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La Vecchia Signora & Y Fonesig Gyntaf

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Palazzo Madama, Turin, April 2018

The birds flocked upwards as the sun beat down on Turin. The Palazzo Madama was awash with activity. Tour groups were making themselves known as they sporadically lost members of the tour, while families and tourists were idling around waiting for various events to begin.

She couldn’t help but feel like she would fit right in with a Dan Brown novel, judging by the way the scene was setting itself.

Nice to see you again,” said Guiseppe Marotta. His voice was easily distinguishable in the noise, one that she had dealt with regularly over the phone.

I found my way,” she replied, smiling and offering her hand, “It’s far easier the second time around.

Guiseppe motioned and she followed, two minutes later finding themselves sat at a small café, ordering a drink. “Everything is set for us to make the announcement. Allegri is leaving at the end of the season to join Paris St Germain, and all transfers are already pre-set so we cannot budge on those now. You know that Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed pre-terms with us over a huge move from Real. You’ll have the best quality to work with.

Whoever may be there when I take over is the hand I'm dealt,” she replied. “It isn’t like I’ll take on some major issues. Getting this chance in itself is a major thing. Although that reminds me, how is the news going to go down relating to me being appointed?

Guiseppe shrugged, “The world is changing, and when one of the best clubs in the world has the chance to hire one of the most talented coaches around, who are we to question whether they are male, female, Italian or from anywhere else in the world?

Football is a male institution, it has taken years to even get women to be paid fair amounts for wages, let alone for one to become a head coach of a superior male club. I know I have been rather lucky in my roles, but they haven’t been in top leagues where the criticism could come in for too much.

The opinions of the time you have spent in charge have varied, yes, but there is the consensus that you have ample talent for tactical coaching. We work hard on developing youth, it was even part of our name originally. So why shouldn’t we also encourage talented managers in the same way?

She shrugged and smiled, with no real response forming in her head. “The world isn’t as progressive as we think it is. No-one is asking for women to be everywhere, only for them to be accepted for where they might end up.

Guiseppe knocked back his coffee and ordered another, “Either way, it is what it is, and if we evolve now, then at least others may too. We will handle all of the media affairs of the club, as usual. The best way you, or anyone else can answer the critics, is by letting the talking occur on the pitch. That is where you will silence them. Win us the Champions League, that'll certainly shut them up.

There was no denying his logic, she knew that. It was just nice to hear it from time to time, to re-assure. She hadn’t exactly enjoyed any major success at the clubs she had managed, but he was right in that, she had shown immense tactical promise at times. And while her media skills also weren’t the best, the chance to work with a media powerhouse behind a club like this would be immense for her.

As Guiseppe finished his drink, he settled the bill with the waiter and smiled. “You know how we feel, you know that we will do everything in our power to protect you from the criticism you, and even we, may face. You are our choice,” he said, before finishing, “Should we expect to see you in June?

A sly grin spread across her face, “Yes you will. I’ll be there.

When Allegri leaves, the only other member of staff he is taking is his assistant Marco Landucci. All the other members of staff at the club are staying. You’ll only need to bring in your own number two, but you can make minor adjustments too. We shall see you in June,” he said, standing up and shaking her hand.

She shook back, “I’ll see you shortly.

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Thank you gentlemen.

Football Italia, April 2018

Juventus today confirmed that Massimiliano Allegri would be leaving the club at the end of the season, with Marco Landucci also reportedly leaving to work with him again at Paris St Germain.

There had been rumours for months that Allegri was being lined up to move to the French capital, but they really caught fire in the previous two weeks with PSG struggling to exert dominance in their fight to win the title despite the swathes of cash having been spent in the summer market.

Juventus would like to go on record to thank Massimiliano for the efforts and success he has brought our club. He has made the players work for the shirt, secured titles in the process, and continued our run as the Italian powerhouse. He will always be welcome back to the club. We will in turn announce our new head coach in the coming months but rest assured, the person we appoint going forward will most certainly be the right person for the job, and one who understands our mentality, our ethos and our brand.

Under Allegri’s three years at the helm, Juventus won three straight titles and three straight Coppa Italia’s, and continued their dominance over the Italian league. Times are getting harder now with teams beginning to close the gap, notably Roma, Inter, AC Milan and Napoli. All of the sides boast the quality needed to become the anti-Juve and break the stranglehold. But it seems Allegri had his head turned with the riches on offer from the club in the French capital, the club a spending force when necessary.

This summer a fair amount of players are expected to leave who have been with the club awhile, prompting calls for a new age of players to come in and take over. With Buffon and Marchisio already known to be leaving, it’ll be interesting to see which players become the next Juventus era. Marchisio has suffered as late in trying to return to top form after sustaining another knee injury and confirmed he would be leaving before the start of next season.


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Interesting idea for a story, and I like the format of your story. Best of luck with Juventus.

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Thank you sir.


“The Twins”, Swansea, May 2018

Chris,” he yelled, “We have a visitor!

Chris popped his head up from above the engine and listened for the response, “So?” he heard his brother yell back. “I’m busy you idiot, you know that.

Ronnie smiled, “You’ll have to forgive Chris, some things haven’t changed in all the years you’ve known us.

She smiled in response, “Still hiding out in the wilderness I see?

Ronnie shrugged and wiped some oil off his hands onto his oil-stained jeans. “You know how it goes. Last I heard you were managing in Scotland?

She nodded, “Yep. I have something new lined up and was wondering…” but before she could finish, Chris had appeared.

Look who it is! Ronnie why didn’t you tell me who was here!

Ronnie frowned, “Chris, I literally told you we have a visitor?


Yeah, you replied? Do you not remember that?

Chris stood thoughtfully for a second, and shrugged, “I don’t remember that to be honest.” He then returned to his engine work.

Ronnie wrapped his arm in hers and began to walk her down to the river edge, “What brings you to see us anyway?

Do you like Italy, Ronnie?

I like pizza, not fond on pasta as it gives me indigestion, and love Pavarotti. I’d say two out of three isn’t bad. Why?

Did someone say pizza?” asked Chris, who had somehow re-emerged from nowhere.

Chris, go away, before I slap you.

