Do you know what shingles are? The disease, not the roofing material. I ask because, as a 16-year-old, I did not. For the record, shingles are a viral infection in the varicella-zoster family; it’s basically chicken pox, but focused on a single part of your body and way more concentrated. The Mayo Clinic lists some of the symptoms as “pain,” “burning,” “a red rash,” and “fluid filled blisters that crust over.” Also, this is probably a good time to mention that you shouldn’t be reading this over breakfast.
So, if you were/are a really dumb 16-year-old (hi), seeing half of your body erupt in these weeping red sores is pretty goddamn horrifying. One day you’re a healthy, surly, run-of-the-mill teenager, and the next you’re like something out of a Caravaggio painting about lepers. It’s not until your parents see you without a shirt after a week or so of this and exclaim, “What the fuck are those?” that you go to a doctor and learn that your body is capable of betraying you: you can contract shingles from nothing more than high levels of stress.
As a 16-year-old athlete, this was one of my first real brushes with mortality. My body, which I thought I knew very well and which allowed me to do stuff in various athletic pursuits, had suddenly, without any warning, betrayed me. This thing that I had spent several years perfecting turned out to be a lot less than perfect, given that it was full of blisters and stuff. It was a singularly jarring moment. Also, junior prom was that week and I wasn’t sure how to tell my cheerleader date that I couldn’t make it because I’d developed a condition frequently seen in senior citizens and rarely in anyone else.
The purpose of this story is not just to gross you out (although if you’re grossed out, that’s also okay). The purpose is to illustrate what it’s like to be a fan of a football team, particularly a team like Fiorentina: you think you know everything there is about the club, from the youth players to the senior side to the coaches to the management. You know, down to every painful detail, what the side’s strengths and weaknesses are. Like Cassandra, you foresee every disaster, every problem, every triumph that could be diverted or achieved through a few, cheap, eminently reasonable moves in the transfer market.
And, just like a teenage The Tito, you’re wrong. This thing that you’ve spent so long studying has a life to which you are not privileged and about which you know nothing. And when the team doesn’t pick up a talented veteran on a Bosman, or ignores some young prospect in favor of Cyril fucking Théréau, or just generally refuses to pass the ball around and create chances rather than playing like some bizarre Italian fever dream from Charles Reep, it feels like your own body betraying you. “I’ve spent all this time,” you think, “And I’ve invested all this energy, and I deserve better than this.”
Nowhere is this more apparent than during the mercato. “How is it so hard to make a deal for Marko Pjaca, or Mario Pašalić, or Domenic Berardi?” Or, if you prefer, “How hard is it to sell Maxi Olivera, or Vincent Laurini, or Cyril Théréau?” Either way of thinking is a mistake. Because Stefano Pioli and Pantaleo Corvino know more than we do. They’re watching these players. They have reports on these players. They have seen more of this business than any of us can imagine. So when they decide to stand pat or pick up an inconsistent player on loan, we howl and gnash our teeth, but they’re working with a lot more information than we have. It sucks. It makes football not fun. It’s stressful. It’s enough, in fact, to make you break out in shingles.
Fiorentina were linked to Basel forward Dimitri Oberlin last week. We simply don’t buy it.
Andrea Della Valle sat down for an interview in Moena last week and came so, so close to doing a good job and not ruffling any feathers. But yeah, he went ahead and ruffled them real good.
We’re pleased to announce the arrival of another talented, hardworking, and hopefully not totally-redundant midfielder in Christian Nørgaard. Hi Christian!
In the penultimate tuneup at Moena, the second side beat the tar out of traveling academy team Real Vicenza.
In the final Moena game, Fiorentina took on Serie B Venezia and lost 0-1, but we really don’t care since the match was played in a swimming pool and nobody got hurt. Well, except for some goddamn stupid fans who got in a fight ahead of the match.
Maybe Valentin Eysseric is returning to France, and maybe he’s not. We don’t think it’d be smart to let him leave, though. All we can say is that nobody knows.
TAS decided to overturn UEFA’s ban on AC Milan playing in the Europa League. That leaves Fiorentina out in the cold, and it’s another instance of the injustice and frustrations that come with modern football.
How goddamn awful are shingles?
This poll is closed
It’s just chicken pox that makes you want to be dead. Can’t be that bad.
Comment of the week
Mike-R dug up a really wonderful little nugget about Stefano Pioli, who is an all-around decent dude. Thanks Mike-R.
That’s it for this week, folks. Try to floss a little bit better.