Who will win Serie A’s Europa League race?

This season has again seen Juventus powerfully dominate the Italian top flight with Roma following closely behind. Napoli too seem to be almost sure of a Champions League spot, whilst Fiorentina also will finish in Europe as they face the Neapolitans in the Coppa Italia final.

This leaves the Europa League places up for grabs and with fifth and sixth place allowing for teams to feature in the competition, the battle is heating up. The final two places will seemingly be fought out between five teams, all with a good argument to say that they deserve one of the spots.

Inter are sitting at the top of the pile in fifth spot and perhaps would be the book makers favourites to qualify. Their last game saw them thrash Sampdoria away 0-4 and on the face of it that would suggest that they will finish strongly. Closer examination however, shows up three draws and a win in their last four games, twice here it should be noted they threw away good leads. The fixture list ahead is also daunting as they face fellow hopefuls Parma, Napoli, Milan and Lazio before the end. The Nerazzurri could go into their last game against to Chievo already out of the hunt.

Parma are two points behind Inter and by their own admission have had a great season. Unbeaten from November until the end of March their run was brought to an end by Juventus. This caused a minor breakdown in their European dream as they fell victim to double defeats in Rome, as Lazio and Roma both rolled over them. Some form has been brought back as they beat Napoli and drew with Bologna but the next game against Inter is key. Should they beat the Nerazzurri then only Torino and perhaps Sampdoria could hamper their chances between now and the end of the season.

Torino are on 48 points just three outside the qualification places. They have had a majestic season with the front two, Circo Immobile and Alessio Cerci forming a deadly partnership. There goals have kept ‘Toro’ in with a fighting chance recording three wins in their last three. The fixtures ahead are a mixture however, as they have to face Lazio, Parma and Fiorentina before the end of the campaign.

By their own admission Milan’s season has been shambolic. Clarence Seedorf has steadied the ship to a degree but is still under immense scrutiny and is perhaps not expected to be in his role next summer. Much may depend on his ability to qualify for Europe, a task which has seemed beyond them for most of the campaign. Four wins in four may suggest that fans should sit up and take note but the nature of the wins suggest otherwise. Their displays have not suggested that they are a team that can maintain this momentum and with games against Roma, the derby against Inter and a tough away tie against Atalanta it would be a surprise if they made it through.

Lazio are also sitting on 48 points and are in mixed form. Two wins, a draw and two defeats in their last five suggest that they may not have the legs to make it to the European places but they have an outside chance. If they manage to beat Torino in their next match at home they will have Livorno and Hellas Verona to face before a game against Inter who themselves will be coming off the back of some tough fixtures. The way in which the Romans matches pan out just may see them gain some momentum.

To predict is quite simply to guess this season as it is at the end of most campaign. Form often goes out of the window and when teams suddenly have nothing to play for then the nature of some games change. The romantics would have Parma and Torino charging into Europe on the back of a nostalgic wave. The realist would perhaps prefer the two Milan clubs due to the sustainability of a challenge and in turn the coefficient.

By Richard Hall

Follow me on Twitter @Gentleman_Ultra

British Players in Italy: Trevor Francis

“He is the best Englishman to have played in Italy.” Fabio Capello on Trevor Francis during an interview in 2008.

“I was very pleased to hear this,” Francis admitted. “To receive a compliment from a man of this stature both in England and in Italy fills me with pride.” Indeed it was a grand compliment from one of Italy’s most acclaimed coaches. But what made this Englishman’s career on the peninsula so impressive?

Since bursting onto the scene for Birmingham at the tender age of 16, Francis had become British football’s first million pound man and also scored the winner in Nottingham Forrest’s European Cup final triumph over Malmo in 1979. Three years later, Francis had just finished his first season at a cash-strapped Manchester City and after returning from England’s World Cup campaign, Sampdoria approached the Plymouth born forward. A deal was struck. Francis moved to the Ligurian coast for £700,000 and embarked on his Italian adventure.

Sampdoria had just returned to the big time after enduring a bleak spell in Serie B and their president, Paolo Mantovani, had high aspirations. Signing Francis was a statement of intent and with the help of their English acquisition, Il Doria made a spectacular start to their 1982-83 Serie A campaign. Samp won their first three games, including home wins against a Juventus side that boasted Michel Platini, Paolo Rossi and Gaetano Scirea, a Roma team whose midfield was governed by legendary Brazilian, Falcao, and a win at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza against Inter. The victories sent shockwaves across Italy and in the Blucerchiati’s triumph over the Nerazzurri, Francis made ripples of his own.