As Chris skulked away, he turned back to the river edge, “You were saying about Italy?"

I have a new job. A big job. I can’t make too many alterations to the staff, but I am bringing in my own assistant manager. And I want you both as well.

Ronnie grinned, “We haven’t worked together since Livingston! I’m sure there are better people than us for the job you’re getting.

She shrugged, “There is nobody better than you and Chris. You have an uncanny ability to spot talent, and let’s be honest, no-one even knows you’re scouting most of the time. They just think you are both fans with the way you behave. But you are damn amazing scouts.

Are you going to tell me the club?” pried Ronnie.

She smiled but looked around to make sure no-one was listening. Telling these guys meant nothing - they had no social media presence and fewer friends, “Juventus.

Ronnie almost choked, “Err, come again? I didn’t even know they were hiring.

They are. Trust me Ronnie, I need you both. You’re second to none for judging young players. Juventus are going through a change of the guard, I need the best scouts going.

Ronnie nodded, “You’re going to need to convince Chris. But I’m in.

He can meet Cristiano Ronaldo.

Chris piped up again out of nowhere, “Did you just say Ronaldo?


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Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, May 2018

The final pieces were now merging in to place. With the Twins on board, there was just one position left to fill. And she had the right person in mind for it, and even more so, someone who her Dad had known.

Osian Roberts morphed into view as she rounded the corner inside the stadium. She had scheduled this meeting, but he was so excited to see her. “It’s been so long!” he yelled as she hugged him.

Osian, how many years has it actually been?

Too many, way too many. But I definitely feel like this isn’t a social visit?

She nodded, “I have an opportunity for you.

Osian Roberts, the man often described as the most influential man in Welsh football, is currently the assistant manager for the Welsh national side. When Chris Coleman left in 2017, Osian was interested, but didn’t get the position. He’s still in his position alongside Albert Stuivenberg, under current head coach Ryan Giggs. "Straight to business, just like your Dad."

I’ve got a new job coming up. It’s a big one. But it’s in Italy. I want you as my number two, Osian.

Osian smiled, “Your dad asked me the same thing years ago.

She smiled back, “I remember him telling me the story of how you turned him down. He always said you were the best person he had never worked with.

Your father was an insanely talented manager and he always said if we worked together we would be like Clough and Taylor were. His work with the Welsh national side will always live on for us, and took us a few years to match until Euro 2016.

I was still finishing my PhD in physiotherapy when he told me about the offer he made you. He never gave the reason why you said no.

Osian furrowed his brow slightly, “It just wasn’t the right time for me to move like that. I’ll always regret not having the chance, but it was the right one for me.

This offer I have, it’s big time, Osian. I’ve even managed to convince the Twins to come and work with me.

Wow, last I heard they were working for Swansea a year ago. Didn’t they both retire?

I think they were just spending their time procrastinating. I will email you the offer I’ve got for you, Osian. Take a little time to think it over.

Where is it you are off to? You know you’re destined for bigger and better things than St Mirren, don’t you?

She frowned, “I hope so. This is the biggest opportunity anyone has ever been given when they’re at my level and have the experience I do. Brian Clough comes close, I reckon. I’m off to Turin.

The look on Osian’s face was bordering on incredulous, “Torino or… Juventus? Don’t tell me it’s Juventus.

She grinned, “It is. It hasn’t been announced yet so please keep it to yourself. Think the offer over.

I will,” he said, “But for now, let’s go get a coffee and reminisce.


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Palazzo Madama, Turin, July 16th 2018

She stood there, eagerly awaiting their arrival. This had become her place now, the one place with which she was comfortable in a country she hardly knew yet. The waiter at the café she and Guiseppe had attended now remember her, and she ordered the same thing every time. She slowly sipped the latte, tapping her foot in anticipation. Tomorrow was her first day on the job. She had been in regular contact with Guiseppe and had informed him of the three people she was wanting to bring in.

Sadly, she already knew that she would be the second person in her own family that Osian Roberts had turned down for an assistant manager role. He had contacted her a couple of weeks after they had met, and simply explained that he didn’t want to uproot his family, and travelling to and from Italy was not at all something he found viable. She was extremely disappointed, but he had offered her a lifeline.

He had been in touch with someone who was undergoing training to become an assistant manager, and Osian was adamant that he showed all the qualities he needed to make the grade, especially in Osian’s eyes. She had agreed with Osian that he possessed the necessary qualities after meeting with him.

It was a gamble, but to her, a worthy one. Her appointment was already a gamble, so she might as well have staff she felt comfortable enough with to make this be successful.

The Twins could be heard before she could see them. Chris rounded into view first, holding a coffee and some kind of cake, before Ronnie then appeared. They broke into grins as they came and hugged her. “Nice to see you again sweetheart. How did it go with Osian?” he asked, not aware of the final outcome of her quest.

She shook her head, “He couldn’t make the move, family reasons, stuff like that. Hopefully someone else will be joining us today.

Ronnie smiled. Both he and Chris only had a luggage carry on and that was all. “We travel light,” he said, catching her gaze currently aimed at his baggage. “We have no belongings anyway.

Ronnie took a seat next to her while Chris wandered off to browse the local shops. “I can’t believe this is for real. To work at one of the biggest clubs in the world…

She smiled and nodded, “This for me is my last chance to prove to anyone that my story is worth it. That my story is worth reading, worth listening to. That my story is one to hear, that someone isn't writing it for me, that I'm writing it myself. That I’m capable of something.

That you’re worth the gamble?

She nodded, “That I’m worth the gamble.

Landon Donovan strode into view, spotting her and brushing his way across. “Hi there,” he said.

Nice to see you again. Ready for tomorrow? The first day in the biggest moment of our careers.

Landon smiled and took a seat. “I thought you said there would be four of us?

Both she and Ronnie motioned over to Chris, who had somehow contrived to end up purchasing a small antique globe. “He’s the fourth.

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Allianz Stadium, Turin, July 18th 2018

Tina grinned.

The office was far bigger than anything she had ever imagined. She had grown attached to the one in Paisley, but this just had a grandiose feeling to it that she felt couldn’t be matched. She opened her messenger bag and pulled her laptop out. She already knew that there was one thing that needed sorting.

