The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
We’re sitting in 15th after our first 10 matches, with nine points from two wins, three draws, and five losses. Here’s a quick summary of the Serie A action so far:
After the match—our sixth straight without winning, but our third straight impressive showing in a league where we’re supposed to be foam underpadding for the carpet—some insane Pro Vercelli fans actually criticized my tactics.
“Did you like it back in Serie C2?” I asked in the supporters’ newsletter. “Did you enjoy those times? Do you want to build a special train that will take you through a magical tunnel back to an age when you were sweating out games against Rodengo? Then why don’t you shut it, Giacomo.”
I can only assume that these are bandwagon fans. I have to believe that the ultras have my back.
So there you have it. We’re two points clear of the relegation zone roughly a quarter of the way through the season:
One thing I’ve been surprised by is the physical roughness of Serie A. Our players have been holding their own technically and have often dominated possession against stronger teams on the road (hopefully a testament to our revitalized midfield, with Jefferson Arteaga playing defensive mid behind Sammarco and Rubino), but they’re getting bullied at times. And in addition to Servais (broken jaw, one month), I’ve had to play through spells without Miguel José (hamstring, one month; strained neck, one week), David (hamstring, one month), Jacob Larsen (strained neck, two weeks), Fabrizio Barone (damaged heel—again—two weeks; bruised rib, one week), Landry Akassou (dead leg, one week), and Paolo Galli (gashed upper leg, two weeks).
Hopefully some of this is just a matter of needing to get accustomed to Serie A. There have been games where it felt like all the momentum in the world was pushing us to win, but we just wilted within sight of the crown. I don’t mind that; our average age is still only 21, and we’ll learn to be tough over time. In the meantime, at least our new signings have been successful: Arteaga is Makelelesque in the role of Makelele; Napolitano, our 5’3″ left back, knows when to be a mosquito and when to be a supersonic rocket; and Paolo Galli has three goals in eight appearances, which is pretty fierce considering that he’s only played 15 minutes in most of those.
What’s more worrying is that these first 10 games represent a relatively easy stretch of our schedule, with two of them coming against fellow promoted teams from Serie B. Roma, Juventus, Milan, and Sampdoria await; we’re only one bad draw above the drop, and it’s hard to believe that Napoli (currently in 18th) and Fiorentina (currently in 16th) aren’t going to make a run at some point. The team is teetering on two edges, one of which leads to a huge improvement in our play—we’re so close to getting it right—and the other of which leads to relegation. I just wish I knew which way we were going to tip.
by Brian Phillips · April 4, 2009