Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Julian De Martinis On August - 2 - 2011

Serie A Complexity: Juventus’ Latest Signing Mirko Vucinic

Typical Mirko, it was inevitable wasn’t it? A big game player by design, scoring against one of the titans of modern day English football on the greatest club stage in the world. In fact, nearly every facet of that goal simply oozed of the Montenegrin, an epitome of the way he played.

It was his second of the night, and Roma’s third. On a chilly November evening at the Olimpico, everything seemed to be going well for Luciano Spalletti’s side after enduring a torrid beginning to their group stage match. A beaut of a Cicinho cross was met by a man seemingly always in the right place at the right time, Christian Panucci, to give the capital side their first against the run of play. Vucinic added a genius shot outside the box after typical Spalletti build-up involving quick flicks and deft touches from Matteo Brighi.

Forty-seven minutes into the match, and Roma were once again showing their panache against a big side.

A mentality best seen in none other than the Montenegrin. Playing him against a small side was often useless, like deploying an unmotivated shadow that simply couldn’t be bothered. Against a big team, however, Mirko tended to rise to the occasion far more often than not. A memorable strike in the 2-1 win over Manchester United in 2007 (Just don’t ask Romanisti about the return leg). 5 goals in 13 appearances against Milan. A total of 8 goals in 27 Champions’ League games, 11 of which he appeared as a substitute.

When Roma needed a talisman in the wake of Francesco Totti’s injury in early 2010, it was none other than Vucinic who ended the campaign with 14 goals to his name- his second highest ever seasonal tally. His performances in the Derby Della Capitale were nearly unrivalled as well, including a sensational brace against Lazio in the 09-10 season. Much like Roma itself, Vucinic was a titan against titans and a minnow against minnows, the two’s maddening genius/blackout qualities mirroring each other nearly perfectly.

Then again, John Obi Mikel shouldn’t have been so careless. A poor first touch deep in Roma’s half allowed the Montenegrin to sneak in from his left and snatch the ball. Turning around, Mirko dribbled in his usual fashion (caught somewhere between speed and languidness) as he ran the entirety of the pitch. His pace outmatched Mikel’s ability to atone for his sin, as he danced easily around the player’s sliding challenge near the Chelsea box. Only Petr Cech remained between Mirko and the net. One touch, and then another; he drew out the Czech ever so slightly before slotting it in at the near post.

He had done it again. Roma went on to win 3-1 on the night, and it was the Montenegrin who stole the headlines. The one who only seemed to perform well when he shaved- or was it when he didn’t?- with his often careless appearance reflecting his style of playing. It was by no means the prettiest, and it wasn’t always effective. But when it worked…

Somehow, nevertheless, his departure doesn’t come as a surprise. He gave to the club far more than anyone could have expected from a 23 year old striker from Lecce, although by his nature he didn’t seem particularly happy to be there. His agent claimed earlier this summer that something was “broken” at Roma. And perhaps something was, as his words recalled memories of the Montenegrin being booed off against Bologna in early 2009 and echoed recollections of his awful missed sitters against Palermo and Inter within the space of three days at the end of last season. When Juventus knocked on the Capital door with a bag full of 15 million Euros, there was only ever one outcome.

He now follows in the steps of John Arne Riise, Phillippe Mexes, and Jeremy Menez in departures from the capital club. It’s astonishing to think about: four talismans from the past three seasons no longer there. If there was ever any doubt as to the depth of the revolution currently being undergone by Thomas Di Benedetto and Jose Enrique’s side, it is surely gone now. Of course, questions remain about just how Mirko will fit into Antonio Conte’s side; if Juventus really need such a player when one of the side’s issues in recent time has been defeating the minnows and not the titans; if such a player is really necessary when Alessandro Del Piero, Alessandro Matri, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Amauri, Luca Toni, Fabio Quagliarella, Milos Krasic and Pepe are all vying for starting attacking positions. From the Juventus point of view, the acquisition raises as many questions as it answers, though knowing Mirko’s potential, should be successful nevertheless.

As for Roma, it is a bittersweet goodbye. The break is as natural as any, if losing such an important player can ever be considered natural. In the wake of the outgoing French and Montenegrin duo steps in Bojan Kirkic, Erik Lamela, and one other promised signing, to replace the goals and hopefully add a bit more consistency to their performances as well. In retrospect, it was such consistency of both form and passion that seemed to be missing from the Montenegrin.

Well, and one other thing, though admittedly on rare and special occasions: pants.

Julian De Martinis

Calcio, Azzurri, and Roma tifosi. Blogger, correspondent, podcast host (@LaMagicast). Lover of books, movies, wordplay, family, and a good cappuccino.

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  • David H

    As a Roma supporter, I can’t decide if this is good news or bad. He really is such a big game player, but when he’s off, he’s terrible.

    I supposed it’s better he go to the struggling Juve than Milan or Inter (if they were ever even interested,) though I imagine he may be regretting his choice come January, having acquired splinters in his backside.

    He’s only going to play if Matri, Quagliarella or Krasic can’t, & even then ADP may be in line ahead of him. And since Juve hardly have a packed schedule, those opportunities may not come around often, especially if he continues his poor form against poor teams.

    So I’ve talked myself into thinking this isn’t bad news for Roma, & will probably be another curious waste of money for the post-2006 Juventus.

  • Elaine

    I’m not sure Juve fans realize the quality they got in Vucinic. But Roma fans can only hope that should he score against them, he will leave his shorts on out of respect.

  • Ted

    how much do juve have to spend??? seriously…these guys spend so much money, more than any other italian club and achieve nothing.

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