Sinisa Mihajlovic has been sacked as Torino’s head coach and replaced by former Napoli, Inter Milan and Watford boss Walter Mazzarri following the club’s Coppa Italia exit at the hands of city rivals Juventus.
Mihajlovic refused to speak with the media following a 2-0 defeat on Wednesday night, and Torino confirmed at midday on Thursday that he had been sacked.
“Torino Football Club announce that Sinisa Mihajlovic has been relieved of his duties as coach of the first team,” a statement on the club’s official website reads. “Thanks go to Sinisa and his staff for their efforts and passion shown over these 18 months with the Granata.”
Later on Thursday, Torino announced that new head coach Mazzarri, who left Watford last May, would take charge of training at Filadelfia, ahead of Saturday’s league visit of Bologna.
Torino are 10th in the Serie A table following a run of just one win from eight games.
Serbian coach Mihajlovic had been hired by Torino in May 2016, replacing Gian Piero Ventura, who later was confirmed as head coach of Italy. The first half of the 2016-17 season produced the most points in Urbano Cairo’s 13-year era as club president, but they fell away towards the end of the season to finish ninth.
They started this season with high expectations, but despite losing only four of their 19 games so far, their ten draws mean they are five points behind sixth-placed Sampdoria in the hunt for European football next season.
Mihajlovic was sent off after venting his anger toward the referee when Juve’s second goal, scored by Mario Mandzukic, was validated after inspection by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Sami Khedira appeared to foul Afriyie Acquah in the build-up to the goal, and Mihajlovic watched on with a smile as referee Daniele Doveri went to view the incident himself on a pitchside monitor, convinced that he was going to rule the goal out.
Instead, Doveri validated the goal and dismissed Mihajlovic after he remonstrated with him on the touchline.
“Sinisa’s too frustrated to talk about it, so he’s sent me here to talk about it instead,” said his assistant Attilio Lombardo, who took Mihajlovic’s place at the postmatch news conference. “It’s best we just try to talk about the game because if we start to talk about that incident, we’ll be here all night.
“If you look at it, it’s quite clear that Acquah touched the ball and then he was run over by Khedira. I can’t understand what they are looking at when the VAR is used. I have no idea how the referee managed to see the opposite to what everybody else has seen, and I think you all agree with me now.”
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri steered clear of the argument, saying: “I have not seen the incident again, and don’t want to comment on the VAR because it’s an anomalous situation.
“I’d like just to underline, however, that despite making seven changes compared to last Saturday, all of my players interpreted the game well.
“We risked a bit to start with, when we were a bit sleepy and they were good on the break, but it was a different game in the second half and we had plenty of chances, so I’m pleased with how we’ve done.”
Juve’s second goal midway through the second half effectively killed Torino off, and it spelled the end of Mihajlovic’s 18-month reign in charge of the Granata.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport and the Turin-based Tuttosport, he was informed by the club’s sporting director Gianluca Petrachi in the early hours of Thursday morning that he had been relieved of his duties.
Meanwhile, Hellas Verona have been punished for the racist chanting of a large group of their fans during Juventus’ 3-1 win at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi last Saturday.
According to a disciplinary statement published by the Lega Serie A, “supporters of Hellas Verona located in the Curva Sud section, amounting to around 3,800 (of the 6,400 located in that area), were responsible, in the fifth minute of the first half, of expressing racially discriminatory chants for the duration of around ten seconds in the direction of Juventus player [Blaise] Matuidi.”
Because it is the first incident involving fans in that area of the stadium to occur this season, a one-game closure will be suspended and enforced in the event of a repeat in the next 365 days. The club have been fined €20,000.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.