Italy’s star, SAFC’s underachiever. Where did it go wrong with Giaccherini?

How Jake saw Emanuele Giachherini
How Jake saw Emanuele Giaccherini

Sorry for the patchy appearance of new material here, John McCormick’s splendid efforts excepted. In the tetchy climate, I daren’t say what may, for most of the last week, have distracted some of us. Emanuele Giaccherini couldn’t always get a full game for Sunderland but stars for Italy at Euro 2016. Is it our fault or his? What on earth happens to so many players of quality once they pull on our shirt, Defoe being a class exception? Monsieur Salut tracks the Giaccherini days at Sunderland as viewed on these pages …

Emanuele Giaccherini’s arrival at Sunderland in August 2013, at £8m from Juventus of all clubs, was just the sort of fillip supporters needed. A proven quality player, a serving Italy international … what more did we want?

Well, there were those who question his commitment and effort. He didn’t seem able, often enough, to turn obvious pedigree into actual performance. And now, after his spell way on loan at Bologna, he’s collecting rave reviews for his performances for Italy, one of the truly eye-catching teams of the Euro 2016.

I just trawled through the archives and found relatively little we’d written about him. Cause and effect. We didn’t see enough of him and he didn’t always light up our lives when he did get on to the pitch.

August 2013 (Pete Sixsmith on the prep-season friendlies): We looked good against Spurs and decent against Manchester City but the emphasis appears to have been on team building and fitness. The signings are interesting; instead of scouring the relegated clubs, we’ve signed, among others, a current Italy international in Emanuele Giaccherini, the Dutch League’s top scorer, Jozy Altidore, and El-Hadji Ba, who has the shortest surname in our history. So, it could be a good season – or it could all go wrong. Who knows?

Sept 2013: guest piece (via one of those bookies; helps to pay the rent)
Di Canio has handed several of his new signings starts already – among them defenders Ondrej Celustka and Valentin Roberge, midfielders Cabral and Emanuele Giaccherini and the USA striker Jozy Altidore – but it’s fair to say few have managed to shine so far.

Sept 13 (League Cup defeat of Peterborough). Sixer again: After two misses, Emanuele Giaccherini scored with a clinical half-volley from a fine Lee Cattermole cross.

Nov 2013, after another of those fondly remembered SAFC 1-0 Man City games (Monsieur Salut): Wherever you looked around the pitch, Sunderland heroes came into view. Ki Sung-Yueng, cool and precise, epitomised the passing game Poyet appears have encouraged; Steven Fletcher, later Jozy Altidore, worked like soldiers alone up front; Vito Mannone staked a very strong challenge for the right to start ahead of Keiren Westwood in goal. But there were also sterling performances from Bardsley, Jack Colback, Emanuele Giaccherini and Larsson.

A few days later : Emanuele Giaccherini’s hopes of playing for Italy (in the 2014 World Cup) probably depend on him moving on from Sunderland.

A few days later still: Bravo Emanuele Giaccherini, all the same, for equalising – “smashing home” the ball as the Mail put it – in Italy’s 2-2 draw with Nigeria in last night’s friendlies ..

Jan 2014: after we narrowly beat Leeds in a cup match (Sixer):

Giaccherini is the only player to give us any tempo and that is why van Aanholt did so well in the first half. When the Italian tired after an hour, any tempo disappeared. The rest seem to think that probing ever so slowly at the opposition will eventually give up an opportunity or two. It doesn’t.

Feb 2014, a week before the League Cup final, thrashed 4-1 at Arsenal: (From Gus Poyet’s post-match e-mail) …
The three players that came on deserve credit. They came on when we were 3-0 down away from home, I bet they were thinking ‘thanks for that gaffer’, but they did their jobs and then it was a great finish from [Emanuele] Giaccherini for our goal.