After just 11 minutes, with the game at 0-0, the Englishman set off from his own half, eating up ground and gliding effortlessly past the one defender that dared to stop him. Having reached the edge of the penalty area, he exchanged a one-two with Roberto Mancini and fired his shot – off balance – into the bottom corner. It was an exultant start and his side went onto to win the game 2-1 thanks to a splendid Mancini volley.

The Birmingham youth product quickly became accustomed to the mores of Italian lifestyle and this was, in part, thanks to fellow English speaker Liam Brady.
“It was reassuring to have somebody there who could speak English. Having already been there in Italy with Juventus, Liam Brady could speak Italian which was also helpful.”

However during the Ligurian’s third successive victory over Roma, Francis was on the receiving end of a rumbustious tackle from defender Pietro Vierchowod. Renowned for his rugged approach, the Italian’s tackle kept Francis side-lined for several weeks and it was perhaps no coincidence that Samp’s astonishing form tailed off. The Englishman’s injury hampered his progress and Il Doria eventually consolidated their Serie A status, finishing in seventh place.

The following season Francis returned with a bang, producing one of the performances of the season away at Inter, a side that must have been sick of the sight of him. With the Benemata leading 1-0, Francis took the game by the scruff of the neck and scored two second-half goals to earn his side another famous victory.

While his first goal had all the hallmarks of a deadly finisher, the second was virtuoso and truly world class. Watching the goal, the similarity to Michael Owen’s against Argentina in 1998 is striking. Francis’s turn of pace to burst past two defenders was frightening and his left foot finish into the top-right corner unerring. The magisterial performance even prompted Inter’s legendary shot-stopper, Walter Zenga, to claim: “Francis is the best forward I’ve ever seen.”

By the 1984-85 campaign Francis had been joined by fellow Brit, Graeme Souness, in a Samp squad which possessed the likes of Gianluca Vialli, Mancini and ironically, Francis’s old nemesis – Pietro Vierchowod. The Doriani bared the fruits of this talented amalgam and in 1985 they secured their first trophy of the Mantovani era, winning the Coppa Italia. Yet Francis’s lack of fitness came back to haunt him as he missed out on playing in the final.

Unfortunately for the former Nottingham Forrest man, this proved to be a leitmotif throughout his Italian career and according to journalist Piero Sessarego, Francis suffered from hyperuricemia – an excess of uric acid in the blood – which weakened his muscle fibres. Some also suggested that Francis may not have helped himself by indulging in some of life’s guilty pleasures, a love for drink and food were among his ‘alleged’ misdemeanours.

There was no panacea for his muscular problems and Francis eventually left Samp in 1986 to join Atalanta. In truth this spelt the end of his time in Italy and after an indifferent year in Lombardy – where he registered just one goal in 21 appearances – the Englishman joined Rangers to player under his former teammate Souness.

Despite the injuries, Francis and Sampdoria remember each other with equal fondness. In 68 appearances for the club he registered 17 goals and his exploits have not been forgotten. In November 2012, Francis was Sampdoria’s guest of honour for the derby against Genoa, a privilege he was proud to be awarded.

“It was marvellous to go back and see so many old friends…I was greatly appreciated by the supporters and they gave me a warm welcome on my return.”
And is it any wonder. Francis was an intelligent forward. His movement was intuitive and pace blistering. This combined with an adroit first touch and a veritable elegance made him a genuine entertainer. This is what distinguished him. Serie A was renowned for resolute and uncompromising defenders, but he had the ability to embarrass the very best of them. Just ask Walter Zenga and Fabio Capello.

By Luca Hodges-Ramon - @LH_Ramon25

The Gentleman Ultra’s game of the weekend

Bologna - Parma

Stadio Renato Dall’Ara

Over the last five games both clubs have only taken four points, but both may have stopped the rot after taking points off Inter and Napoli respectively in the last round of matches.

Bologna managed to peg back the Nerazzurri to earn themselves a crucial 2-2 draw at San Siro. The draw and the goals were badly needed as Bologna have only won one of their last nine and, sat just two points above the drop-zone, every result counts at present.