The club currently had no chief scout in place, and there was interest from within the club from current scouts who wanted to make that step up. Emilio Doveri, 62, was the first one who had left Tina an email, outlining his plans and structure thoughts. The former Milan scout had been with Juventus since 2014, but he was outdone by the other internal applicant. Vittorio Quagliarella, 67, was a veteran of the game, but superior to Emilio in every aspect of scouting and judging of players, both ability and future potential spotting. She would have private chats with both, but Vittorio was the one she wanted to take that mantle.

With that almost sorted instantly, she was happy to not bother with the idea of putting an advert out. Vittorio was the best man for the job and a highly sought-after scout. There was no point in pushing the issue any more.

Sorting out the coaching requirements was something she felt she needed to do soon rather than later also. There were two positions available on the coaching team also, but she had been provided a list already. Former England coach and Tottenham director of football Franco Baldini was top of the coaching list, closely followed by goalkeeping coach extraordinaire Alfredo Magni. Tina hadn’t met either, so that decision would need to be made at a later date.

Landon Donovan was announced earlier in the day, along with Chris and Ronnie, but the appointment of Landon actually caught the imagination of the Juventus fans. The 36-year-old former Los Angeles icon brings a whole wealth of international experience, to go alongside David Trezeguet in the backroom with the experience, but also a youth that the side never really gets to experience in the back room.

His lack of Italian language capability will be an issue for the moment, Tina knew that from the beginning. But he would learn, and he would certainly have to, considering the club agreed to send him on an intensive language learning course, at £500 a week for the next 23 weeks. Tina had started the exact same course, but ten weeks ago, meaning she was half way through now. She enjoyed it in all fairness, and it might become a welcome distraction from the constant media presence she was about to encounter.

Landon knocked on the door and came straight in, taking a seat across from her. “How are you settling? First day in the big office and all that,” he said, the American accent taking away any seriousness as he smiled at her.

Tina smiled back. She wasn’t quite sure on it herself. “It might take a while.

It was a Wednesday, in the middle of July, in the early evening and It was warm. And today was the only day in the week currently when an extra training session would take place. The team had worked earlier on physical before hitting tactical afterwards. The coaches had taken charge of that while Tina settled in. Landon looked raring to go. But she was hesitant. They were replacing this one extra session today with a meet and greet type event.

I’m nervous, Landon,” she said, inadvertently biting her nails. “There are some serious egos and reputations down in those changing rooms.

Landon shrugged, “Regardless of that, they should respect you as their new head coach. You’re in that position because people believe in you.

She nodded and stood up, “Still, Cristiano scares me,” she said, leading Landon out of the office and down to the dressing rooms.




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Allianz Stadium, Turin, July 19th 2018

The second day on the job saw far more occur than her first did, and at one-point Tina was overrun with requests and information. Initial scout reports were coming in, but Tina had to concentrate on sorting out the squad that would be present for the upcoming training camp. It would be her first time together for bonding with the players, something she was looking forward to. The training camp would be taking place from 26th July to the 5th of August, with fixtures against Cittadella and Cuneo in that time frame.

This in itself gave Tina the perfect opportunity during the morning and afternoon training session to get to grips with the players at her disposal. It was a long process, but with Landon assisting her, they worked through the day to get a full list of the first team.

They started with the position that had a massive void to fill with the departure of Gianluigi Buffon. The veteran goalkeeper left in the summer to join Paris St Germain to see out the twilight of his career. Wojciech Szczesny (GK, 28, POL) was the current favourite at the club, the former Arsenal stopper spent two seasons with Roma before his switch to Turin, and made seventeen appearances last season despite Buffon still being with the club. The next choice was Mattia Perin (GK, 25, ITA), a new acquisition with a decent track record in the Serie A with Cagliari before his £10.75m transfer.  He has the quality to succeed, but Tina couldn’t figure out who between him and Wojciech was the more viable option. Was sharing the sticks even an option? The third choice and back-up keeper is Carlo Pinsoglio (GK, 28, ITA), who himself had been in and out of the stadium doors for years since breaking through the academy here.

When moving on to the right backs, there was yet another sense of a new position with potential new favourites. In the summer the club forked out £33m for full back and winger Joao Cancelo (D/WB/M/AMR, 24, POR) with the expectation that he steps up and stakes a major claim for the position. Joao enjoyed a decent loan season with Inter just last year, so big things are expected of him. With Tina intending to be progressive, she knew she would need to improve her tactical approach in Italy, and that included the introduction of attacking wing backs. And thankfully, her option for right back included one of the best. Juan Cuadrado (D/WB/M/AMR, 30, COL) almost certainly had the chance to be the permanent full back if he went in to the season guns blazing. The two of them had back-up in the form of recently acquired Lorenzo Del Prete (D/WBR, 32, ITA), the full back having gone through ten clubs since leaving the Juventus academy in 2006. How much he features is unknown, but either way, he’s a fairly solid substitute option who can potentially cover centre back too.

Tina and Landon moved on to left back, which provided two options and a first team cover option. Alex Sandro (D/WB/ML, 27, BRA) was by large and far the player who made this position his own, and would be entering his fourth season with the club in Tina’s first. He possesses absolutely super quality and is consistently courted by European clubs, something that if the right offer comes in, surely a deal would be in the question, at least in Tina’s eyes that’s how it looks. He is still valued currently at over £60m. She was curious to see how that one played out. His rival for the position is Leonardo Spinazzola (D/WB/ML, 25, ITA), who has never left Juventus but has spent the last six seasons out on loan, and is determined to try and break the first team. With five Italian caps to his name, some feel this is his last chance to prove himself to the club.  Both the left back and right back position had a dual-cover player, Mattia De Sciglio (D/WBR/L, 25, ITA) having joined just over a year ago from Milan, but is currently ruled out with injury for around seven weeks.