Days before the final (Keir Bradwell on how to go about beating Citeh) Giaccherini deserves a place on form alone, and I’d like to see Borini play centrally more often. We may well be in for some surprise team selections, as Poyet has spoken about playing Emanuele Giaccherini in the week, saying: “He has got more opportunity for many, many reasons. The first is because he has played at the highest level with Italy so he can cope with the emotions and because he’s been pushing more lately. He knows a little bit more what we need from him and where I think he should be playing. I know where he wants to play as well so there’s a little bit more of a clear picture. He’s got a big chance. I’m sure that either starting or playing he will be part of the final. It would have to be really strange not to be part of it.”

And afterwards: Keir again, Giaccherini having been used as a 77th minute sub
Mislaid a few passes but got the ball forwards. Doesn’t have the pace we’d like, but did reasonably well.

And then after the abysmal surrender to Hull in the FA Cup 6th round:
Giaccherini had a good first half, although his second was below-par, like everyone else. I still see something in him, but today wasn’t his finest. He created some chances, but of a low quality and his effort waned with his performance. Underwhelming.

Yet more from young Keir, after Liverpool 2-1 SAFC:

I really like Giaccherini, but today he hardly influenced the game at all. I really would’ve hoped for more but he still made useful small contributions when he could.

~April 2014. Gus, after our survival run got under way in Man City 2-2 SAFC:
“We needed to take a risk and I knew we needed to make changes. I took the decision and today with the substitutions it worked well. [Emanuele] Giaccherini and [Ignacio] Scocco came on and they gave us extra belief and extra energy – credit to them.”

Keir hails his performance in Chelsea 1-2 SAFC:

Brilliant. Showed pure class with two excellent assists for Wickham’s goals. Like Scocco, if he was on the pitch longer he’d have a higher mark.

And goes on to detect a valuable late contribution at old Trafford (MUFC 0-1 SAFC):

Didn’t do an awful lot, but was still a welcome addition towards the end, calming things down.

The Keir ratings after SAFC 4-0 Cardiff had a 9/10 for the Italian:

Last week I said I’d not give high marks to substitutes, but it has dawned on me that Giaccherini is doing a brilliant job of being a “super sub”. A goal and an assist from the bench is incredible, a bit like his finish for our third of the day, slotting the ball past their ‘keeper.

Another guest piece … on the rights and wrongs of Giaccherini’s omission from Italy squad

“.. Being excluded from the 2014 World Cup came as a disappointment to Giaccherini who had shown enough quality in the final stages of the Premier League season to merit a place in Italy’s 23-man squad.”

And much more recently, at tzhe time of the January transfer window, Rob Hutchison on our not-very-good-record in the transfer market

Emanuele Giaccherini: What a signing, an established Italian signing for Sunderland on a long term deal in his prime. The gods have finally shined kindly on us. Or maybe not. Did we turn him into a rubbish player overnight, or was he completely unsuitable to the physical rigours of the Premier League? Gutted it never worked out for wor little Giacchi, but the chance of recouping any money of substance come the day of judgement is probably minimal.

Clearly then, a wasted talent/ Any other thoughts on Giaccherini’s limited Sunderland career would be welcome. Never suited? Too lazy? Wrongly used? Unlucky to be playing in a rubbish side? Have your say …

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

3 thoughts on “Italy’s star, SAFC’s underachiever. Where did it go wrong with Giaccherini?”

  1. Italy just equalized with a penalty against Germany. Brilliant quote on the Guardian’s game blog from Hubert O’Hearn (Canadian writer now resident in Ireland): “Somewhere, Lee Cattermole is watching this game of fouls and is thinking, ‘This is international football? Why haven’t I been called up?’ ”

  2. He’s a very good “workhorse” type of player -runs and runs all day. But also, while he’s not brilliant, he actually has a lot of skill as well. He wasn’t given a fair chance at Sunderland, as he was far too often misused. He was also way ahead, in thought and running off the ball, than our cumbersome midfield, so it must have been very frustrating for him. After his injury, our management just didn’t want to know him. It’s absolutely ridiculous that a player with his talent, and especially his work ethic, can’t get a game in a team as poor as ours was went we let him go. I’d have him back in a flash.

  3. I got the impression that none of our managers could find a system which would get the best out of him, given the limotatios of those around him.Good player wrong time for him to,be with us. Reminds me a bit of what happens with Marangoni

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