“This is a very important point for us in the race towards safety, but every game from now to the end of the season must be approached the same way,” Davide Ballardini said afterwards.

“It is a difficult campaign, we have a two-point advantage over the relegation zone, but there’s a long way to go yet.”

Parma got back to winning ways after a terrible loss of form. A draw at Genoa was followed by defeats at Juventus, Lazio and then Roma. The win against Napoli has kept the Europa League dream well and truly alive, though.

Donadoni was in a bullish mood stating that, “we were coming off three consecutive defeats, even if two were undeserved, but we never cried over spilt milk. We knew this squad was achieving great things and we are satisfied for our fans, the city and our President.”

This will be the 30th Emilia-Romagna derby between the two teams in Serie A. Their record against each other stands at an even nine wins each and 11 draws. It must be noted however that Bologna have won only one of their last seven games against their rivals and have failed to find the net on four occasions.

Keep an eye on: Jonathan Biabiany (Parma) - Parma may have been in a run of poor form as they endured three defeats in 10 days but one man has still shone throughout. Jonathan Biabiany has been Parma’s shining light through these tough fixtures, scoring against both Lazio and Roma.

Form Guide: Bologna (L W L L D) Parma (D L L L W)

Last season: Bologna 1-2 Parma

Stat fact: The next goal Bologna score will be their 3000th in Serie A

Bologna (probable): Curci; Antonsson, Natali, Cherubin, Garics, Pazienza, Krhin, Christodoulopoulos , Morleo, Kone, Cristaldo

Parma (probable): Mirante; Cassani, Lucarelli, Paletta, Molinaro, Acquah, Marchionni, Munari, Biabiany, Amauri, Schelotto



By Richard Hall @Gentleman_Ultra

The Gentleman Ultra blog combines an excellent mix of classic imagery and in-depth profiles with stories of journeys around the peninsula and current news. Highly recommend it for any fan of Calcio or even Italian culture in general.
Dylan Fahy Italian football writer for The Independent, Sky Sport Italia, Scottish Television and Football-Italia.net.

Classic Serie A Match; Bologna v Parma 18th June 2005

16 - Fiorentina 42pts
17 - Parma 42pts
18 - Bologna 42pts

This is how the Serie A table looked for three of Italy’s most famous clubs come the end of the 2004-2005 season. With Brescia and Atalanta already relegated on 41 and 35 points respectively the question now, was who would join them?

Fiorentina were the lucky ones as they had a greater head to head against the two biggest clubs from Emilia Romagna. This meant it was down to a two legged Derby Dell’Emilia to decide things.

Bologna came out on top in the first leg at Parma’s Stadio EnnioTardini, winning 0-1 thanks to an Igli Tare strike. The tie also saw Parma keeper’ Luca Bucci and Bologna’s Christian Amoruso sent off after a clash at the end, this meant they would be missing for the return leg.

Bologna welcomed their neighbours to the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on the evening of 18th June in confident mood following on from there 0-1 win at the Tardini. Parma however, were always going to be dangerous with 22 year old Alberto Gilardino leading their line, having already bagged 23 goals that season.

The atmosphere was electric, the players faces intense, full of concentration, this was massive, there was so much at stake.

The worlds top referee Pierluigi Collina got the game underway, it was a scrappy start with, both teams creating half chances. The players were clearly nervous, not wanting to make a mistake.
The away side would take the lead in the 16th minute as Guiseppe Cardone beat the Bologna defence to finish from a Parma corner sending the Gialloblu faithful behind the goal into ecstasy.
It was all square and game on.

The goal really settled Parma and the confidence began to grow. Australian midfielder Mark Bresciano nearly doubled the lead as his ambitious long range drive had Gianluca Pagliuca beaten. Unfortunately for him it flew over the bar.

This gave Bologna a much needed wake up call and they in response had chances of their own, forcing the best out of young French goalkeeper Sebastian Frey.  Parma seemed rattled and Frey was forced into an unbelievable stop as an Igle Tare header to Frey’s right saw him somehow claw the ball away.

It was end to end stuff now and Pagluica was forced into a good save at his near post from another Parma corner. Frey was also performing more heroics he was really impressing and keeping his side in it.

