Welcome back to the Filadelphia, where you find players and coaches from the first team down into the youth teams of Torino Football club. Across the three squads that are available in Football Manager we employ the heavy metal tactic that is the WM formation. (Spoken very heavily in previous posts).
This post will update you of the transfer activity during the summer of 2025, it will very briefly brush over the preseason schedule that has been endured and will describe the highlights and low lights of the first team’s schedule so far…. I will also try to open debate over a topic that has risen during this season within my save.
First up…. A little round up of the transfer activity that has surrounded Torino during the summer of 2025.
The major outgoing transfer was the disillusioned Thomas Di Lauro who left the Granata to join Maurizio Sarri’s Manchester City for £42.5m.
We also saw Wolves acquire both Adli and Laurenzi for a combined £10.65m.
The major incoming transfers were the permanent acquisitions of Taddei, Falco and Ganso after their season long loans last season. And after the ongoing saga of Di Lauro wanting out. Gianluca Petrachi was sent to Argentina to sign a player the club had scouted during the last twelve months. After landing in Buenos Aires, Petrachi was sent to speak with River Plate and bring back midfielder Federico Silva. Petrachi handed over £16m and brought the youngster back to Torino. (I am hoping Silva will be a perfect replacement for Di Lauro, but looking at the players strengths, he may be a positional replacement for Barella, as I see Silva being as strong as a Mezzala as he is an Attacking Playmaker).
We also signed French right winger Antonio Lucerelli from Atalanta. Again, DOF, Petrachi would do the deal to sign the next Davide Ginola for £9m upfront rising to £11m. I am hoping Lucarelli will be a similar player in Vannini albeit for down the right rather than the left, as he appears to be a natural inside forward as well as a natural winger. This suits the tactics we employ as we like to see our wingers use their own ability to work out what is best on field whether that be to cut in or to drive out wide.
Stepping away from the heady business of moving footballers around like cattle or sheep at a market looking for a new farm…. And moving to the performances and result on the pitch.
Preseason on the pitch was primarily about raising the club profile and that involved a tour of the US AAAA! *cue Living in America – James Brown.
The results were mixed due to two factors. It was preseason and the players were not as fit as the tactic demands. And the players used were not always the key first team players that usually play, so less cohesion of normal playing combinations, would have also led to disjointed performances.
Another thing I noticed, but only just now is whoever booked the friendlies (my assistant) didn’t take in the logistics of things. We played LAFC then jetted over to play FC Dallas. Then back to California to play against San Jose. To then jet set over to the east to play Atlanta United.
The journey back then involved landing in the Netherlands to play Sparta of Rotterdam (*cue Rotterdam (or Anywhere) – The Beautiful South).
We then finally headed back to Turin to play Real Madrid. Real are obviously on of the benchmark teams. And Eusebio Di Francesco, who has been Real Manager since 2023, brought his Galaticos of Matthijs de Ligt, Raphael Varane, Kai Havertz, Rodrygo Goes, Christian Pavon and new gen Rade Drndarevic (who looks like a Serbian Zlatan Ibrahimovic on growth steroids). Needless to say, this looked like it would be a stiff test.
However, we plumped for a mix of second-string players and youngsters to feature in this fixture in a bid to not over burden the first team with the immanent European Super Cup fixture against Champions League winners……. Real Madrid. The aim of this idea was to not give Real a heads up of how we would line up against them in the important fixture and to give a few promising youngsters the chance to impress against better opposition.
The strength of Real’s quality showed from the off. And they had drawn a two-goal lead within 30 minutes. Drndarevic bulldozing his way through the Il Toro defence with ease in the 10th minute to score the opener and Rodrygo scoring with a wonder shot from outside the area 20 minutes later. We eventually showed some metal when Dell’Anna scored with a thunderous shot on the stroke of half time. The second half was very disjointed with both sides making numerous changes to the lineups. We lost 2-1 in a match that provided lost of food for thought.
