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Joey Under Fire !!

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Impact owner Slams Bologna Players and Runs Gauntlet in Italy

Bologna FC v Atalanta BC - Serie A
Joey Saputo is feeling the heat in Bologna.
Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

The last seven days have been pretty eventful for Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo. First, he announced he would relinquish his position as President of his Canadian football club, then Sunday, he ran a gauntlet of angry fans at the Italian club he owns, Bologna FC 1909.

The fans’ anger is rooted in a 14-game winless run in Serie A, Bologna’s longest streak without a win since 1979. After 21 rounds of the Italian Championship they remain perilously close to the relegation trap-door.

Opportunity …

For Bologna Sunday’s game offered a great opportunity to put pressure on Empoli, just above the drop zone. Victory would have taken the Rossoblu above their Tuscan rivals on goal difference, but now Empoli can climb further away by winning the weekend’s last match at home to struggling Genoa, this evening. Should Empoli win, Bologna will be 4 points adrift from Udinese and safety.

For Frosinone, Sunday’s opponent, it was only their second Serie A win of the season, helped by a straight red card for Bologna’s Federico Mattiello in the 13thmin. Within 8 minutes the visitors were two goals ahead, Paolo Ghiglione scoring for the first time ever in Serie A and top-scorer, Camillo Ciano, adding a second. The scoring pattern of the first half was repeated after the break, Frosinone recording their biggest-ever away margin of victory (0-4) in Italy’s top flight.

Only 16,076 turned up at the 38,000 Renato Dall’Ara Stadium, and that must also be a concern.

Bologna FC v Frosinone Calcio - Serie A
Mattiello’s tackle on Francesco Cassata which reduced Bologna to 10-men in minute 13.
Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Players slammed …

In a twist, similar to an abysmal Impact performance against Philadelphia last season when he spoke to local radio, a furious, Saputo slammed Bologna’s players after the dismal performance in the post-match media conference.

It’s not customary for a club owner to host the “presser”, it’s more the domain of the head coach, but the President desperately needed to get some things off his chest.

“I am not accustomed to coming here and speaking to the media, but today I have to say some things and let-off some steam.”

“I know our directors are insulted a great deal by the fans, but as President I have to say that the team on the pitch today was pitiful. It was awful.

“I apologise to the Bologna fans who had to suffer through that and were subjected to this performance. I never would’ve expected to see something like this.

“I am disappointed, but above all it is unacceptable. I will have the opportunity to speak to the players, who must give much, much more.

“So far, I have been a President who did not criticize his team. I did everything to get the players in the right condition, so to see them play like this is something I cannot accept.

“I apologise to our fans. This is not the Bologna that I want to see, and I can tell you, it will change. It will change. Tomorrow we will make our decisions. Right now, I can only say that it will change.”

Inzaghi’s future … does he have one?

It may well be that coach Pippo Inzaghi does not survive in the wake of this latest set-back. Strong rumours exist around talks the club has conducted with Sinisa Mihajlovic over the last few days.

The Serbian appears to be hot favourite to take over, as he is a free agent after his ill-fated experience that never really began with Sporting CP.

‘Fundaction Privada Samuel Eto’o’ Charity Event: Red Carpet
Is Inzaghi’s time now up?
Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
Torino FC v Genoa CFC - Serie A
Serbian Sinisa Mihajlovic is favourite to take over, if Inzaghi goes ...
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Saputo when asked specifically about Inzaghi said, ”What will change immediately? We will make decisions on Monday. Another thing I do not want to do is make hot decisions. But things will change.”

”We cannot make big changes during the season, we have to make small changes to improve this path. The market is still open, and we want to invest in strong players and reinforce this team. We must do everything to not go back down to Serie B. I have not talked to Inzaghi yet, it was not my decision not to have him talk to journalists. I introduced myself because it is important that I send this message to our fans.”

Neither captain, and former Impact player, Blerim Dzemaili, nor potential Impact target Orji Okwonkwo featured in the game, although the Nigerian was an unused substitute.