Bologna managed to keep Alberto Gilardino quiet as half time neared. That was until the 45th minute, when he pounced to score probably the easiest of his all of his 23 goals. He got on the end of a low cross ball to tap home from close range, over the barrier he went, fists pumping towards the Parma fans, they knew how big this goal was. The half would end 0-2.

As the second half began Carlo Mazzone’s Bologna knew they had a mountain to climb but the came out the traps flying, Parma didn’t know what hit them and had Sebastian Frey to thank for making another hand full superlative saves.

Frey was eventually beaten though as Ciro Capuano headed past him. Collina however, spotted something and ruled it out, replays would show that Capuano had actually scored a ‘hand of god’ type goal, it had been correctly ruled it out.  What followed was 45 minutes continual Bologna attacking but Parma managed to hang on to win 2-1 on aggregate. This was thanks to the brilliance of Sebastian Frey whose goalkeeping brilliance had sent their great rivals down to Serie B, making the victory that little bit more special.

This Sunday lunch time the two sides meet again and again there’s a lot at stake with Bologna fighting for their lives again and Parma hoping for a return to European football next season. This has the makings of another classic Derby Dell’Emilia.


By Giovanni Dougall



The sixth in the series of short pieces focusing on Kyle Lafferty. The Northern Irish born player is representing Britain in Italy and is performing well at Palermo.  


Palermo – Avellino

Kyle Lafferty was on the bench for the start of the match as Palermo Coach Beppe Iachini opted for an Argentinian duo of Franco Vazquez and Paulo Dybala.    

After a scoreless first half, Iachini put in his super sub in the 52nd minute, replacing Dybala with the Northern Irishman. As has so often been the case this season, Lafferty’s introduction into the match provided the Rosanero with the jolt they needed to push towards victory.

Two minutes after Lafferty stepped onto the pitch, Palermo scored. From an Alen Stevanovic cross into the box, Lafferty provided enough pressure on the Avellino defender marking him and caused his opponent to merely let the ball glance off his head and fall to the feet of Rosanero captain Edgar Barreto who slotted it home for a 1-0 lead.

In the 74th minute, Lafferty linked up with Vazquez with some lovely passing that ended with a wonderful ball from the Northern Irishman to the feet of Vazquez in front of goal. Unfortunately, the Argentine’s shot was straight at the keeper.

Yet, Lafferty would get his assist in the 86th minute. His physicality in the Avellino box allowed him to shoulder off his defender with his back to goal and lay it off for midfielder Francesco Bolzoni to score the definitive 2-0. Whether Lafferty meant to pass or whether he simply lost the ball in a convenient matter was of little consequence.

The Rosanero were able to secure the three points and continue their march towards Serie A. That Kyle Lafferty has been an important part of that march is an indisputable fact. He has 9 goals in 29 appearances for the club. His quest to take his tally to double digits will have to wait another week.


By Lorenzo Vicini follow him on Twitter @ 

When Calcio Ruled The World: Jürgen Kohler

It was the start of the 1990’s and Silvio Berlusconi’s AC Milan were dominating Serie A. Just how do you stop Marco Van Basten, Ruud Guillt, Frank Rijkaard and as well as the rest of that Milan side?

In the land where traditionally the best defenders on the planet come from, Juventus looked further a field. They signed a giant German to try and stop Arrigo Sacchi’s red and black machine That man was Jürgen Kohler.

Kohler was already a proven top class defender having already a World Cup winners medal and a Bundesliga title. This was acquired before he joined The Old Lady from Bayern Munich in 1991.

He was everything you could ask for in a defender, conistant from, hard tackling, dominant in the air and an ability to read the game. Kohler also had an impressive goal scoring record for a defender with 36 career goals to his name.

The big German settled in well in Turin and formed a formidable defensive unit along side, Ciro Ferrara, Andrea Fortunato and Massimo Carrera with the great Angelo Peruzzi behind them.

With this solid back line success soon followed and Kohler was a key player. The Bianconeri lifted the 1993 UEFA Cup beating Kohler’s fellow German’s Borussia Dortmund 3-1, this was followed by a domestic double in 1995 as Juventus won the Italian Cup. They finally stopped the Milan domination and lifted the Serie A title this year winning it by an impressive ten points with Kohler at the heart of the defence he was solid.

