Once again, all too quickly, we are back in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Wailing despondency erupted, within the fanbase and mainstream pundit platforms after our midweek home defeat to Sassuolo. Which was the first game I had missed, gladly so it turns out.
Yet had I watched it, whilst I would have been annoyed, disheartened, not much would have changed in my general quiet positivity which has developed of late. For unlike some, I was not seriously expecting us to challenge for the league title this year. Far from it. And the recent run of solid form had done nothing to change this. All it suggested to me was that Max already is working out how to get the side to defend as a team, not worrying much of the attack, just organising movements to make us far more solid defensively than we have been for a year or so.
Perhaps 3 or 4 seasons back, I would have become horrified by such a defeat, but not now. For to do so suggests the memory of a goldfish or very little understanding of the game. I am unsure how many truly glean how fortunate we were to even achieve 4th place last season. Nor how poorly assembled this squad was forged under the appalling mudded guidance of Paratici.
Much of the blame of last year rests with Pirlo and those above who employed him. Yet even a top class coach would struggle to turn this squad into title contenders, especially after we lost an elite goal scorer late in the pre-season, and were unable to replace him. Some suggest we failed miserably by bringing home Kean, and continuing with Morata. Could be some truth to this, but the nut of the matter is that this came down to money, mainly. We haven’t paid a euro for Kean yet. Precisely because we had and have barely any money to spend. And not many clubs will allow their star players to leave without money coming in to replace them.
I doubt we would have been able to sign Locatelli, again without paying a EURO for two years, had it not been for the player’s determination to join his boyhood favourite club. Alongside Sassuolo begrudgingly bending over backwards to allow the move to happen.
Those two moves, easily our biggest of the mercato window, involved us spending 0 EUROS. They also came on relatively cheap wages, with Locatelli on around EU5.6m and Kean EU3.1m per year. More need to think about this…
The biggest costs of players coming IN was 10m for Morata’s latest loan extension and 3m for Jorge. I don’t think that is good value, but under our present dire circumstances, maybe it is?
All of this confirms what the reports of our mega losses and bail-out from EXOR confirmed, namely that we are running at a major loss. It is simply not a sustainable business model to expect a 300m EURO bail out from the parent company every year, COVID ‘pandemic’ or otherwise.
This is why we didnt sign Dzeko, or Scamacca, or even Giroud…let alone Donnarumma. We could not afford them. So the club have attempted to plug some gaps in the best way possible.
It is reasonable to look at Cherubini, and the curious Arrivabene, alongside the alleged involvement in recruitment of Max, yet any criticisms aimed in those directions must be tempered by the reality of our hideous financial current status.
Briefly, on the management…
Whilst I like the idea of promoting from within, and am aware of Cherubini’s steady rise through the youth sector to Paratici understudy, the SD role is pivotal in italian football (increasingly so elsewhere also). This role needs to be occupied by a proven expert, with demonstrable experience, plenty of contacts and nous when it comes to negotiations. Paratici proved a superb head scout, and understudy to Beppe. This did not in the slightest make him a strong SD. The very opposite is true. As his mismanagement of the recruitment has led to an overpaid, unbalanced squad, which Cherubini has now inherited and will struggle to balance.
At best, if he can come good, quickly, we may be able to wheel and deal our way back to the top domestically in 2-3 years. We cannot afford to pay off the likes of Ramsey and Rabiot, as there will be no money to recruit to replace. Plenty more than those two, I am simply attempting to illustrate that this fledgling new SD has an incredibly tough job, with or without the help of Arrivabene – who I remain unsure of in regards to what he is doing – and Max, again no real idea of how much input he has in signings.
My suspicion is that Agnelli and his key advisors, which must be Arrivabene and Cherubini, are searching hard and daily for a new SD and astute player signings. Perhaps Carnevali. Perhaps Tare. For the future. And we have plugged another gap in the meantime with Cherubini, before either of them or comparably experienced professionals become available and willing to join us. It is possible we tried, but the cost of freeing them from their contracts alongside their appetite for the role in our current position, proved too far a leap of faith.