So that in turn left only the centre backs to cover. Italy is a nation proud for the defenders it produces, and this Juventus team possesses three centre backs of insane quality and experience. It would be wrong for Tina to have looked at anyone other than Giorgio Chiellini (DL/C, 33, ITA) first, the Juventus stalwart entering what would be his fourteenth year at the club. Alongside him this year is the recently returned Leonardo Bonucci (DC, 31, ITA), who re-joined the club in what was effectively a swap-deal that saw Mattia Caldara go the other way. Bonucci is still the professional defender, and one of his only two goals for Milan was against Juventus. The third Italian out of four was the now aged but vastly experienced Andrea Barzagli (DR/C, 37, ITA) who despite his age, still possesses great quality. And as Tina and the whole world knows, defenders age like a fine wine in Italy, and its worth noting that for the just under ten years of service Juventus have received from Barzagli, he only cost a measly £250k originally. Rounding out the Italian defence is Daniele Rugani (DC, 23, ITA). Rugani hasn’t been ever present but at 23, he still has plenty of time to cement a place in the Juventus side, and he has the quality to do so. The final consistent centre back option is Mehdi Benatia (DC, 31, MAR), but Landon wasn’t sure about how much Benatia would feature. With the centre backs likely to come in a formation of three, Tina may need one more, but there isn’t the overwhelming sense that Benatia is the man for that job, nor how much he would be happy being the odd man out in the situation. Nothing was cemented, he had more than enough time to make her see why. His value seems to be higher than when he joined for £12.25m so maybe cashing in is better now than later, or never.


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Allianz Stadium, Turin, July 19th 2018

As they moved on to midfielders, Tina felt a pang of sadness that she wouldn’t get to work with Andrea Pirlo. The former Juventus midfielder is now retired from the game completely, but to have only just missed out on being his manager sucked slightly. First on the list of central midfielders was Emre Can (DC/DM/MC, 24, GER), a free signing in the summer from Liverpool. Can has great quality and performed very well in the Premiership before his move. His ability to fill in at centre back may also come in handy, Tina noted. Completing the German contingent was Sami Khedira (DM/MC, 31, GER) who has continued to perform well since his free move from Real Madrid in 2015. His goal scoring ratio in the league last season was fairly decent for his position and style of play, though Tina was genuinely not expecting the same kind of return this season. Next on the list was playmaker extraordinaire Miralem Pjanic (DM/M/AMC, 28, BIH), who has made the position all his own in his first two season with the club. It is widely expected that Ronaldo would take over freekick duties, but Pjanic is superb also and deserves a fair shot at keeping them in his attacking war chest. Landon seemed very excited to be working with a player of Pjanic’s quality and style. Up next was relative newbie and youngster Rodrigo Bentancur (DM/MC, 21, URU). The youngster signed from Boca last season and made a tentative start to his Juventus career, but still managed to rack up twenty league appearances. Blaise Matuidi (DM/MC, 31, FRA) handled his first season in Italy really well since his £17.5m move from Paris St Germain. The work rate on this guy was an important feature of his game and he will be important again this year. “That is a solid set of five central midfielders,” Tina said to Landon. He nodded in agreement.

When it came to attacking midfielders that could double up as wingers and strikers also, there was a rather rag tag list. They didn’t really classify as any of those positions specifically but could play most of them. First up was Douglas Costa (AMR/L, 27, BRA) who became a permanent Juventus player after a £32.5m move following a successful season-long loan with the club from Bayern. The former Shakhtar man definitely needs to step his game up as at 27 he hasn’t really cemented himself as the player he could be. Tina knew she would need to try and pull that out of him. Federico Bernardeschi (AMR/L/C, 24, ITA) was one who could play across all of the attacking midfield positions, and enjoyed a good introduction to life with Juventus last season, and now needs to push everyone here for a constant starting position. He definitely has the talent and the technical ability to do so, evidenced by his Italian caps. Last on this list is the eponymous Cristiano Ronaldo (AMR/L/ST, 33, POR). There wasn’t much that needed to be said about him. Mr Global himself made his move, at a paltry sum of £94m after nine years in Madrid. Last but not least is Paulo Dybala (AMC/ST, 24, ARG). Having featured only miserly for Argentina in the World Cup, Landon is certain that Paulo is coming back with a point to prove.

As the pair came to a close with the strikers, they enjoyed one further coffee, taking their tally to five for the afternoon. “I cannot believe how much talent there is here. You see it on the television and read about it, but to work with players you know have cost insane amounts is mad,” said Tina.

Landon laughed, “I don’t think it’ll ever sink in for me, let alone you. I’ve had the privilege of playing against some top players.

Mario Mandzukic (AML/ST, 32, CRO) was the man responsible for breaking English hearts in the World Cup, but the striker hasn’t exactly been prolific for Juventus. With only 22 goals in 93 league games, he doesn’t exactly bust the net with goals, but he still does boast evident quality. His link up play will be the key. And with that, the experience up front ends. Moise Kean (AML/ST, 18, ITA) is a prodigious young talent who enjoyed time out on loan at Verona last season. And backing him up are the even less experienced Nikolai Frederiksen (ST, 18, DEN) who signed this summer from FC Nordsjaelland, and Stephy Mavididi (ST, 20 ENG) who signed from Arsenal to be part of the U23 squad, but may feature for both depending on the squad situation.

There were a few first team players out on-loan elsewhere, Gonzalo Higuain (ST, 30, ARG, Milan), Stefano Sturaro (DM/MC, 25, ITA, Sporting), Mark Pjaca (AMR/L/C/ST, 23, CRO, Fiorentina) and Andrea Favilli (ST, 21, ITA, Genoa).

After a lot of deliberation, and with some help from the youth coaches and Landon, the final group was settled on. Not every one was fit enough to go, so they would be involved in rehabilitation during that time.