With mission some what accomplished in stopping Milan, Kohler, after just over 100 Juventus appearances would leave after the Serie A title win. He would head back to Germany to join the team Juventus beat in the 93 UEFA Cup Final, Borussia Dortmund.

His affection for The Old Lady never faded as after he and Dortmund won the 1997 Champions League 3-1 against Juventus. Kohler was seen wearing a Juventus scarf during the lap of honour given to him from the crowd a great gesture by a true Bianconeri club legend.

When Calcio ruled the world, Jürgen Kohler made it look easy stopping the worlds greatest forwards.

By Giovanni Dougall


Classic Calcio Kits - Parma Away 1993-95

Team: Parma

Shirt: Away 1993-95

Make: Umbro

Sponsor: Parmalat

Worn by:Asprilla, Zola, Brolin, Crippa, Minotti amongst others.             

Fact: This shirt was worn in the 1994 Cup Winners Cup defeat to Arsenal in Copenhagen. It was also worn in the 1994/95 season when Parma faced Juventus in both the Coppa Italia Final and the UEFA Cup Final. In the latter they wore this shirt in the 1-1 second leg that secured them their first ever UEFA Cup

When Calcio Ruled The World: Roberto Donadoni

The fact that Silvio Berlusconi made him one of his first purchases when he took over power at AC Milan in 1986 tells you how good this tricky little winger was.

Weaving up and down the wings for home town club Atalanta, Donadoni had four very impressive season in Bergamo. He made just shy of 100 appearances scoring five goals.

His career really took off in 1986 when 23 year old Donadoni left Atalanta for the bright lights of Milan. President Berlusconi’s exciting new project ahead and Roberto was to be integral to it.

He was a small, slim, tricky midfielder usually played out on the right wing. He was great to watch, an old style winger, he had skill, feints, bursts of speed, crossing, shooting, phenomenal technique. In fact he had everything and it didn’t take him long to cement his place in the Milan team.

It wasn’t long before Donadoni helped bring success to Berlusconi’s ‘New Milan’. Firstly under Arrigo Sacchi Milan won the 1987/88 Scudetto, Donadoni played alongside greats like Marco Van Basten, Ruud Guillit & Franco Baresi.
Berlusconi’s new project was well underway and Milan with Donadoni at the heart of it they scooped the 1988/89 European Cup blowing away Steaua Bucuresti 4-0 in the Final.

At the start of the 90’s Donadoni would experience change at Milan with coach Sacchi leaving for the national team. He was replaced by Fabio Capello but success continued as Milan dominated at home and on the European front. Roberto was a key member of Milan’s ‘Gli Invicibili’ (The Invincibles) as they went a 58 match unbeaten run in 1991/92 and with a defence that included Baresi, Costacurta and Maldini.


The exciting winger won three consecutive scudetti between 1992 - 1994 as well as three Champions League finals in a row. One out the three was the infamous game when they destroyed Barcelona 4-0 in the 1994 final.

After the 1995/1996 Scudetto Coach Capello was off, it would also see the end of Roberto Donadoni’s 10 incredible years in Milan after almost 300 appearances.

MLS franchise ‘The MetroStars’ made Donadoni their centre piece when he joined in 1996. It was a step down but it was no wonder that Donadoni was the outstanding performer. He played well for the MetroStars but this did not provide the club with any success.

In 1997 Donadoni went back ‘home’ to Milan. He played like he’d never been away as he instantly turned in performance after performance helping them to yet another Scudetto, it was Donadoni’s sixth.

Donadoni left Milan in 1999 a true club legend spending more than ten years of his career there. He helped them win six league titles, three UEFA Champions Leagues, three UEFA Super Cups and four Italian Super Coppas.

He retired from playing in 2000 after a brief spell with Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia.

He has now turned his head to coaching and after tough spells at Italy, Napoli and Cagliari to name a few, he has now settled. Many are now seeing his enjoying his skills again as he attempts to bring back the glory days to Parma.

When Calcio Ruled the World Roberto Donadoni was dancing up and down the right wing at the San Siro.

By Giovanni Dougall




'The Stadio Olimpico has been a great place for us to play but it has clearly had its time,' Roma president James Pallotta said on Wednesday.' (The new stadium) is clearly going to give us a competitive advantage.”

"It’s impossible designing a building here without considering the architectural history in Rome," Meis said. "The stadium will have an outer wall that will be a new vision of the Colosseum."

