West Ham before his arrival in Turin he barely made an impression. A player whose wife is a Granata fan may have wanted to make more of a statement but the highlights of his time in Turin were probably reserved for Instagram rather than the pitch.

Future: Didn't excel following January's loan to Parma. Now back at Milan. Expect him to be at a middle/lower ranking Serie A side in September

Ruben Perez 4.5/10
30, Midfielder
8 appearances

8 appearances, 97 minutes in Serie A and none memorable. Probably wasn't given a fair chance but along with Nocerino and Sanchez Mino formed a triangle of failed midfield signings. Barely unpacked his suitcase before he was sent back to Atletico and farmed out to Granada.

Future: Will only return to Italy on holiday

Migjen Basha 6/10

28, Midfielder
6 appearances (1 goal)

An injury plagued season for the Swiss-born Albanian international, one of four survivors from Ventura’s first season in charge of the club. Only returning to the squad in January, Basha had to wait until March to mark his return to first team action. A headed goal in the away win at Parma would provide his only real moment in the sun. Only 159 minutes of first team action.

Future: A loyal soldier and useful midfield enforcer over the past four seasons, his contract has not been renewed. A shame to see Basha go but his departure an inevitable consequence of the club reaching new levels.

Marco Benassi 6.5/10
20, Midfielder
36 appearances (3 goals)

After a decent breakthrough season on loan from Inter to Livorno, Toro acquired half share rights in the player last summer. It’s nice to see Toro putting faith in youth. Highs included some energetic midfield displays in the second half of the season, adding goals to his repertoire, lows included the error in possession which gave Juve a last minute derby winner and the two yellow cards away at Zenit which may have resulted in the team’s Europa League exit.

Future: A decent European U-21 Championship tournament has raised his stock and Toro have taken advantage of Inter’s negligence regarding young, Italian talent and signed him out right this summer. If Benassi grows from this year’s experiences, he could become a player.
Omar El Kaddouri 7/10
24, Midfielder
46 appearances (4 goals)

Aside from the penalty winner against RNK Split which secured Europa League group stage football, the first few months of El Kaddouri’s season were rather rancid – a missed penalty versus Verona, low on confidence and trickery, jeered by the crowd. Gradually he pulled his form together and on a given day was the only Toro midfielder capable of running with the ball, creating space and taking on an opponent. That given day is too infrequent and the tally of 4 goals is a poor return for a player with his natural ability. The vote may be a little high but his performance in the derby alone is worthy of extra recognition.

Future: After two seasons on loan from Napoli, the club and player need to decide whether to execute a permanent deal. The player’s entourage have given the indication he sees his future elsewhere, the club itself seem lukewarm vis-à-vis a significant financial commitment for a player who remains potential rather than the finished article.

Alexander Farnerud 6/10
31, Midfielder
27 appearances (1 goal)

Like Basha and Gonzalez, Farnerud’s season was blighted by injury. One which started with a return from a serious knee injury and finished with a return to the surgeon’s table with another knee issue. Understandably Farnerud never hit the heights of his first season. He remains the most dangerous Toro player from a dead ball but was inevitably playing catch up with fitness for most of the campaign

Future: Another long term injury has probably secured a third season in Turin when the club may have considered letting him go

Alessandro Gazzi 8/10
32, Midfielder
41 appearances (0 goals)

Gazzi’s third season in Turin proved to be his best. Although it probably should never have taken place. The club were set to offload him to Serie B side Spezia on the eve of the new season before injuries forced Ventura to play him in the season opener against Inter. A man-of-the-match performance ensured he stayed in Turin and marked the beginning of an excellent season. After being strangely discarded in his second season (only making 11 appearances after being a regular in 2012-13), Gazzi seized the opportunity acting as the midfield’s chief enforcer, most energetic presence, backline protector and adding an improved repertoire of passing to his game.

Future: Despite the flood of arrivals in midfield already this summer, Gazzi is set to stay for a forth season and extend his Serie A appearances for the club to over a hundred

Álvaro González 5/10
30, Midfielder
4 appearances (0 goals)

Looked a quality January signing, and a player to bring some extra guile and quality to the midfield. Sadly the Uruguayan picked up persistent injuries limiting his playing time to 133 minutes. His only start came in the ill-fated home defeat to Empoli. He didn’t disfigure but even by that stage it was clear Ventura was never going to give him the run of games needed. Could have offered a lot more.

