Straight from the dark heart of Italy
As debuts go you cannot get much better than scoring two goals and winning a penalty to fire your new club to a comeback victory - so take a bow Giampaolo Pazzini.
Inter were trailing two-nil at home to Palermo at the break, so there was little for Leonardo to do but return to his coaching roots: take off a full-back for a midfielder and throw three upfront, with Pazzini replacing the support-striker Coutinho.
‘Pazza Inter’ (Inter Crazy) is the official club song, so of course the first syllable of the new man’s surname was ready to hit the newsstands on Monday morning: 'Inter Pazzesca' (Inter go crazy) trumpeted La Gazzetta dello Sport with the rest of the dailies duly following suit with their own variant on the theme.
It has been a rare sight indeed to see a new signing in an Inter shirt, but all of a sudden new coach Leonardo has been handed a trio of them: the aforementioned Pazzini, Andrea Rannocchia and Houssine Kharja who both arrived from Genoa.
Rafa Benitez had pleaded in vain for the same number of new arrivals and having been rebuffed, such recent transfer activity suggests that nothing in the world of Massimo Moratti and that included a World Championship was going to save the Spaniard.
Moratti kept claiming that there was no money to spend and that the squad was fine the way it was, but the €12 million plus Jonathan Biabiany to Sampdoria - and depending on what value you put on the French winger that amount comes to €12.5m or €24m – is the bargain of the transfer window.
And not just that – he is Italian (hooray), has an annoying goal celebration (boo), is only 26. He has also scored over 100 goals during a career that has taken him from Atalanta - where he burst on to the scene with Riccardo Montolivo, to Fiorentina - where the pair continued their partnership, and most recently Sampdoria - where he formed a prolific partnership with Antonio Cassano.
Wearing the number seven shirt, last seen on Ricardo Quaresma but
more productively on Luis Figo, Pazzo bounded on to the pitch along
with the other last-minute arrival from the city of Genoa, Kharja, to
lead the cavalry charge on the Palermo goal.
goes it was all pretty predictable: the new signings combined to get
their team back into the game, the opposition missed a penalty. The new
striker scored his second. And then the leading man, in this case
Samuel Eto’o, sealed the victory from a spot-kick after the new boy had
been fouled as he ran on to a ball from the other new man - and so on
and so on. Oh yes, and the returning goalkeeper made a stunning save
with his foot to deny a late equaliser.
Breathless entertainment indeed, and matches like this only strengthen Leonardo’s position – who needs Jose Mourinho’s pouting mug staring from the sidelines as his team grind out results when dashing Leo’s men can demonstrate the same heart but throw in a bit of fun as well?
The result ensured that the defending champions did not fall any further off the pace set by AC Milan, who crafted a routine win at Catania despite having Mark Van Bommel sent off on his league debut.
At this rate the Dutchman will spend more time in the stands than on the pitch during his five month stay at the Rossoneri.
The midfielder picked up two yellow cards for what he believed were no more than routine fouls and despite being something of robust tackler the competitive midfielder was only ever sent off four times in the Bundesliga.
He will to learn quickly that Serie A referees allow no room for leeway when it comes to a late challenge regardless of its intent. Alexis Sanchez also suffered the same fate at Juventus on Sunday evening but by then the Chilean had dispatched the home side to another dispiriting defeat – but trying to sort the Old Lady out would drive anyone mad so we will leave the day to Crazy Heart Pazzini.
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