2016-17 review

Serie A Pts P W D L F A
9th 53 38 13 14 11 71 66

Coppa Italia: Round of 16 / Team rating: 5 / Top scorer: Belotti (25) / Europe: N/A

Torino invested heavily in the summer and created plenty of excitement but left the feeling they could have done so much more, writes Peter Fernie.

Kamikaze Toro

Torino meant business going in to the season and put their money where their mouth was to underline that intent. President Urbano Cairo signed fiery Serbian Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and the ex-Milan gaffer promised a hungry, attacking side. In came Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City, Lorenzo De Silvestri, Luca Rossettini, Leandro Castan, Iago Falque, Lucas Boye and Adam Ljajic. Added to the solid foundations left by now Azzurri Coach Giampiero Ventura, the Granata looked equipped to threaten the Europa League places.  

Certainly, Torino are an exciting team and Mihajlovic has looked to take the game to the opposition week after week, often fielding four attacking players. The idea has been to press high and bring their forward players Ljajic, Falque and Belotti in to play quickly. It has worked well in an attacking sense, as Toro have scored 71 times in Serie A. Regrettably, it has come at a high cost, as they have also been breached on 66 occasions.

The winter transfer window attempted to address defensive frailty with the signing of Brazilian centre-half Carlao plus an extra attacking weapon in Juan Manuel Iturbe on loan from Roma. The former was almost always injured, the latter continued his astonishing career slide.

Too often they still lacked balance tactically, the central midfield has too many gaps to cover and the team are too easy to play through. 

They have improved by three places in the table from last season. However, the feeling persists that Torino could have done more with this squad. If they can become more versatile tactically, then the awful defensive record should improve greatly next season. 

The Coach – Sinisa Mihajlovic

Many Torino fans have warmed to his straight talking and passion. A stickler for professionalism, he has lost his temper publicly when standards have dropped. The Serb generally followed the same all-action game plan this season and more tactical variation will be required to progress. At least it’s never dull watching Toro.

Player of the Year - Andrea Belotti

With 26 goals and five assists, the only choice for this award. Strong, mobile and brave, Belotti is a handful for any defence. At 23, Il Gallo has time to improve and is likely to be the target of several big money offers over the close season, although Toro won’t sell for less than his €100m release clause.

Highlight – Torino 3-1 Roma

Toro thrilled their home crowd in Week 6 as they downed the Giallorossi. Balanced and efficient on the day with a solid midfield three, they soaked up Roma’s domination of possession and broke with purpose, as a Belotti strike and Falque brace claimed the spoils.   

Nightmare – Napoli

A wonderfully gifted Napoli side played around Torino at will. Losing 5-3 at the San Paolo was bad enough, but 5-0 at home was humiliating. With the Vesuviani’s excellent trio led by Dries Mertens, Toro’s central midfield duo Daniele Baselli and Marco Benassi were constantly outnumbered and had a thankless task. In simple terms, it was an annihilation.

Did You Know?

- Toro were the most entertaining side to watch in 2016-17, as their games involved a total 137 goals (71 scored and 66 conceded).

- Andrea Belotti is the fifth Italian since 1962 to have scored at least 25 Serie A goals after Beppe Signori, Francesco Totti, Luca Toni and Antonio Di Natale.

- The Granata scored 19 times from set pieces during their Serie A campaign, a massive 29 percent of their total.