Seven days later both teams were at it again. This time with a little more at stake. The Helsingin OlimpiaStadion would host the 2025 European Super Cup. The two teams lined up with their strongest teams available. In our case we were short of a quality right back after De Leonardis had been injured since the opening fixture of preseason. Zandolini and youth starlet Caligara were not at the level to cope against the quality of teams like Real Madrid. Or were they? Short and only answer to this is no. No, they are/were not. Zandolini had an awful game as I chose his slight experience over the younger Caligara. I wish I had gone with my instinct as Caligara did come on in the second half to have a much better performance. Zandolini made the mistake that left space for Rodrygo to score the opening goal in the 17th minute. We then exchanged chances throughout the first half which left the Finnish crowd wanting more. The second half started and with the boys pumped with fighting words to stimulate passion. Within seconds of kicking of new signing Argentine Federico Silva then stuck a two footed challenge on Matteo Kovacic right under the nose of the referee. This was a straight red. And this left Il Toro with a mountain to climb. I made the snap decision to put Nico Barella on for left winger David Taddei. The lopsided nature of our revised formation would mean captain Santiago Mina would be more exposed due to no cover directly in front of him. To be fair Real did not expose us at all. However, they did manage to score a second in the 71st minute through a passage of play that put my belief to bed when a cross field ball found Pavon on the right wing for him to cross the ball into the box on a plate for man giant Drndarevic to head home Real’s second. With the bit between our teeth we then sort about reducing the deficit. Nico Barella hit a speculative shot for the ball to strike De Ligt and go past the hapless Courtious on the 75th minute. With that hope we started to turn the screw and at one point I thought we were going to through the whole kitchen at Real rather than just the sink! But like may FM gamers will know, when the chips are down the pieces don’t quite work and the result just somehow passes you by. Real won 2-1 for a second week in a row. Silva was given a roasting and a fine of a week’s wages. (He won’t be doing that again in a hurry!)
With the stutter to our 2025/26 campaign I then sort to plug a few gaps. Hence why we have loaned in Bellanova, a right back who had only been in Germany for the previous season. The former Milan youngster will not just provide cover for De Leonardis but I think he will also provide the needed competition for the shirt. The issue at this position is due to Diogo Dalot’s decision to want more money for having a decent season in the last campaign. I refused as I felt he needed to provide more consistency this season to warrant the wage increase. Dalot was not happy with my actions and caused a stir in the dressing room. I fought the fire in the dressing room by addressing the squad and said that Diogo needed to prove he was worth the wage increase he wanted rather than having a hissy fit. The squad backed my words, and Diogo then went in a proper grump. So, I felt a move out would help the lad. He is now on loan at AC Milan for the season. The other plug was the loan in from AC Milan. Alessandro Plizzari. A goalkeeper who has bags of potential even at the ripe age of 25. The idea behind this move was to give first choice Pasotti a good back up after Fruchtl had decided he wanted first team football. Fruchtl is now on loan at Young Boys in Switzerland for the season.
The first game of the new Serie A season would see Torino parade the trophy at the Olimpico Grande Torino. The opener was against Frosinone. Once the Trophy had been placed on its stand, the players had lined up in a row on the pitch, the national anthem played. The referee’s whistle blew and the pressure of being champions was now on.
Pressure! What Pressure? Dell’Anna would open the scoring after 7 minutes. He scored a well hit penalty after being fouled in the box. Van Den Engel scored the second on the 40th minute. And Dell’Anna, Silvestri and Ganso would all score in the second half to see for a comprehensive 5-0 win.
Match day two would see Il Toro drop points after struggling to get going against a stubborn Udinese. The match would end 0-0. Match day three would round August off and it would see another 5-0 victory for the Granata. Midfield Veteran Daniele Baselli would steal the headlines by scoring a brace, Dell’Anna, Vannini and Van den Engel would also contribute to the scoreline.
Van den Engel’s goal would also show a highlight in what became a change in tactic due to fearing second yellow cards to the fullbacks. We switched to a back two with three in DM as a little experiment. Van Den Engel’s goal would show great patience within the team, along with fantastic build up to score a brilliant team goal.