In light of much of the above, I had placed my hopes in September, not expectations, for the season as >>>
- Get out the group stage of the CL into the knock-out rounds.
- Achieve 4th spot in the league for CL qualification.
- Learn to defend and attack as a team
- Find most the squad playing at their average or better.
- An identity to appear of our tactics and style
We already look certain to achieve the first. Great promise was shown of late to meet the third. The second aim is probably the most important and we are far removed from finding that now mission impossible. With the fourth and fifth still open to question with a huge amount of games still to be played.
Since the rather unlucky loss to Napoli, who are in their best form for many years >>>
Won 7, drawn 2, lost 1. This run included our best flurry of clean sheets for longer than I can remember, within that sequence a deserved victory over the reigning, worthy European champions Chelsea, when we had still far from our strongest selection available.
We have scored 16, conceded 9. This idea that we struggle to score goals is misleading. Evidently. What is apparent is that we are becoming capable of brief runs of strong, promising form, then we falter when that same system is changed to try accommodate more of the squad. And what is Max supposed to do? He needs to try all players in all systems, before he can settle on what works and what doesn’t. This appears precisely what he is doing. If I am correct, he will learn from the Sassuolo performance and result, and tailor more the next starting XI towards what was working, whilst including some of the returning players.
Max wants to find the best of Rabiot. I wish him luck with that, as I have no idea what that might be. De Sciglio has provided key assists for two goals of late, so I understand why he was given the start (against SASS). Mckennie has been poor but retains the ability to get on the end of things in the box, as he did so, but is no solid partner in the middle next to Locatelli. Yes, I question why our coach began without a natural left sided wide attacking player, but I understand why he experimented. It failed, and all I can hope is that he has learned from this.
We don’t have any naturally attacking left sided players other than Sandro. Who has been in good form, but so has De Sciglio. Chiesa can play there, as can Freddy, but we need to know who else can work there. Rabiot cannot. Maybe Max has the same view, in that we have to have Sandro, with Chiesa or Freddy on the left, or we offer nothing down that flank, but he has to try these things, he has to seek solutions.
Some say we should have kept Fagioli – who is faring well for Serie B side Cremonese – and even the LW flair merchant Felix Correira, struggling to get playing time for Parma. We had no space! It is not as simple as assuming Max didn’t want them. We have no money, and a full squad on mega wages, with those we would like to sell, having not takers or not wishing to leave their luxurious position in Turin. There was no space for them. Either the U23s of senior football elsewhere.
Essentially, that run of strong results of late brought me some joy and encouragement. I don’t need fancy football, I more respect and revere and enjoy solid team football, which Max managed to produce, and then we faltered and lost. So be it! To be expected. No chance I am to assume all is lost, as those who do, are at odds with watching us deservedly outfox and outfight one the strongest, best managed sides on the planet recently.
Nothing has changed. We remain on course to fight for what I considered our reasonable aspirations. Plenty of games still to come. Nothing is certain, anything is possible. And if you truly cannot bear to focus your energies so hinging on every result of Juve, I would suggest you take a break, for a year or two, then return. And in the meanwhile, read some of these amazing tomes>>>
“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you” – Count of Monte Cristo, Dumas
“But now the world breaks in on us, the world is shocked, the world looks upon our idyll as madness. The world maintains that no rational man or woman would have chosen this way of life – therefore, it is madness. Alone I confront them and tell them that nothing could be saner or truer! What do people really know about life? We fall in line, follow the pattern established by our mentors. Everything is based on assumptions; even time, space, motion, matter are nothing but supposition. The world has no new knowledge to impart; it merely accepts what is there.”
― Mysteries – Knut Hamsun,
“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934
“It is an error to divide people into the living and the dead: there are people who are dead-alive, and people who are alive-alive. The dead-alive also write, walk, speak, act. But they make no mistakes; only machines make no mistakes, and they produce only dead things. The alive-alive are constantly in error, in search, in questions, in torment.”
― Yevgeny Zamyatin, A Soviet Heretic: Essays