Future: Sent back to Lazio

Juan Sánchez Miño 4.5/10
25, Midfielder
14 appearances (0 goals)

Widely acclaimed as the best summer signing of 2014, the arrival of Juan Sánchez Miño seemed to mark the beginning of a new approach to foreign signings. Arriving from Boca Juniors with a glowing reputation, we were expecting a cultured left sided player capable of adding more creativity and goals from midfield. Instead, he became Ventura’s new version of Sansone and Bellomo, talented signings who never settled and quickly discarded. He was given a chance but looked short on confidence, light weight and overawed. His Toro career effectively ended when he casually missed a penalty in the home defeat to Sassuolo. He never looked like scoring and was almost immediately loaned to Estudiantes de La Plata.

Future: A sad time in Turin for a player with so much potential and for whom such effort was made to bring in. Unlikely to be given a second chance. Perhaps the relatively low price tag Toro paid for a player of his reputation was a already a warning signal
Giuseppe Vives 6.5/10
34, Midfielder
35 appearances (1 goal)

A revelation at the ripe old age of 33 in the 2013-14 season transforming himself from a Serie B workhorse into an evergreen top-flight playmaker. I forecast Vives would struggle to hit anywhere near those heights this year. He started off sluggishly and seemed to prove me right but at the turn of the year found his rhythm and while not offering the same level of quality as his finest professional season took responsibility for the running of midfield. A late equaliser in Florence his crowning moment.

Future: A top half Serie A side should not be relying on Vives to run its midfield but as a popular dressing room character, positive influence on side and fundamental part of the club’s rise it is only right he has signed up for a fifth season. Probably one with much reduced playing time

2015-2016: The midfield has been a problem area ever since the club returned to Serie A. Or rather the lack of a dedicated playmaker has been. Playing with width and a counter-attacking style over the past two seasons has enabled the club to negate having a quality ball player. The time has come for a change and investment. The arrivals of Acquah and Obi and retention of Benassi point to an energetic, youthful midfield one now just missing a creative presence to bring greater game management and goals

For more from Peter you can follow him on Twitter here and his book about his experiences following Torino can still be purchased from Amazon here.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Bourne's Player Review 2014/15 : Strikers

Amauri 5/10
29 appearances (3 goals)

On the final day of the August transfer window, Toro were desperate to add some attacking thrust to what looked like the weakest part of the side, one devoid of Cerci & Immobile. When rumours circulated about a 35-year old, widely ridiculed, journeyman Amauri joining it seemed like a bad joke. On arrival much fuss was made over his waistline and ultimately opportunities to enforce his presence were limited to impact substitute appearances in Serie A and group stage starts in the Europa League. The arrival of Maxi Lopez in January reduced chances further. A willing worker Amauri did claw back some credit with the Maratona faithful. One league goal – the fifth in the rout against Samp – speaks volumes.

Future: Every chance that his long stint in Italy is over and a return to Brazil imminent

Paulo Barreto 4/10
29, Striker
6 appearances (1 goal)

273 minutes of which only three in Serie A all season, a full description is barely required. Barreto has proved a total flop. Apparently low on motivation, he virtually disappeared after the autumn. One pupil Ventura has not managed to reignite.

Future: To be released

Maxi Lopez 7.5/10
31, Striker
23 appearances (11 goals)

Like Amauri, seemed like another unimaginative and lazy acquisition. A last minute winner early into his Toro career at Cesena set the tone with Maxi becoming one of the signings of the season. Magnificent in the two legs against Bilbao (three goals), excellent in the air, he added much needed weight and a focal point to the attack, and without his presence the second half the season would have been much less fruitful. Always looked a few kilos too heavy and with a stronger pre-season behind him (he will need one based on the summer holiday pics published!), Ventura may squeeze even more out of a player whose career seemed on the wane.

Future: My personal opinion is that these first six months may be as good as it gets

Marcelo Larrondo 4/10
26, Striker
11 appearances (2 goals)

Part of the much-maligned, low budget South American strike force (with Barreto) which started the early rounds of the Europa League. Against relatively tame opposition from Sweden he perhaps found his level. A missed penalty on the opening day of the season at home to Inter (one of a series of mystery Granata penalty kickers) signalled the beginning of the end of his time at the club with a loan move to Tigre in Argentina activated in January. Slow, ponderous and rarely a threat in front of goal.