There was then the international break in early September which would mean we would cram five fixtures into fifteen days. Serie A match day four would see a plucky Carpi visit the Olimpico Grande Torino. I would make not just wholesale changes to the line-up but also a slight tweak to the formation. In adopting three centre backs in the defence rather than playing with fullbacks and one centreback. Dell’Anna and Van Den Engel would both score to forge a 2-0 lead in the opening twenty minutes. The experiment felt like it was a success. But hang on a minute this is FM. FM doesn’t let you have all your own way! Leandro Fernandes scored for the visitors on 32 minutes, to give use something to think about for halftime. Without making drastic changes we went into the second half with an expectation to see off the game. Van Den Engel and Dell’Anna would do just that by both scoring midway through the half. But then Il Toro took their foot of the pedal and the momentum swung. Carpi scored in the 70th minute through an Alessandrini goal, which saw a wide eyed Alessandrini capitalise on a Romagna mistake. The heightened the Carpi side’s confidence, as they then scored another through Elia Petrelli on the 84th minute to cause a lot of panic on the Granata bench. We swiftly swapped the tactic back to the normal two full backs and one centre back combination an saw out the game to record a 4-3 victory.
Our next match would see us enter Europe again. We were drawn into group F in the European Champions League with Celtic (who had finished second to Rangers last season), Bayer Leverkusen (who had finished third in the Bundesliga behind Bayern and Dortmund respectively) and West Ham Utd (who had finished second in the Premier League behind Manchester United). The first match was a home match against Celtic. We dominated the match but missed our first clear cut chance when Dell’Anna missed a penalty in the 24th minute. Left winger Alessio Vannini would break the duck by slotting home in the 36th minute. To then double our lead five minutes later. Van den Engel would score on the 54th minute to cement our lead for Ganso to hit a wonderful freekick in the 60th minute to seal a 4-0 victory.
Match day five and six in Serie A would see two successive 3-1 wins for Il Toro. The first a comfortable home win against Fiorentina, the second was a comfortable away match against Bologna.
The last match of the month was the Champions League group match against West Ham Utd in London. Another return to my former team. This match was dubbed a grudge match in the media due to Torino beating West Ham last season in the Europa League quarter finals. A packed London Stadium would see a battling match between two similarly matched teams. Torino were without star forward Massimo Dell’Anna due to a stubbing a toe whilst getting out of the showers at the Filadelphia. We went with Davide Benazzi as his replacement and the 17 yr old did not disappoint. He scored the opening goal through some wonderful individual play to create some space for himself. West Ham did equalise less than 10 minutes later through Polish striker Daniel Tabiszewski. The match would end 1-1.
October would then start with a Battle Royale at the summit of Serie against Inter. Inter went into this match in hot form, they had won every match in Serie A so far. To add more to Inter’s favour the match is at the Giuseppe Meazza.
We started the match unusually cautious. And this gave Inter confidence from the Kick-off. This confidence led to Argentine striker Diego Charmorro to open the scoring through a goal on the break. Milan Skriniar then doubled Inter’s lead in the 28th minute with a close-range header from a corner.
2-0 down in under 30 minutes. This suddenly felt like we had not quite got things right for this match and that changes were required to prevent a landslide. The only change I make is to the mentality. We switched from cautious to balanced. And within 10 minutes we claw a goal back through star man Dell’Anna. Half time gave me time to read the riot act to some and put an arm around others along with swapping Nico Barella for veteran Baselli. Barella had got himself very wound up during the first 45 mins. I figured we needed a full XI to get anything out of this match. But like all big matches with a lot of hype the second half became a damp squib. Each team drawing foul after foul to take any momentum out of the match. Inter would take the spoils and cement a lead at the top of the table. Torino were left with more line up questions of whether such a young squad could cope with the pressure of retaining the scudetto.
The next match would be after the international break. Which would bring Lazio to the Olimpico Grande Torino. The result was just what we need to shake of the malaise of losing to Inter. We won 3-0 in a very convincing performance from the whole team.
