Walter Mazzarri wasn’t chewing on a water bottle this time, but his bite was just as bad. At the start of the season, the illustrious Granata looked like they had started to begin a transition from historic and loved members of Serie A, to serious and consistent top six contenders. They have the fan base, the iconic prestige and this season, most thought, a special team.
Fast forward a few months and what do we see? A coach lambasting his team as they are in freefall, the media haranguing the ‘mister’ and a President fanatically backing his tactician. Did anyone mention the Derby Della Mole is tonight?
The hope was there before the campaign kicked off. Andrea Belotti was still at the club and, on paper, the team looked like it could compete. Despite an early Europa League exit to Wolves, there was still positivity in Turin, so when they recorded an opening day win against Sassuolo and then impressively overturned a strong Atalanta, many thought that the Granata would perhaps be able to fight for a European position again.
Since then however, the team has gone into freefall. Mazzarri’s men have lost five, drawn twice and beaten Milan (an achievement that considering the Rossoneri’s form, was not huge).
Lazio destroyed Torino 4-0 in Rome in their last outing, it was a game that highlighted their defensive frailties, lack of creativity, their blunted offence and what is more, the total lack of confidence. Even Simone Inzaghi quipped after the game that he expected a tougher task when facing Toro. With the Derby Della Mole on the horizon, drastic action has been taken. The team are in ritiro and the Turin papers played on the time of year claiming this could be the ‘Derby of Nightmares’ for them.
Despite all the extra training, it seems it would take a miracle to turn things around at the club. Perhaps a win in the Derby could be a springboard, but the rot seems to go deeper. To anyone looking in, it looks as though Mazzarri has lost the dressing room and this was clear before the team played Cagliari, when the coach hit out as his players in bizarre style. He claimed that if any of his men had a problem, then they should tell him face to face, rather than “spreading negativity in the group.” It was clearly a message to some disheartened or even revolutionary players.
The coach went on to hint that in January he may be trying to get rid of some personnel and was very direct about the issues. There is obviously a group who are not getting game time and are causing him issues. Mazzarri claimed that the Europa League exit meant that he had too many players in the squad and this was the root of the problem.
Despite all of this, it seems that he has the backing of President Urbano Cairo, who said that Mazzarri’s future was not up for debate.
The coach and President seem aligned, but it is some way to January yet. There is also no evidence that this team is playing for the coach and the counter argument is, that if Mazzarri has such a big squad, all of whom want to play, how has he not managed to create a competitive environment that sees his men wanting to fight for their place in the team?
The Derby could be a disaster, but it is a chance to regain some pride. The question is, would this be too little, too late?