Future: Likely to return to base for the summer with the club having the onerous task of finding a new suitor

Josef Martinez 6/10
22, Forward
40 appearances (7 goals)

One of the more interesting summer signings, the Venezuelan youngster arrived with a glowing reputation in his homeland and an interesting YouTube compilation from his time with Swiss sides Thun and Young Boys. The only Toro player to score in all three competitions, he can be happy with the playing time afforded to him in his first Italian season and the confidence Ventura showed in him. Used frequently to tire opposition defences rather than as an impact substitute he played a vital role in freshening the attack during the busy Europa League weeks. Martinez is still very erratic, tactically immature and too often makes the wrong decision. This will be ironed out in time under a coach like Ventura. Only three goals in Serie A is a poor return for a player with such pace and trickery.

Future: Next season will determine just how good Martinez is, assuming without Europa League football he gets equal playing time

Fabio Quagliarella 8/10
32, Forward
46 appearances (17 goals)

A popular return to the club for a player formerly with the Toro primavera team and who enjoyed a formative season back in 2004-05 before the club went bankrupt. Most of the stellar moments of the season involved Quaglia’s footprint – the crucial last minute penalty against Copenhagen, the stunning hat-trick in the rout of Sampdoria, the historic winner in the derby, a crucial goal in Bilbao. His tally of 13 league goals equals his personal best in Serie A and but for injury in the final weeks of the season he would have broken that landmark. Resolved the club’s problem from the penalty spot, held the ball up magnificently, combined both classic centre-forward play and touches of a fantasista. Blighted only by his decision not celebrate goals against his many former clubs including the Gobbi.

Future: Likely to lead the attack again next season while hoping for a stronger supporting cast around him

2015-2016: Attack likely to be built around Quagliarella and a target man unless there is another Ventura tactical revolution. Target man may be Maxi Lopez but indicators point to a younger forward being drafted in as well. A quality striker is needed. Martinez is likely to offer something tactically different, perhaps more as an impact substitute and a back-up for Quagliarella.

For more from Peter you can follow him on Twitter here and his book about his experiences following Torino can still be purchased from Amazon here.

Obi Signs

Torino have made their third new aquisition of the Summer after signing midfielder Joel Obi from Inter on a four year deal.

Obi made 71 appearances for the Milan giants, scoring two goals and has been capped 16 times by his country Nigeria.

The Granata have also agreed a fee with Pescara for talented midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, but that deal seems to be delayed due to a disagreement regarding personal terms.

Welcome to Torino Joel!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Torino FC Inglese Awards 2014/15 : The Results

Voting has now ended for the Torino FC Inglese 2014/15 awards, and the results have been counted and verified, and I can now reveal that the winners are :

Player of the Season
1st) Kamil Glik
2nd) Fabio Quagliarella
3rd) Matteo Darmian

It was another fantastic season for the Torino captain Kamil Glik who lead his side to a derby victory over Juventus for the first time since 1995. The Polish international chipped in with an impressive tally of eight goals for the Granata, and Toro will be hoping they can hold on to the central defender this summer.

Signing of the Season
1st) Maxi Lopez
2nd) Bruno Peres
3rd) n/a

Despite only signing in January, the Argentine striker scored an impressive eleven goals for Toro, including three memorable strikes against Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League.

Performance of the Season
1st) Athletic Bilbao 2-3 Torino
2nd) Torino 2-1 Juventus
3rd) Torino 5-1 Sampdoria

This is perhaps our first shock result of the awards, as Torino's historic victory against Juventus was not voted as their best display of the season. However, I would also agree with this result when one considers that Toro were rather lucky to come away with the three points against their great rivals. The performance against Bilbao was one of those nights when every single player played to their maximum and ensured Toro became the first Italian team to win at the San Mames and they also progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League.

Unsung Hero of the Season
1st) Omar El Kaddouri
2nd) Alessandro Gazzi
3rd) Nikola Maksimovic/Daniele Padelli

This result may also shock a number of people as Omar El Kaddouri wins the award for the unsung hero of the season. In polite terms, Omar saved his best form until the 2nd half of the season, but I am sure some supporters could use some rather 'un-polite' terms for his form before the winter break. However, the Moroccan international excelled against Bilbao and also in the derby.

Goal of the Season
1st) Bruno Peres v Juventus
2nd) Fabio Quagliarella v Napoli
3rd) Matteo Darmian v Athletic Bilbao

Could this award have gone to anybody else? Bruno Peres obviously won this award by a landslide, 81.3% of the vote after his length of the field effort in the derby which ended Toro's twelve year wait for a goal in the derby.

Forza Toro