‘The season starts now’ seems to be the mantra. Fine by me, given that I’ve missed all the games in anger to date, having opted to swan around parts of Italy in the sun for the past couple of weeks. So it begins with one point on the board rather than the tally I was hoping for; clearly it could have been worse, but not by much: no clean sheets, injuries, red card, and a decidedly downbeat tone to the updates I was getting from fellow Addicks watching the Middlesbrough game.
It’s a bit incongruous to pass any sort of comment on games I’ve not been around to see (and I only managed last night to catch the Barnsley highlights). But from a distance the disappointing start to the season doesn’t seem to be entirely without possible reason. We spent the pre-season friendlies largely playing with one up front, by default, then bring in two new forwards shortly before the opening game, with little time for all to get acquainted. Add in the disruption to midfield from the Pritchard sending off and the injury to Jackson (and now seemingly Stephens on the sidelines) and it’s not surprising we’re not yet firing on all cylinders. When that happens, the focus surely has to be on ensuring that nothing is given away at the back and for me to date the disappointment has been in conceding four against Bournemouth and Barnsley.
Early days, but no question that there’s pressure on us this Saturday. A failure to beat Doncaster at home would compound concerns about a repeat of our home form for much of last season and, with Leicester and Watford coming up after that, a sticky start could turn into something more serious. (Of course after that it’s the Spanners, a game that my French partner Suzanne will be able to attend; surprised to see last night a certain Nicky Bailey featuring for them, but I guess needs must; will we have time to rewrite the song? Nice to see we’ve been allocated 4,000 tickets for Huddersfield away in the Capital One Cup, may not need more I’d guess – perhaps the club can arrange a special award for anyone who travels twice to Huddersfield for midweek games in the space of a couple of weeks.)
There’s going to be uncertainty about possible further goings and comings before the transfer window shuts, which will be an additional factor working against getting a settled team. In the interim, there’s work to be done by Sir Chris and his staff in getting the team selection for Doncaster right, with questions in all areas (except goalkeeper of course): does Dervitte’s performance at Barnsley merit a rest? What four in midfield might be available (and is Cousins ready for a start)? And will Church stay in ahead of Sordell (that one does seem straightforward for now)? Victory and a clean sheet if you please.
That’s the preamble out of the way. Now for the real reason for the post. Italy was of course a delight (even though most of the Barolo, Barbaresco etc ended up being left in Lyon), not least for the wonderful hospitality of the people we rented the second place from, in Piedmont. Turns out that the father of the woman who manages the renting, Franco Dassereto, played for Sampdoria for over 10 years, probably (if my maths are better than my Italian, which they have to be) through the 60s. I tried to ask him if he played with, or remembered, a certain Eddie Firmani, who left us to join Sampdoria in 1955 (before of course later returning as a player and then manager). But I’m not sure I managed to get the question across, and certainly didn’t understand the answer if there was one.
I’ve tried to check out Franco’s details with a little surfing; he’s listed on a couple of Sampdoria players sites but couldn’t discover more. But I feel I already have a clear picture of his career. When I asked him if he played attack, midfield or defence (more by sign language than anything else) there was a proud glint in his eye when he replied ‘defencione’. Great company and friendly as he undoubtedly is, you could just tell that he’d spent his time happily kicking lumps out of any opponent that had the temerity to approach the Sampdoria box with or without the ball. I don’t know what the Italian is for ‘ah, those were the days’ but like to think that’s what he added after a pause for thought.