Written by: Massimo Sampaolesi. Translated by: Carlotta Belluzzi
“We are like in autumn on branches the leaves”, wrote the poet Ungaretti while he was serving in a trench near the Courton woods, in France. The poem was then published by the Bolognese magazine La Raccolta, one of the most important literary magazines of the time. During the market transfer period, the mood is similar, albeit much less dramatic.
Every time this period begins, be it in the summer or in January, there risk of nervous breakdowns is always there. The whole Verdi kerfuffle is proof of what levels of drama can be reached, and how transient our idols are – for they are our idols only while they are wearing our jersey. And yet transient nature makes them, even if just for a moment, the perfect pillars for our hooliganism.
The current debate is focussed on whether Verdi should play at San Paolo, in Naples, or not. To me, the answer is yes: next week, Verdi will still be ours, he will still be our idol. And I do hope that the Neapolitan fans will not spare him from any hisses; the louder that sound will be, the easier it will be for us to understand how much they envy us. We are talking about sports-related envy, of course, but that is the core of what hooliganism is. Let us not fool ourselves – we know very well that at the moment, we are enjoying it all, and greatly so. That is because one of our best players will still be with us for a while, and also because we can show off our satisfied grins to those who once called us “nobodies”. That’s where the whole game lies – mockery and passing aches – both for the main characters (with what wit did Donadoni talk back to Marino!), and for us extras.
I shall now make use of the closing words of Marco Montanari’s Cercare il palo nell’uovo: “Sometimes the ball hits the woodwork, sometimes it scores a goal, but Bologna is what is always there”. Our attention is captured by the randomness of the game; sometimes it’s happiness, sometimes it’s an opportunity, sometimes it’s good luck, sometimes it’s bad luck. That’s the game. This uncertainty transcends our ambitions. I already could not care less about the final score of our upcoming match against Napoli (they have said that they do not need Verdi after all, as he’s not mature enough yet), because, to me, that match will only be one thing: a song. ‘Only we have him...Si-mo-ne...Ver-di!’
Everything else is fleeting – like leaves in autumn.