Champions League Match day three saw Il Toro travel to Leverkusen. This match would see FM’s Match Engine come to the fore. The result was 2-2 in a match that somehow, we drew. I say that the Match Engine came to the fore and the reason behind this is that Leverkusen would score both of their goals immediately after we had scored ours. After seeing this happened in the after the first goal, I ensured I got a side-line shout out demanding focus. And low and behold the same thing happened after our second goal.
Match day nine and ten in Serie A would see a tight and typically Italian 0-0 draw against Milan and then a 2-0 win against Chievo. The low light and highlight to both matches were the injury to summer signing Rico Silva, with the emergence of Gianmarco Riitano and Federico Donati. The former had been bought from Lazio in the summer of 2024 and had been given odd chances to gain first team experience. The latter was also from the Under 18’s and was someone who I had given first team game time during preseason.
November started with a bang. The opening fixture of the month was Serie A’s matchday 11 a home match against struggling Lecce. I chose to rest key players and I also looked to give some of the club’s young players a game. In came central defender Massimo Mancino, Defensive midfielder Filippo Lanave and midfield dynamo Federico Donati. The latter was given his starting debut. In the 8th minute Il Toro were rewarded for the faith. When Donati scored his first goal for the club, a turn and first time shot just near the penalty spot. Right winger Michael Mensah then doubled our lead in the 36th minute. And four minutes later Donati found himself around the penalty spot again. A cross by right fullback De Leonardis was put on a plate for Donati to claim his second of the match. The second half became an exhibition match where Il Toro’s youngsters were taking pot shots at the Lecce goal but this time with little reward. In the 76th minute Lecce would score with their only shot on target during the match through left winger Sebastiano Esposito. 12 minutes later Torino were awarded a penalty due to a push in Santiago Mina during a corner. Debutant Donati was given the kick in a bid to give the boy his hattrick. He coolly slotted the ball into the back of the net to make the score 4-1. Then in the dying embers of the match Donati was given another opportunity. This time he received the ball of fellow youngster Pacilli and decided to just thunder a strike at goal from 30 yards out! GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Wow! Four goals from the boy on his starting debut for the club. We won 5-1.
I was left in a buoyant mood over the future of the club after seeing a few youngsters shine for the first team.
Next was Champions League match day four. The home match against Leverkusen. I went back to the key members of the squad starting over the kids, but I did reward Mensah and Donati starting places after such great performances against Lecce. We wrapped up the match in the opening 10 minutes. Dell’Anna scored a brace inside the first 5 minutes. And 5 minutes later wonder boy Donati would hit a strong shot from just inside the penalty area that would prove too hot to hand for the Leverkusen keeper. The second half would see Nico Barella extend our lead in the 50th minute. And two minutes later Leverkusen didn’t help their cause by scoring an own goal. We went on to see out the match and win 5-0.
Serie A match day 12 and 13 saw Il Toro drop more points to Inter through a 1-1 draw against Sampdoria and somehow squeeze past potential banana skin Cagliari in a 1-0 home win.
Our last match of the month saw us travel to Celtic park to play Celtic. The atmosphere was electric which may have led to the slow start. Michele Allegra opened the scoring of Il Toro in the 28th minute. In the 40th minute Celtic would find themselves a man down due to reckless challenge by Matias Vecino on Allegra. But it was the Scots that found themselves buoyed by their deficit. When just after the break winger Lewis Morgan hit a speculative shot at goal to see the ball float past Pasotti. Torino would then put the bit between their teeth and start carving chance after chance. Lucerelli then scored in the 64th minute and Van den Engel would extend Il Toro’s lead. The match ended 3-1. The win would put Torino top of the group and see them qualify for the 1st knock out round with one match left to play in the group stage.
Rather than heading into December to evenly round the progress off I will leave the results update right there. We are currently third in Serie A six points behind leaders Inter albeit with a game in hand. Top of group F in the Champions League with qualification to the next round in the bag. And the Copa Italia is yet to see us start.
I would like to leave this post with the query, Is 17 yrs old too young to place significant responsibility upon a player? Join me next time to find out whether Donati can shine like a diamond or whether the rather old looking 21 yr old Rico Silva can up his game to make the Mezzala role his own!
Arrivederci for now!