Goalkeepers; Wojciech Szczesny, Mattia Perin, Carlo Pinsoglio
Defenders; Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Alex Sandro, Mehdi Benatia, Daniele Rugani, Joao Cancelo, Andrea Barzagli, Lorenzo Del Prete, Claudio Zappa, Koni De Winter, Paolo Gozzi and Matteo Anzolin
Midfielders; Paolo Dybala, Douglas Costa, Miralem Pjanic, Juan Cuadrado, Blaise Matuidi, Sami Khedira, Federico Bernardeschi, Emre Can, Rodrigo Bentancur, Christian Makoun, Luca Zanimacchia, Alessandro Di Pardo, Cendrim Kameraj and Simone Muratore
Forwards; Cristiano Ronaldo, Moise Kean, Nikolai Frederiksen, Luka Markovic, Cosimo Marco Da Grace and Mirco Lipari



Tina couldn’t find much to fault at all with the squad. But maybe a back-up striker wouldn’t go a miss. She had £17.95m in the budget, and a little bit in spare wages, so bringing one in wouldn’t be out of the question. Time to have a look, she thought.

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Allianz Stadium, Turin, July 20th 2018

The morning training session had gone well. Tina had gotten to spend time with Chiellini, Barzagli and the injured Mattia De Sciglio. She had enjoyed the time chatting with them in broken Italian and English, Chiellini especially making her feel welcome. She did get the sense that he was nearing the end of his time as a Juventus player, the defender turning 34 next month.

Rugani had been giving it some talk about the improvement he had made as a player, clearly a ploy to try and step up as the next big Juventus defender. When he overheard Chiellini, he stepped it up further. Tina laughed looking back it later in the day, God sure does love a tryer. De Sciglio instead had gone on about how annoying his injury is, the pulled calf muscle preventing him from contributing much, even in his home life.

Tina had worked hard in the afternoon to work with the finance department to tie up a new deal for young defender Koni De Winter. He officially put pen to paper on the new deal this afternoon with his agent and father present. The deal will see De Winter sign a three-year professional contract when he turns 17 in June next year. The Juventus supporters were quick to praise the news and were reportedly delighted that one of the best young prospects at the club had committed his immediate future to the team, and that they could look forward to seeing him develop.

Koni was delighted too, expressing admiration for the players he was with and happy to know he would be able to continue his career alongside them.

Tina received her end of week training report with it being Friday, and with no training scheduled for the evening session, she was more than happy to go over it with Landon before they both went home for the evening. The general view of the training performance was that it had been a good week overall in training with most players responding well to the sessions, and players enjoying their first few sessions under their new head coach. There was a slight increase in concentration and focus on the attacking movement side of things, Sandro and Barzagli not reacting superbly to that.

The best trainer the whole week was Carlo Pinsoglio,” said Landon.

He’s making a push for a starting berth in goal,” replied Tina, “And I honestly can’t blame him. He might aswell give it a shot considering the uncertainty in the air.

Landon nodded, “Did you think anymore on the two targets you were planning on bringing in as back-up?

She nodded, “Yeah, and I think for the low cost of wages and one year-deals only, they’d provide good back up options. Plus, Patrice played for the club before. He will blend seamlessly. They will only be stop gaps for the season. I still want a striker on loan too.

Have you put the feelers out?

Yeah, I’ve sent Ronnie and Chris across to Scandinavia to check the talent pool there, but I’ve been given a top recommendation for a one-season loan deal for a Liverpool striker.

And he’s interested too?” Landon enquired, racking his brain trying to figure out who she was potentially referring to.

I believe so. We will see where it goes, but I have no intention to spend any of the money anyway, the side doesn’t need it. We just need back-up players for this coming season.

I’ll get to work on these two then,” said Landon, snatching up the paper. “I’ll get them in for medicals and to sit down with the accounting team after contracts have been agreed.

Tina smiled, “I’m going to get in touch with Jurgen.

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Allianz Stadium, Turin, July 22nd 2018

It had been a busy weekend as news broke of the club’s interest in both Patrice Evra and Robert Huth. They weren’t exactly world beaters, but Evra was a former Juventus player anyway, and Huth was a winner of the Premiership with Leicester in their superlative 2015/16 season.

There was now interest both coming from multiple sides. Three French clubs, notably Montpellier, were looking to take Evra back home to France after his sojourn to London with West Ham last season. Fellow Serie A side SPAL were trying to hijack the Huth deal, while there was major interest also from Sheffield United and Valladolid. SPAL went one further yesterday and submitted a formal offer.

In amongst all that, Tina was still awaiting news on whether Alfredo Magni and Franco Baldini would be joining the club’s backroom staff. There had been no word at all.

So, after a rather busy Saturday, Tina found herself finally enjoying her first day off.

No, Grandma, I haven’t made any friends or boyfriends since getting here,” she said, holding the phone in one hand while trying to stir the contents of what was shaping up to be a pretty awful looking stir fry.

Well you need to get a move on and get married. Your parents would be turning in their graves if they knew you still weren’t married and childless. You know I love you Katrina, but you’re getting older and time is running out.

Tina sighed, knowing full well her Grandparents were aware she dated women. They had this conversation every week. “Is this all you rang me for? Because this seems pretty close to a haranguing rather than a catch up. How is Pops?

Don’t talk to me about that man. He is still buying parts for that car he bought from that guy in the pub.

She laughed, “Is it still not working?

It’s never worked Katrina. He’s waving at me to put him on, hold on a sec,” her Grandma said before a slight kerfuffle on the other end intimated that the phone was changing hands.

Hello sweetheart!” boomed her Grandfather.

Hi Pops,” she said back, pouring stir fry onto her plate with absolutely zero finesse. “How is the car?

Well, your Grandmother hates it, so I must be doing something right. Is she still calling you Katrina?

Yeah she is. I don’t think she will ever stop.

It’s her thing, let her have it. I’m going now sweetheart. Will speak to you next week. I love you very much,” he said before some shouting at the back made him repeat, “We both love you very much.

Tina picked up her food and made her way across to the sofa. The apartment was still fairly spartan at the moment. She kept telling herself she would get out and spruce it up. For now, she just wanted this stir fry. She flicked her laptop open and remembered that the Italian Cup draw would be happening in a few minutes. Italy was different to other places in that many rounds of the cup would be drawn at once. Juventus would enter at the First Round, and there was a whole host of games to take place before then. But the toughest team that her side could face would likely be Genoa, and if they progressed from there, they could meet Milan in the quarter final. Fiorentina were likely the toughest team they could meet in the semi-final. It looked like a pretty safe route in all truth, though they would more than likely meet Milan in the quarters.