Labeled ‘Stadio della Roma’ for now - until naming rights are awarded - the facility will seat 52,500 spectators and be able to expand to 60,000 for major matches.

Classic Serie A Match: Parma v Napoli, September 1990

After losing at home to Juventus and drawing away to Lazio it was a frustrating start to life in Serie A for Nevio Scala’s newly promoted Parma.

As match day three arrived things didn’t get any easier as the Gialloblu welcomed Diego Maradona’s Napoli to the Tardini. However, this afternoon would prove to be the beginning of a magical journey for Scala and his men from Emilia Romagna.

There was a lot of talent on show, Maradona, Sandro, Melli, Careca, Ciro Ferrara, Claudio Taffarel and many more. This had the makings of a great game.

The Tardini was at it’s finest packed full with yellow and blue flags and scarves waving in the sun and buzzing with excitement. As usual when the teams emerged all cameras were on one man, Diego Maradona. This however this would not be his afternoon.

The game started at a ferocious pace and Napoli had the first real chance Fernando Di Napoli broke up play in the middle of the park sending Napoli into a lightning quick attack. Taffarel was rounded but the Parma centre halves got back to snuff out the danger.

The 100mph pace to this game didn’t let up, next Parma broke down the left. Alessandro Melli flying past the last Napoli defender had the fans on their feet but he was smothered by Giovanni Galli in the Napoli goal.

Melli’s pace was causing all sorts of problems for Napoli as again he flew down the left wing dancing past the Napoli right back only to be halted by a fantastic last ditch sliding tackle by Ciro Ferrara.

Scala was the happier manager as he enthusiastically barked out orders from the touch line. Alberto Bigon however, sat there, feet up as if watching TV from his couch.

Ciro Ferrara finally tested Claudio Taffarel for the first time in the game as his thumping headed from a set piece forced the Brazilian to throw himself to his left to keep it out.

It was level at half time, it may have been goalless but what an entertaining half of football the full house at the Tardini witnessed.

The second half started the same way as almost the whole of the first half went with the new boys Parma dominating the Partenopei. Napoli seemed to still be in the changing room as Parma created chance after chance. The break through eventually came on the 64 minute as Marco Osio opened his account for the season, Rocco De Marco burst down the right into the Napoli penalty area whipping an unstoppable ball in for Osio. He threw himself at the ball and headed it into an empty net at the back post from close range, 1-0 to the hosts.

As the sun set beautifully behind the Tardini, Napoli struggled to respond as Parma remained on top, Alberto Bigon now out his seat looming concerned as Parma continue to waste chances first from Melli them Osio ballooned over when clean through on Galli.

Maradona was kept very quiet and the Parma defence had an outstanding game as they ran out 1-0 winners, this was a result that kicked started newly promoted Parma’s season as they went on to finish an impressive 5th place with Alessandro Melli scoring 13 goals. As for Napoli they ended up a disappointing eight position.

Rafa Benitez takes his Napoli side to the Tardini this Sunday night, yes we would like more goals but if we get get as high a tempo game with an electric atmosphere as we did in 1990 we’ll be in for a treat.


By Giovanni Dougall


The Clark Stupple Column

(Clark takes a no nonsense approach in his research into Italian Ultra culture)

Ultra Culture: The Government’s Bastard Son

As we all know the government hates Ultras and the Italian government is no different but what they fail to realise is that it is the government that is the root of the so-called evil.

 “Football is for you and me.. Not for fucking industry.”  famous Ultra phrase


"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." New Testament (1 Timothy 6:10a, NIV):

You probably couldn’t find two phrases that sum up the root of Ultra Culture better if you tried. It is as simple as this.

The following is an extract from Understanding Football Hooliganism – A Comparison Of Six Western European Football Clubs a book published by the Amsterdam University and researched by the Amsterdam School for Social Science.



Traditions of football hooliganism in Latin America are not confined to Argentina and Brazil. Comparable fan groups can be found in countries such as Per, Chile, Uruguay and Colombia. In Peru, a nation that experienced serious political violence, deepening economic recession and a breakdown of law and order in the late 1980s and early 1990s, young members of the barras bravas tend to come from the most impoverished and marginalized sections of the urban economy. They are as Panfichi and Thieroldt  (2002: 157) concluded, “excluded from most educational and employment opportunities and other potential avenues of social mobility. Their main identities, therefore, lie precisely in their neighborhoods or barrios, and in their football clubs.’ From the 1980s onwards, and especially during the 1990s, football increasingly came to provide an opportunities for expression of competitive violence by increasingly large numbers of youths.   

