Hello and welcome back. Sorry about the rapid jump forward but this game at times can be very absorbing. I am sure we all have those moments in a save where we play “that” extra match or hour just because we are wrapped up in our own only little story.
I joined Torino on 29/01/2024 I have now jumped to 11/06/2024. If you have read my previous Torino Posts you will know that I left West Ham 5th in the EPL and joined Torino who were 4th in Serie A. Simone Inzaghi had left to join Watford, which is why the Torino job became available. I decided to apply for the Torino job because I had applied for the vacant Torino job earlier in my save when I had less of a reputation. I had been left with positive feedback, and had kept an eye on Torino from that moment.
My previous posts have discussed the history of Torino, all the way back to Grande Torino days. My other posts have discussed trying to implement the WM formation of Il Grande Torino in to FM19.
This post will wrap up the last five and a bit months of the 2023/24 season. From highlighting our results in Serie A, along with some summary of how the WM has faired in that time.
My final game at West ham (26/01/2019) was a home win against Burnley. My West Ham side won 1-0 courtesy of a Jon Davies penalty which had been converted in the 7th minute. The heavens opened and the dark clouds loomed and despite the victory the lack lustre performance compounded my decision to move to Italy.
On the 27th I was in Turin to watch Il Toro vs the Viola of Fiorenze (Fiorentina). Like the match I had managed the day before this would also be a match to forget. Torino won 2-1 but the general performance was missing something. That or the distraction of me being in the crowd my have dominated the headlines.
My first task was to talk about romance. With the help of my new Assistant Manager Giacomo Murelli, who had decided to stay following Inzaghi’s departure, I set about discussing my dream to the players and staff. I told them how i had been inspired by the history of Torino to join and that I wanted to use history to return the club to winning ways. The WM Formation.
I set about installing my base tactic into both the first team tactics and under 20’s. I also announced that for a while I would look to manage both teams as I wanted to understand the tactic and how it would work. (In my previous post I discussed the first few games for the under 20’s and how the tactic worked). I went on to use the under 20’s as my laboratory where I would experiment with roles, team instructions and player instruction. This tactic is still by no means a finished article, and I must confess I tinker during matches to try and find solutions. But it does play the way I want. I just need to figure out how to get it working more consistently. I am sure that will come in time.
My first match in charge was at the Renato Dall’Ara, where we would play against home team Bologna. The result was a 1-0 loss, in a disappointing performance that left me and the team frustrated. New boy (Loanee) Matteo Politano, would start the match and play ok. Other new boy Thomas Di Lauro would start from the bench, playing reasonably well after replacing Allegra. And both of the boys used up front Zaza and Balan would disappoint with below par performances and little involvement during the game.
After losing we would slip to 5th in the league. Armed with that bitter taste we set about familiarising the team with the tactic and also tinkering with what had been learned from the under 20’s matches.
My first home match at Olimpico Grande Torino was against Udinese. The notable changes were inclusions of Massimo Dell’Anna, who had been suspended for the Bologna match. And a start for Di Lauro.
We got off to a shaky start. Vizeu scoring for Udinese after only 8 minutes. I then altered the playing mentality slightly from attacking to positive and we noticed a difference. The defence was more defensive and the attack was still attacking. We would spend most of the first half dominating possession and peppering the Udine goal with shots. Then up popped Dell’Anna.
On the stroke of the 43rd minute Politano struck a teasing ball into the box from a deep freekick. Udine captain De Paul then beat everyone to the ball with an interception but his header would fall in to the path of Massimo Dell’Anna. There Dell’Anna hit a powerful shot in to the top left corner of the goal. The uplift in mood was apparent in the changing rooms at halftime. I channelled that energy and told the boys to go back out there and do it for the fans.
Di Lauro put us in the lead with a close range header from a corner on 66 minutes. And Dell’Anna would then score his second on 78 minutes and his third on 88 minutes. The closing few minutes saw the team lose a bit of concentration which allowed Lucas Boye to score in the 94th minute. We won 4-2, and the major positive for me was to see a striker hungry to score goals, and be capable of doing so, something I had missed since Jon Davies moved from TS Sports to West Ham back when I was TS Sports Manager.
Our next match was the big Monday night TV Match on E Sports/ Premier TV or Sky Italia. Roma at the Olimpico Grande Torino. A bumper crowd of 27,717 in the stadium would see us beat Roma 2-1. Not only that but they would witness a wonder goal to match the great George Weah.
Left Winger Alessio Vannini would pick up the ball in his own half and drive past practically the whole of the Roma team and score past Roma’s Lorius Karius. See below.
Our next match would see us play our third home match in succession against Thomas Buchel’s Napoli. This would see us lose 4-3 in an epic for the neutral. Dell’Anna would put us ahead for Barco to equalise. Napoli then went ahead through a rare Rabiot goal. Napoli would then stretch their lead through home grown youngster Lorenzo Pelicci on 41 minutes. Armando Izzo would then claw one back for Il Toro just before half time. Dell’Anna would score a second mid way through the second half. And Marcel Sabitzer would crush Il Toro hearts in the 85th minute with the last goal of the match.
