Life outside the glamour of Serie A is tough. And it is something Torino know all about; fallen giants who have become something of a yo-yo team over the last 20 years.

Forget the “Grande Torino” of the 1940s, the squad that dominated Italian football with players like Valentino Mazzola, Ezio Loik and the incredible goalkeeper Valerio Bacigalupo. That group ruled Serie A for five consecutive seasons and, between 1943 and 1946, were only stopped not by opposing teams, but by the Second World War which halted football in Italy over that period.

It was a great tragedy when that team perished when their plane crashed on Superga, a small hill outside Turin, on a foggy day in 1949. Torino have never really recovered.

Apart from “Il Grande Torino”, the club’s last Serie A title came in 1976, when a side managed by Gigi Radice struggled in an epic battle with arch-rivals Juventus until the very final day of the season. Radice played a version of total football, leaning heavily on Francesco Graziani and Paolo Pulici up front, a pair of forwards nicknamed “I gemelli (the twins) del gol.”

In terms of silverware, Torino’s last was the Coppa Italia, won against Roma in 1993. Again, the Turin side were involved in four thrilling games on their way to the final: First “Il Toro” knocked out bitter rivals Juventus in the semi-final, going through on away goals after drawing 1-1 at home and 2-2 away. In the final, against the Romans, Torino took the capital club apart, scoring three goals without reply. The return followed a different path however, as Roma struck five times. Again though, away goals secured the win, with Torino scoring twice themselves through Andrea Silenzi to take the cup.

The next season, Torino played enjoyed their last campaign in Europe, competing in the Cup Winners Cup, but crashing out to Arsenal in the quarter-final. Since then though, the story has only been one of relegation and humiliation.

Torino last played in Serie A in the 2008/09 season, when they faced yet another relegation down to Serie B after an embarrasing campaign.


Last year, the club worked hard to return to paradise, but it was a season of struggle, changing managers three times. And despite making the playoffs by the season’s end, they found themselves dumped out of the reckoning by Brescia.

In July, president Urbano Cairo tried to assemble a squad that could finally help Torino reclaim their Serie A status, but his every effort has been questioned by the majority of the club’s fans whenever the club play at the Stadio Comunale. The locals have been bored by a side which cannot compete with rivals Juventus and have had little chance of playing regularly in Serie A.

President Cairo has chosen Franco Lerda in the dugout, one of Torino’s most loved players in the 1980s and a man who has enjoyed success with Crotone in Serie B. Lerda though has had a disastrous start to the season, seeing his side lose at home to newly promoted Varese and most recently Frosinone, along with four defeats in five games on the road. Torino now sit anonymously in lower mid-table and Lerda is under serious pressure.

Indeed, the 43-year-old faces a challenge, working as he is with a squad short on talent. It appears Torino have lost the “spirito Toro”, a mixture of pride, combativeness and courage that has always characterised the Granata’s teams.

However, there are some quality players lurking in Torino’s ranks. Goalkeeper Rubinho, who has Serie A experience with Genoa, midfielder Andrea Gasbarroni formerly of Sampdoria, and Rolando Bianchi, a talented, if well travelled, striker who has turned out for Reggina, Lazio, Cagliari and Atalanta in Serie A, along with a short spell in the Premier League with Manchester City.

It is away from home that Lerda appears to face the most serious problem. His team have shown a lack of stamina and look burdened by the weight of expectation. Pressure is building and the coach’s young squad are clearly suffering for it.

At the start of the campaign, Lerda decided to play with a 4-2-3-1 system, but recently away at Livorno, shifted to a 3-4-2-1, with the same unsatisfying result – Torino lost 2-1.

In the meantime, and as a consequence of worsening displays – Torino lost their last home game 2-1 to Frosinone – attendances at the Comunale have plummeted and now the Granata play in front of a mere handful of fans.

If this was not enough to depress committed Torinistas, an emerging regional rival, newly promoted Novara, are sitting on top of Serie B. Novara have a good chance of tasting Serie A football once again after an absence of 55 years.

There may though be reason to hope the future could be about to get a little brighter. Rumours have started to swirl around suggesting that Emirates and the Austrian group Red Bull are both interested in buying Torino. Such a move, and the injection of cash that could bring, would no doubt be welcome. At the moment however, these are only voices in the wind and the reality is a side in complete disarray.