Although Italy is clearly not Latin America the fundamental reasons behind this study applies, and not only for Italy but anywhere.

You only have to look at when British hooliganism or the Casual scene was at its peak during Margret Thatcher’s rein, the minor’s strikes, economical recession; unemployment at it’s highest it plain to see this was not a coincidence. The government’s failure gave birth to the football hooligan, as we know it.

With that it comes as no surprise to see that the Ultra culture is back on the rise just as Italy hits fanatical crisis. But now this new era of Ultra has another enemy fueling its fire, the billionaires that treat the common mans football clubs as his new play thing. 

New owners come in change the names of clubs their colours even their crests. They buy and sell players like nothing more than commodities with no consideration for the people who call that club their own people that if you cut them open they would bleed their clubs colors. Those same people will not stand by and watch it happen they will form an uprising, like it or not Ultra Culture is well and truly back and once again it has been born from the upper classes naivety. It could be said it is almost like a bastard son ready to take his dads throne and take back rightful control of his empire.  


Next time we will be taking a look at left wing and right wing clubs and the reasoning behind their beliefs

By Clark Stupple @Clarkiebaby


The fifth in the series of short pieces focusing on Kyle Lafferty. The Northern Irish born player is representing Britain in Italy and is performing well at Palermo. This latest installment covers the last three matches which were played in the span of eight days.

Pescara – Palermo

Kyle Lafferty started the match on the bench as Palermo traveled to Pescara to face a squad that has not lived up to its potential as a promotion hopeful this season.   

Lafferty once again came on as a substitute in the 60th minute but he made his presence felt. Having just conceded a goal that levelled the score several minutes prior, Palermo Coach Beppe Iachini was pushing for the win by throwing on the Northern Irishman.

Kyle’s job was to break through the pesky Pescara defense and open up space for the Palermo attack to operate. As he’s done so often this season, Lafferty has proven to be quite the thorn in the opposition’s side. In his short time on the pitch, he was in the middle of several dust-ups as the result of an aggressive style of play. Lafferty did indeed cause several fits for a few Pescara players and won several fouls – one of which led to a booking for Pescara’s Zuparic almost immediately after Lafferty came on.

Lafferty did prove critical to Palermo’s match-winner in the 76th minute. Gathering a pass outside the top of the box, Kyle trapped it with his right foot and then unleashed a volley that forced a tremendous save from the Pescara goalkeeper near the bottom corner. A follow-up shot from Andrea Belotti was put out for a corner. From the ensuing corner, Belotti put Palermo ahead for good with a powerful header. Moments later, Lafferty delivered an excellent cross to Belotti who narrowly missed a brace as his header went just over the bar. The match would finish 2-1 for visitors Palermo.


Palermo – Siena

Rewarded for his hard work in the previous match, Kyle Lafferty was given the start in a key matchup between the two best teams in Serie B. While Palermo sit in first place, the reality is Siena would be in second place just behind them had it not been for a seven point deduction handed to the club for financial irregularities. Nevertheless, the match promised to be a very delicate affair.

Early on, Lafferty had a good chance in front of goal but was unable to latch onto the pass sent his way and his shot scuffed well wide of the mark. On the 20th minute, Siena took the lead through a controversial goal as replays would show the goalscorer handled the ball before proceeding towards goal. Losing at home, the Rosanero needed to react quickly.

Several minutes later, Palermo thought they had drawn level as Kyle’s flicked on header was squared perfectly and then knocked in. However, the referee had stopped the play as Lafferty was called for a foul on the defender marking him. It was a fair decision. Yet, only a few minutes after that, Lafferty would score the equalizer in bizarre fashion. Palermo wingback Alen Stevanovic whipped in a cross that Siena’s goalkeeper came out to gather. However, the ball proceeded to bounce out of his hands and off the chest of Kyle Lafferty and into goal. Palermo were level despite the odd goal!