The performance of this match would come up for review between myself and Murelli. I would also turn to the fourth wall and communicate with the oracle (@Cleon81). After analysing the goals conceded. He said I should look to tone the mentality down more. (From positive to balanced) I had already wound it down from Attacking to Positive. I’ll be honest the next run of games did see use win six on the bounce. But I still felt like I had not quite answered the defensive horrors I had been witnessing.
I turned back to my time at TS Sports FC and the tactic I had run during my time there. It was a 4141 DM Wide. I had not suddenly decided I was going to abandon the WM, far from it, I was merely going to look at what alterations I had made to turning it from an ok tactic that could score to the awesome tactic that scored and defended so well. That well that I managed two unbeaten league titles. The first in season 2018/19 (EVO STIK Northern Prem) and my last season with TS Sports 2021/22 ( SkyBET League Two).
The first thing I saw when I wound back the clock was in those two domestic league seasons the team played very well when a consistent team was selected. But I suppose you could also comment and say the competition in those leagues was not as competitive as Serie A or the EPL. So I looked a little more in-depth at the tactic I used, more specifically the TI’s and PI’s that were used. I noticed that I had my wingers and forward closing down more. And that the attacking mentality was mainly adopted. I also noticed that we would mix it up a bit between possession based football and occasionally playing more direct to seal a victory. In-game changes that would allow the team to adapt to the opposition.
Armed with a fountain pen and some paper I made a couple of notes and a few scribbles. I then looked to see if I could make some changes to the tactic I was employing with the under 20’s.
First team fixtures came and we then played Empoli at home. Without going into detail we were out FM’ed. We had 67% possession. Completed 543 passes out of 599 (90%) We had 12 corners to Empoli’s 2. We had 25 shots 10 on target 10 off target and god knows what happened to the other 5! Yet Jordan Ayew some how scored a hattrick against us and they won 3-2.
We would then go and beat Cagliari 2-1. But we would then lose 4-2 to Sampdoria and lose 3-1 away to local rival Juventus. I then looked back at some more TS Sports FC stuff and pondered about how to improve the defensive side of our game.
We then went out and drew against AC Milan 0-0.
So what did I change?
I switched the goal keeper to SK A from SK D but with this I also took away the TI instructions of keeping it short and to the playmaker. What I believe I have done now is given the Sweeper Keeper some freedom to pick where he plays the ball. In the hope that rather than playing safe and deep, he will look to initiate attacks when he can by playing longer balls and giving him the chance to vary his distribution as the game dictates rather than a pre-set instruction.
I also switched one of the full backs to CWB-A from IWB-D. This has given an opportunity for overlaps down one side whilst the other side as the opportunity of underlaps with the IWB now set to support. The idea behind this is to add variety to the attacks along with width in my narrow tactic. This will be an ongoing test as I believe I may end up looking at the full back roles and tweaking with PI’s, but who knows??
Another positional role switch has been the introduction of a playmaker to central midfield in a bid to hold at least one player in the middle of the park tasked to knit the team together, I am yet to find a role to be cast in stone, and so far I have switched between a RPM and an AP(A).
The other key thing I did was go back to my team shape and make sure I was not stretching the team to far apart. I have now made sure that both the line of engagement and defensive line are set to the same level.
Back to the Milan match. The stats will show that we dominated possession, and that we also shot on target more often but the 0-0 result was probably fair. We had eight shots on target and all eight were saved by Donnarumma. We also played much better as a defensive unit. I was particularly impressed with 16 yrs. old centre back Luca Madrigali. Who was handed his full debut against Milan. I have high hopes for Luca, but do not want to push him too far too fast.
Three days later we then played Inter at the Olimpico Grande Torino. We played magnificently from the first whistle. Daniele Baselli scoring after 9 minutes. Tomy Di Lauro then scored 5 minutes later to double our lead. Tomy would go on to score a second and the third goal of the match on the stroke of 76 minutes. We then saw Inter kick into overload mode for the last ten minutes with wave after wave of attacks. Raheem Sterling scoring a consolation goal in the 87th minute. We would see out the match and win 3-1 at home. This result would seal a minimum of fourth place in Serie A.
Our penultimate match of the season was against Lazio away. We won 1-0 in another hard fought battle. In a match that saw us produce six clear-cut chances and only put one away. We also put on a solid defensive display, but most of the thanks should go down to Rui Patricio who save all six of Lazio’s shots on target.
Our final match of the season was away to Atalanta. We would once again show strength in attack and defence. We won 3-0 with goals from Politano, Allegra and Dell’Anna. But the Man of the match was Left Inverted Wingback, Santiago Mina. He did everything whilst playing a very complete performance, he intercepted. Tackled, Headed, passed and even shot on goal.
We would end up finishing third in Serie A. Inter would fall 3-1 to local rivals AC Milan on the final match day thus meaning they would drop to fourth.
The final table shows the gulf in class between Pep Guardiola’s Juventus and the chasing pack. Our aims for the new season will be to first secure a Europa cup place then see where we can finish. I also would like to see an improvement in the number of goals we concede (a reduction). And I would also like to see us beat local rivals Juventus.
Thank you for reading and Ciao for now, as I look to recruit for 2024-25.