Tina had also spoken to Jurgen Klopp earlier in the morning, enquiring as to the loan availability of Divock Origi, and while he had been receptive of the idea, he wanted Alex Sandro. Tina refused to be drawn in on the idea. But then Sandro had caught wind of it, admitting interest in moving to the Premiership. Within hours the story had broken, and from there Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United had all made formal offers.

It was literally like they were waiting in the wings.

Marotta had called up to discuss the potentials of a deal, and Tina expressed her acceptance that a deal would be worthwhile, something she had previously explained to Landon.

But for now, nothing more was happening for her, and she settled in to watch re-runs of Downton Abbey.

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JVillage, Turin, July 23rd 2018

Tina sat and looked at what was a finalised first team sheet, of course excluding any potential transfers, who would be added in afterwards. It was a super strong side on paper, and she still couldn’t believe she had found herself here, right now, with these players.


	| Inf     | Position         | Name                  | Age     | Nat     | Height  | Weight  | Expires   | Value   | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Wnt     | GK               | Wojciech Szczesny     | 28      | POL     | 196 cm  | 84 kg   | 30/6/2021 | £41M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | GK               | Carlo Pinsoglio       | 28      | ITA     | 188 cm  | 85 kg   | 30/6/2020 | £1.2M   | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | GK               | Mattia Perin          | 25      | ITA     | 188 cm  | 74 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £15.75M | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | D (C)            | Leonardo Bonucci      | 31      | ITA     | 190 cm  | 82 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £48.5M  | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | D (RC)           | Andrea Barzagli       | 37      | ITA     | 187 cm  | 87 kg   | 30/6/2019 | £1.7M   | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | D (C)            | Medhi Benatia         | 31      | MAR     | 189 cm  | 94 kg   | 30/6/2020 | £35.5M  | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | D (C)            | Daniele Rugani        | 23      | ITA     | 190 cm  | 84 kg   | 30/6/2021 | £29.5M  | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | D (LC)           | Giorgio Chiellini     | 33      | ITA     | 187 cm  | 85 kg   | 30/6/2020 | £24M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | D/WB/M/AM (R)    | João Cancelo          | 24      | POR     | 182 cm  | 74 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £29M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Hol     | D/WB/M/AM (R)    | Juan Cuadrado         | 30      | COL     | 179 cm  | 72 kg   | 30/6/2020 | £53M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | D (RC), WB (R)   | Lorenzo Del Prete     | 32      | ITA     | 180 cm  | 77 kg   | 30/6/2020 | £525K   | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | D (C), DM, M (C) | Emre Can              | 24      | GER     | 184 cm  | 82 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £36.5M  | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| nEU     | D/WB/M (L)       | Alex Sandro           | 27      | BRA     | 180 cm  | 80 kg   | 30/6/2020 | £51M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Inj     | D/WB/M (L)       | Leonardo Spinazzola   | 25      | ITA     | 186 cm  | 75 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £13.75M | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Inj     | D/WB (RL)        | Mattia De Sciglio     | 25      | ITA     | 182 cm  | 78 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £15.75M | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | DM, M/AM (C)     | Miralem Pjanic        | 28      | BIH     | 178 cm  | 72 kg   | 30/6/2023 | £60M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | DM, M (C)        | Sami Khedira          | 31      | GER     | 189 cm  | 90 kg   | 30/6/2021 | £42M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Hol     | DM, M (C)        | Rodrigo Bentancur     | 21      | URU     | 187 cm  | 72 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £20M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Hol     | DM, M (LC)       | Blaise Matuidi        | 31      | FRA     | 180 cm  | 75 kg   | 30/6/2020 | £42M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Hol     | M/AM (RL)        | Douglas Costa         | 27      | BRA     | 172 cm  | 70 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £65M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | M (R), AM (RLC)  | Federico Bernardeschi | 24      | ITA     | 185 cm  | 77 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £45M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Hol     | AM (C), ST (C)   | Paulo Dybala          | 24      | ARG     | 177 cm  | 75 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £69M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Hol     | AM (L), ST (C)   | Mario Mandzukic       | 32      | CRO     | 190 cm  | 85 kg   | 30/6/2020 | £38.5M  | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Hol     | AM (RL), ST (C)  | Cristiano Ronaldo     | 33      | POR     | 187 cm  | 83 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £66M    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | AM (L), ST (C)   | Moise Kean            | 18      | ITA     | 183 cm  | 72 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £2.5M   | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | ST (C)           | Nikolai Frederiksen   | 18      | DEN     | 180 cm  | 70 kg   | 30/6/2022 | £200K   | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	|         | ST (C)           | Stephy Mavididi       | 20      | ENG     | 183 cm  | 73 kg   | 30/6/2021 | £425K   | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
	| Yth     | ST (C)           | Elia Petrelli         | 16      | ITA     | 188 cm  | 82 kg   | 30/6/2021 | £60K    | 
	| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 


The day had been a fruitful one, with Vittorio Quagliarella accepting the deal offered by Tina to move up and become the new chief scout of Juventus. He was thrilled with the package offered and begins his new journey immediately.

Livorno also accepted a friendly, a late-night kick-off sandwiched between the trips to Cittadella and Cuneo whilst the club would be on its training camp. Livorno would also be on a training camp in the region so the match would be at a neutral venue. For now, Tina would need to concentrate on approaching her first game in charge. Tomorrow would be the first pre-season friendly, a home game against a touring Young Boys side, who seem to be the side to go to for testimonial matches, having played one against Everton for Phil Jagielka and against Zulte Waregem for their goalkeeper Sammy Bossut.

Tina quickly jotted down her upcoming games before heading down for a training session.

24th July 2018 – (h) Young Boys
28th July 2018 – (a) Cittadella (training camp)
30th July 2018 – (n) Livorno (training camp)
4th August 2018 – (a) Cuneo (training camp)
7th August 2018 – (a) FC Bayern
14th August 2018 – (a) Spezia

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24th July 2018 - Friendly
Allianz Stadium, Turin, 23,986

Perin; Chiellini, Rugani, Barzagli, Del Prete, Sandro; Khedira, Can, Bernardeschi, Kean; Mavididi

Tina wasn’t sure on what her first eleven would be this season, but she knew for certain it wouldn’t look like this. Some players were still enjoying extended holidays for various reasons, and this was as close to a functioning eleven Tina could manage. And it still wasn’t a bad side at all.

