Over a week ago on the Forza Italian Football website, writer Marco Jackson talked about Torino’s “quiet revolution”. Valid points were made on Jackson’s part but Torino can be so much more. The granata must stop living in Juventus’ shadow as well as Il Grande Torino’s.
Urbano Cairo’s current Torino side is arguably the best squad assembled in the eight years of his presidency. Angelo Ogbonna is an emerging centre-back, Alessio Cerci has been excellent on the right-wing and Rolando Bianchi has been leading the attack and leading the team by example.
Coach Giampiero Ventura deserves a lot of credit too. The granata gained promotion from Serie B to Serie A in his first season and building the team around players he coached a Bari in 2009-10, when the Pugliese side had just been promoted from Serie B and finished 10th.
Ventura has found the right combinations since taking over, mixing “his boys” with the current squad as well as some quality additions. He has done a better job than any of the coaches in Toro’s previous stint, who were carried by the mercurial Alessandro Rosina.
Cairo has kept Torino financial afloat since becoming the club president but he lacks ambition. The “other” team in Turin is not as good as the team that won its first title in 1927-28 or the force it was when it dominated the Serie A in the 1940s.
After Valentino Mazzola and his teammates perished at Superga all those years ago, there hasn’t been much to cheer about. Toro won its last scudetto in 1975-76 with Francesco Graziani and Paolo Pulici in attack and reached its only European cup final in 1992, losing the UEFA Cup Final to Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam on away goals.
Juve has won many more trophies and possessed plenty of iconic attacking players to cheer on and talk about. The bianconeri had Giampiero Boniperti in their squad when the granata dominated calcio. In the post-Superga era, Toro can’t claim to have stars like Omar Sivori, Roberto Bettega, Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero just to name a few.
After Superga, the granata have had their share of “what ifs” too. Enigmatic winger Luigi Meroni was run over and killed in 1967 and another winger Gianluigi Lentini was sold to Milan in a world record transfer in 1992, only to have a near-fatal car crash and return a lesser player. Rosina also hasn’t lived up to his potential since leaving Toro. If only these players had more luck or Toro could keep them.
The general consensus among granata fans is: “A man who doesn’t understand Superga can never understand Torino.” Unfortunately over 60 years on, both the club and its fans live in its shadows. Former Toro president Franco Cimminelli once said: “Those Torino supporters should stop crying about Superga.” As controversial as those comments were, there is some validity in his comments.
Il Grande Torino is rated as one of the greatest sides calcio has ever witnessed but remembering them is not enough. Torino’s fans and players should be inspired by their example. They must not think that they are not worthy of those who perished in 1949. The goal must be to emulate them.
Juventus mourned when some of its fans died at Heysel in 1985. Likewise when Juve youth team players Alessio Ferramosca and Riccardo Neri drowned in 2006. Before and after those tragedies, the bianconeri fans had great teams to support. Their memory lives on but Juve is still a force to be reckoned with.
You may wonder why I would compare the deaths of fans and youth players to the passing of superstars. Juventus has stayed strong in the present and planned for the future as opposed to Torino, who have been dictated to their past.
The “quiet revolution” is a good plan in the short term. For the Toro faithful, as well as neutrals or if you are cynical, the anti-Juve, the club needs to maintain its current stars and aim to buy better players.
Torino is known to have more fans in Turin than Juventus. They have seen their rivals produce one great side after another, leaving its mark on the Serie A and on European competitions. Il Grande Torino once made up the majority of the Italian squad yet Juve can claim to have players making vital contributions to Italy’s World Cup wins. I’m sure Toro fans are sick of seeing those sights.
Torino needs to make progress. Whether Cairo is the president to build a team capable of winning Toro’s eighth scudetto is anyone’s guess but the granata must step out of the dark and not enjoy the silence. Whether you are a Torino fan, a football romantic who admires the feats of Il Grande Torino or an anti-Juve, calcio is crying out for another great squad from the other side of Turin.
Time to make some noise!