Friday, May 30, 2008

Azzurri omens

Gigi Casiraghi and his boys won the Toulon tournament on Thursday night as a nice warm-up for the Olympics. However, it also bodes well for the future of the Italian national team. Great to see some more talents coming through.

Little Sebastian Giovinco was absolutely outstanding in the tournament. Is he too small for the tough world of football? I hope not, it would be great to see his skills go to the very top.

And the winning goal came from Pablo Osvaldo. God bless the Viola!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stepping into the Jose era

The managerial scene in Italy just got very interesting. With Roberto Mancini shown the door at Inter, in steps a man likely to liven up press conferences everywhere - Jose Mourinho (aka The Special One). Spalletti, Ancelotti and the rest better watch out for those mind games.

You've got to feel a bit sorry for Mancio. I know I had my reservations about his coaching abilities but delivering three titles in a row (by a roundabout means) is no mean achievement. Mind you, just ask Gordon Strachan if that is enough to buy you love.

The clear statement of intent with the Mourinho appointment, however, is a move for the Champions League. While Inter have dominated at home, they have failed to produce the goods in Europe. If there is one thing the Nerazzurri will hope he can address, it is that failing.

However, we would do well to remember that with an even greater budget at Chelsea he was unable to deliver that prize. Nonetheless, he retains a reputation - perpetuated largely by himself - as one of the biggest managerial names in the world. If he can deliver a Champions League to Inter then few could argue with is quality. It has only been 40 years or so since they last won one, after all.

* On a sad note, I see Riccardo Montolivo has been left out of the Italy 23 for the European Nations. As a Viola man, I am upset and hoped he could have squeezed out Roma's Alberto Aquilani. Still, Forza Azzurri.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

See you in the Champions

It would never have been the Viola way to do things simply, so instead they made me sweat until 15 minutes from time. They should have been about five goals ahead of Torino by half-time but Matteo Sereni kept getting in the way.

When we heard Milan were losing, of course, we relaxed a bit but when they swept past Udinese there was an air of panic. Yes, Toro were hardly killing themselves to beat us but the ball would not find its way into the net.

It was going to take something special and, in the end, Pablo Osvaldo (right) delivered exactly that. A spectacular overhead kick which put us into fourth spot. Having had the Champions League snatched away previously, it tastes all the sweeter this time around.

I hope, however, we have learned the lessons that both Serie A and Europe have taught us this term. Too often we have either failed to get ahead of teams or failed to kill them off. We need a bit more killer instinct if we are to survive at this higher level.

Still, there is next season to think of those matters. The summer beckons and Euro 2008. There really is no rest for the Italian football fan.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm back

Life is never dull following Fiorentina in particular and Italian football in general. After the UEFA semi-final, I felt drained of all supporting emotion for quite a while. Ten days or so, however, and they caught me once again.

I felt a sickening thud when Parma scored in Florence as if the wheels were coming off the whole season. Not only were we going to miss out on the UEFA Cup final but we were going to throw away our shot at a Champions League spot. All that good work wasted.

But then a cheer went up from the Fiesole. Napoli had taken the lead against Milan. Suddenly, if we got a grip, fourth place was still possible. I leapt from my resignation and acceptance of defeat as the men in purple surged forward for one last heroic effort. Wee Mario Santana - one of our most frustrating players this season - grabbed an equaliser. It was game on.

When word got round that Napoli had gone two clear my living room and the Stadio Franchi went bananas. I like to think that I was able to send my vibes across the miles to the stadium. Now was the time to go for the kill.

Once again it was a player who has annoyed me as much as pleased me this season - Franco Semioli - who found the net. This time from a lovely cross by Martin Jorgensen. Then Osvaldo put the icing on the cake to finish proceedings.

Surely football could not be so cruel as to let already-safe Torino do anything other than let us triumph next Sunday? At least let this fine purple season end with a Champions League place. If that happens we owe a big thank-you to Napoli for putting one over on their old rivals Milan when they had nothing to really fight for.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A blog in mourning

I may not be able to write about football for some time...