Rob Gillman joins us to discuss all things Torino in the latest of our pre-season Q&A series.
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TACTICAL CALCIO: After guiding Torino to promotion from Serie B and establishing them in the top half of Serie A, how much further do you believe Giampiero Ventura can take the club?
ROB GILLMAN: In all honesty there isn’t much more Ventura can do for the club, that isn’t really a negative statement but just the realisation of what an incredible job he has done in his four years in charge at the club. A significant cup run would be great, and perhaps a more realistic route back into Europe given Inter and AC Milan’s re-inforcements this summer.
TC: Ventura tends to get the best out older players, such as Emiliano Moretti, Alessandro Gazzi and Fabio Quagliarella. Is the forthcoming season important for bringing in younger players, and who would you mark out as the prospects to watch?
RG: Torino won the Primavera scudetto last season with Claudio Morra and Simone Rosso being the stars of that team, but I’d imagine both players will be loaned out to Serie B clubs rather than getting an opportunity with the first team. Nikola Maksimovic, Marco Benassi and Josef Martinez have all shown promise in a Torino shirt, and I think they will continue to improve next season.
TC: Torino full-back Matteo Darmian is heavily rumoured to be on the verge of a move to Manchester United. Could you break him down as a player for English football fans?
RG: When Darmian signed for Toro he seemed to be a very old fashioned right-back, sort of a Gary Neville type character who concentrated on defending first. However, after Torino changed to a 3-5-2 formation two seasons ago, he found a new lease of life and became a very attacking wing-back whilst still being reliable defensively. It is very difficult to know a foreign player will adapt to the Premier League, but I think he has all the attributes to do well, and genuinely hope he does.
TC: Darmian was an integral player to Ventura’s 3-5-2 system. Do you see his departure affecting the way the team lines up or the effectiveness of the system?
RG: I’d be amazed to see a change in formation given the success that we have had for the past two seasons, and if we manage to hold on to Bruno Peres (he has been linked with Roma) then he should replace Darmian as the right wing-back with new signing Danilo Avelar on the other flank.
TC: As well as Avelar, Torino have brought in Afriyie Acquah and Joel Obi this summer. How do you rate the Granata’s transfer activity so far? Do you see any more sales or signings being made?
RG: I think we have had a good transfer window so far, with Acquah and Obi adding some much needed youth to a very experienced midfield. If the rumours are true, and we will be spending some of the Matteo Darmian money on Atalanta’s talented duo Daniele Baselli and Davide Zappacosta, then I will be very pleased with our transfer dealings.
I feel we need an established striker to take some of the pressure off Quagliarella and Maxi Lopez, but when you consider last season we replaced Alessio Cerci with Amauri, then this transfer window has already been a success.
TC: What does the 2015-16 season hold for Torino in your opinion?
RG: Our form in the second half of last season was amongst the best in the league, and without the Europa League to contend with another top ten finish is certainly a realistic target. The Coppa Italia may represent our best opportunity to qualify for Europe again, so I would like to see us take that competition seriously.