It was a quiet first ten minutes in which there wasn’t many talking points, though Landon was aware that the wingers, who had been encouraged to try and retrieve the ball more, were likely to commit more fouls. As the side looked like they were trying to get used to the new method of play she was trying to instil, Kevin Mbabu on the other side was having a quiet day mopping up after the front three as they lost the ball plenty early on.

The early concern from Landon was turn out justified, but for the wrong reasons. Moise Kean went into a tackle overly heavy and brought down Miralem Sulejmani in an awkward way. The talismanic Young Boys forward couldn’t carry on and had to be replaced, but no before Assale tested the gloves of Perin with a stinging effort from ten yards.

Del Prete was guilt of a terrible moment of defending when Assale crossed in for Hoarau, but when Del Prete could clear he only sprayed it about five yards to Sow, who sent a shot just sailing above to the right of Perin. It was a lucky let off. The jump Hoarau made however seemed to injure him, and he had to come off, meaning Sulejmani was kept waiting for his potential substitution. Sigrist replaced Hoarau.

The first half was just sketchy and broken, Mavididi not actually touching the ball in the first half at all. With the home side only registering one shot on goal, there was clear issues to be addressed for the second half. Alex Sandro also look hurt, so Tina had to contemplate replacing him too.

Joao Cancelo would be his replacement for the second half, while Elia Petrelli would be making his debut for the club on the day, he would announce putting pen to paper on a full-time deal when he turns 17.

Petrelli took the kick-off, giving him more touches than Mavididi instantly.  The early part of the second half brought more pressure than Tina’s side had mustered so far, looking sluggish as they did so.

Bernardeschi was the one trying the hardest to make something happen, but the end product wasn’t great, nor was the effort of the forward players to get on the ball. It was a ball from the diminutive winger that allowed Khedira to ping a pass to open the field for Cancelo to bomb down the left, though he decided to go alone and skied a shot when it may have been easier to spread the ball across the goal line.

Young Boys were next to threaten, a Sow corner landing on the head of Sigrist at the near post. The midfielder was unmarked and free to rise for it, but he couldn’t get it down enough and Perin saw it over comfortably. And with an hour on the clock, Tina brought Khedira off for Pjanic in the hope that he could inject some life into the game.

The clock continued to wind down and there was just so little to observe. A loose ball crept over the line on the young Boys side, gifting the home side a cheap corner. Bernardeschi, who had continued to be Tina’s leading light, curled in a superb effort that Daniele Rugani rose high to meet. The power on the header was superb and that power took it past von Ballmoos in the visitor’s goal. The player on the line couldn’t even rise in time to prevent it.

The relief at getting the opening goal opened a valve in Tina that allowed her to breath. She was feeling rather obscure in the massive stadium, and was hesitant at times to step out from under the dugout.

Bernardeschi had run himself too far as the game began to wind down, with Frederiksen having to come in his place and changing the formation slightly. A few late rallies from Young Boys threatened to crash the party, but Perin made a decent save to his left to prevent anything of the kind, and slowly but surely the clock crept down until that final whistle went. Two Young Boys players were booked in the final minutes, Sigrist and Gantenbein, but it meant little to the result.

An unlikely goal scorer gave Tina the win she needed on her opening game, but it had been a quiet one.

Underwhelming, one might say.


JUVENTUS (1) Daniele Rugani 77’


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Allianz Stadium, Turin, 25th July 2018
The transfer saga regarding Robert Huth and Patrice Evra was still going on. Stoke City, following their relegation to the Championship, were now desperate to get back the defender they sold to Leicester City for €3m three years earlier. There was also a weird connection for Tina aswell, Huth having been signed by Chelsea from Union Berlin, the side her father had previously managed way back in the day. Fellow relegated side West Brom also followed suit and made a similar offer.

Patrice Evra had also received a new offer – 2011-12 French Ligue 1 champions Montpellier making an offer to bring the 37-year-old to France. Amiens had offered him a deal just yesterday too. She still hoped he would choose Turin over France, but it was hard to tell at the moment which way that deal would turn just yet.

It had been a quiet day, training went well, and the players seemed to be taking on board the tactical approach she was trying to gear towards. She had settled down for the evening knowing that tomorrow the club and registered players would be heading out for the training camp.

For now, she settled in to watch the Champions League. Celtic were first on the catch-up show, making a long trek to Montenegro to play Sutjeska. The Scots went behind after just eighteen minutes, but a double from reliable forward Leigh Griffiths and a late extra from Ryan Christie proved enough to give them a decent first leg advantage. The game of the round turned out to be Kukesi vs. Valur. The home side, hailing from Albania, overcame an early setback, and despite the Icelandic battling back hard, the home team held on hard for a big win. There were comfortable wins for Ludogorets, BATE and Rosenborg, while the two higher profile sides Malmo and Midtjylland played out a 1-1 draw.

In the Best Placed section of qualifying, Ajax beat PAOK 2-1, goals from Huntelaar and the highly sought after de Ligt putting the Dutch side ahead. Former Arsenal youth player Chuba Akpom grabbed PAOK a vital consolation. In the other game, Sturm Graz were held to a 1-1 draw with Basel.

One thing for certain about today was that Divock Origi would not be joining the club on loan. Liverpool refused to arrange a deal, based generally on the fact that Tina refused to sell them Alex Sandro. You can’t win them all. He may still end up in Italy though, with Roma, Lazio and Milan all interested in taking the young striker on a season deal.

There was some positive transfer action for her side though, as a deal had been agreed in principle to complete the signing of the very talented Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali. The 18-year-old, who broke into the Brescia first team last season and made 18 appearances, scoring twice, has impressed enough to earn an international call-up at U21 level. Tina had offered €9m, but she had included a clause allowing the youngster to remain with the Brescia side in Serie B for the forthcoming season. Brescia had been more than happy to accept that deal and now everyone was just signing the relevant sections.