Lafferty was Palermo’s man of the match by some distance. Beyond the odd goal, he came close to scoring (and should have scored) on two more occasions. Were it not for the heroics of Siena goalkeeper Lamanna, the Northern Irishman should have had at least a brace, if not a hat-trick. Lafferty’s powerful header in front of goal was miraculously slapped out by Lamanna. Later in the first half, Kyle moved outside the box and let off a nice left-footed shot that kissed the post and hit the back of the diving Lamanna, who then gathered the rebound.

In the second half, Lafferty only had one clear opportunity but his shot ballooned over the crossbar. Palermo Coach Beppe Iachini subbed him off with just under 15 minutes left in the match in favor of Andrea Belotti. The scoreline did not change and Palermo were content to maintain their lead atop the Serie B table while drawing with Siena.


 Varese – Palermo

Kyle Lafferty was given his second start in a row, partnering up top with Paulo Dybala. The Northern Irishman had Palermo’s first opportunity of the game with a nice shot from distance – however, it was straight at the keeper.

There weren’t many chances for Kyle as Palermo went down initially before tying it up before halftime thanks to a goal from Franco Vazquez. Lafferty, once again, got into the mix with the opposition and ended up receiving a yellow card in the 53rd minute that meant he’ll be suspended for the club’s following match. It wasn’t his best game, but Palermo won nonetheless (thanks to another Andrea Belotti winner) and maintain a ten point lead on the top of the Serie B table.

Lafferty has done a very good job overall this season with nine goals in 28 league appearances. He also has a goal in two matches in the Coppa Italia. He’ll continue to see playing time and hopes to take his goal tally into double digits on the season. He has also committed himself to playing with Palermo should the team make it to Serie A. At this point of the season, it’s looking good for the Rosanero!



Is the Europa League dream over for Donadoni’s Parma?

Roberto Donadoni was still upbeat after last night’s 4-2 defeat to Roma. With statements like, Parma could have been more aggressive and that, with a full squad the game could have been different, it gave off the impression that this was merely a blip. Parma had been charging towards a Europa League spot but does Donadoni’s nonchalance hide a potential implosion.

Parma have been magnificent this season and have had fans and journalists comparing them to the great Parma sides of the 1990’s. Up until two weeks ago they sat proudly in sixth place in the table, eleven points ahead of Milan and unbeaten in the league since last November. Even that was to high flying Juventus.  They have been playing superb football and with players such as the marmite Amuari, Marco Parolo, the long forgotten Ezequiel Schelotto and ‘the big fish in the small pond’ Cassano,  it has come as a surprise. None the less this rag tag group has been making everyone stand up and take note on Donadoni and his dirty dozen.

When the Gialloblu welcomed Juventus to the Stadio Ennio Tradini many thought Juventus were in for a tough game but not many thought the Turin giants would fail to win. The ‘Old Lady’ did not let anyone down winning 1-2 but there was no panic in the ranks. Parma had acquired enough points to handle a blow from the runaway league leaders and would just have to recover against Lazio.

This is where the problems started as Donadoni’s consistent side outfit started to fall apart. In a bizarre 90 minutes Lazio won 3-2 in a match they tried very hard to let Parma back into. Donadoni bemoaned that Parma could have won easily if luck had gone their way and that their fate was still in their own hands if they beat Roma in the next match.

Parma stayed in Rome to play the last 79 minutes of the game called off earlier in the season. The cracks were perhaps starting to show and their normal measured approach that had deserted them against Lazio did so again. It was a deluge of goals (not rain) that engulfed the Stadio Olimpico this time and as the Gialloblu went down 4-2. Donadoni tried to stay bullish but could the problem be bigger then he makes out.

The next match for Parma is at home to inform Napoli, this is followed by a local derby against Bologna before they host Europa League challengers Inter. This will require some steel to get through this period and the points will be needed. They finish the season with an away trip to Cagliari before taking on in form Torino and Sampdoria. Should the fight go to the last day and they will face relegation stricken Livorno.

It is testament to Parma that after these three defeats they still hold sixth position. Donadoni has produced some superb football and if they can stop the rot then they still have a real chance. A win against Napoli is a tall order but it is possible, they beat them 0-1 away in November.

However it turns out for the Gialloblu they have brought pleasure to many who have watched them play this season. The fact that they are even being seriously compared to the great Parma side of the 1990’s is an achievement in itself.

By Richard Hall @Gentleman_Ultra

First published on Bleacher report by Richard Hall