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Training Camp, Vercelli, 27th July 2018

The training camp had gotten underway without any cause for concern. Even though there was quite a lengthy list of players Tina still hadn’t gotten to see yet, the players with her were all as important the last. Tina had one more move up her sleeve for a new forward to join the side. Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose was the new target, and the twins had sneaked across to watch him perform in a friendly. If Willian Jose could be prised away from Spain, then signing him and Tonali would wipe out her funds. But at least for the moment, she would have the players she needed.

Willian Jose was a former Real Madrid player who had bounced around in Spain before making his mark with Sociedad. With him bagging 12 and 15 in his previous two seasons, he was now beginning to get noticed for his quality, something that Vittorio Quagliarella had also picked upon during his first week as chief scout, though in fairness he was tracking him before that. Jose also holds dual nationality for Spain, something that would allow the club to circumnavigate the issue of foreign signings per-season.

Roma confirmed today that Divock Origi would be joining on a season-long loan. Tina wasn’t fussed, knowing that she held all the power in the potential move for Willian Jose now. The striker had gone on record to state that he would love to move to a big side like Juventus, after finding out the scouts had visited, but spoke little more of a deal. Tina had tabled an €18m deal, no extras, no clauses, just cold hard cash. Director of football Fabio Paratici had gone out to Spain to be on standby if the deal was accepted, Tina eager to prevent Valencia from swooping in, who had actually been rumoured of already having made a bid. So maybe it was Tina who was swooping. She didn’t know and ultimately it didn't matter now.

She was running a fitness drill when her phone rang.

It’s Fabio,” he said, “We’re making progress.

Tina smiled, kicking a ball back towards Cancelo who controlled it wonderfully. “How are we getting on?

There was a pause. “They’ve accepted our offer, but they’ve also received and accepted offers from Valencia, which we knew, and surprisingly Everton have also made a move. It’s a three-way battle now, but we are on top I think.

Bloody Marco Silva, trying to sneak his way in to this deal,” muttered Tina. “The Premiership could be a huge boost to their prospects of getting him.

Fabio didn’t agree, “I doubt it. We have Champions League football on offer, and more give in the wages we can offer. My money is riding on us. I’ve got to meet with his representatives next, Valencia are already in there annoyingly. Also, Marco Silva is actually here somewhere, I’ve seen him.

Let me know how it goes, Fabio.

Tina got back to her training, eager to keep the session going despite the sweltering heat that was now striking the camp in Vercelli. Landon was over by the strikers, though Tina recalled the conversation she had with him earlier. He was extremely excited by Moise Kean, the young striker having had such a positive impact on the American in the first few days of meeting him. Kean, who only turned 18 in February, was beginning to show himself as a mature leader of the younger players, and he would be key on this trip as probably the better striker on the tour.

Tina waited for a further call from Fabio, but there wasn’t another.

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28th July 2018 - Friendly
Pier Cesare Tombolato, Cittadella, 5,961 att.

Pinsoglio; Chiellini, Benatia, Barzagli, Sandro; Khedira, Can, Cancelo, Pjanic, Kean; Petrelli

Franco Baldini agreed terms to join the club, having delayed the deal for a week. No-one ever said why, but there was belief that a managerial position was on the table, or at least potentially. He clearly didn’t get it, but Tina and the Juventus board were still super keen to bring him on board as a coach.

The town of Cittadella itself, a walled city in the Italian province of Padua, was actually quite picturesque.  The former military outpost is one of only two still walled towns in the region, along with Montagnana.

There were a couple of changes as Tina altered the front line, while she also gave a slight re-jig to the back line after reducing it from a back five. Benatia came in, as did Cancelo and Pjanic. Petrelli replaced Mavididi.

There was an air of anticipation as the game kicked off, but within thirty seconds there was an absolute disaster that left disappointment on the whole Juventus side. Cittadella had kicked off, and with Adorni on the ball, Emre Can rolled in and two footed his way to an instant red card. It was a disgusting challenge, absolutely worthy of a red card, and Tina had to bite her tongue as he walked past her to leave the pitch. Pjanic had to drop back from his attacking midfield role, though playing with ten men for a whole game was going to be tough.

The home side hit the post fairly early on, Lori rising highest to head past Pinsoglio but meet the woodwork on the way. But Lori would be the difference as ten minutes later he pinged a ball over the top that left Benatia caught out. Finotto raced away with it, and despite Pinsoglio getting low to stop the first one, the second found the back of the net and just like that, Juventus were behind.

The home side continued to be a real threat from aerial dominance, and they struck again, catching a lethargic Juventus defence napping. Strizzolo crossed from deep, and Adorni, who may have actually fouled Barzagli, headed in to an empty goal with Pinsoglio nowhere in sight.

The first half had been an utter right off for Tina and she couldn’t believe her side were two goals down to a Serie B side with little to have shown for the first half. She would deal with Emre Can later, but for now, she had to try and make some impact at half time, as the whistle blew bringing the turgid forty-five to an end.

Barzagli wasn’t one to emerge for the second half. Tina could see that he wasn’t coping so there was little point in leaving him on there. Del Prete came in for him.

The second half was equally as rubbish as the first had been and Tina couldn’t get anything to change the slowness of the game. Mavididi was the next to appear as a substitute, replacing Petrelli

It was hard pinpointing where the last contribution had been from the youngster.

Pjanic had a superb chance as the game went on, some decent left-hand side play by Sandro and Kean allowing him the free space to hit a shot, but it narrowly went wide and had the keeper scrambling.

Bringing Bernardeschi on as late as she did do really didn’t present Tina with any super come back in her head, but she was now just determined to get fitness for as many players as possible. Pjanic was the only player really showing much effort, and he eventually broke the Cittadella wall that Juventus had struggled with all day. His freekick into the box was cleared but only to Mavididi, who hit a wonderful first-time effort. With eighty-six on the clock, was a comeback now possible?

And then the flag was spotted.

Pinsoglio made a wonderful late save, but Tina was just glad to finish this match. And when Bernardeschi limped off injured she had just had enough.

The walled town had won out. What a disappointment.

CITTADELLA (2) 2 Finotto 14, Adorni 32

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