The fog was thick, but sadly not thick enough that the small pockets of people who had bothered to turn up could not see what was going on.
From the stands cries rained down in ever increasing vitriol, “Caliendo Vaffancuolo,” “La Mamma di Caliendo é una puttana”. Whistles met the home team players every time they touched the ball and any successful pass made was met by ironic cheers. The atmosphere was toxic, and not just in the stadium, on social media mock funerals were being held before the match had even reached half time. Mock though these funerals may have been there was a real sense from those watching events unfold in front of them that a real one was coming down the tracks very soon.
The next day the Gazzetta di Modena certainly did not hold back in its appraisal of the team, “there is nothing left to be saved of this Modena, not the shirt, not the colours, not the team that has perhaps reached the lowest point of football that has ever been seen within the walls of the Braglia.” 104 years Modena fc have existed but you get the feeling from watching them play Pordenone on Monday night that the club will not see 105.
3-0 down before the first half was out, the second proved no more than a formality the only key narrative that remained was how incensed the home support would become at their team and President Caliendo. The anger and sheer hate however has not just exploded over night at Modena, nor is it down to this one single result. The truth of the matter is that the Gialloblu are a club that has been sick for several years now, sadly the treatment for this illness looks to have failed and the disease has spread to the heart.
Amazingly it was only in 2013/14 that the club finished fifth in Serie B but since then the drop has been stark. The following year ended in 17th and relegation to Lega Pro was only avoided thanks to a nail biting relegation play-out win over Virtus Entella. The following season saw the appointment of Hernan Crespo to the managers’ seat and with it a renewed sense of hope around the club. Crespo though struggled to work within the confines of the club and with players who were obviously nowhere near the standard that he was accustomed to.
Most surprisingly it was the team’s lack of ability to put the ball in the back of the net that would prove Crespo’s undoing. This coupled with severe financial constraints eventually saw the Argentine lose his job at the club, but not before a group of enraged ultras stormed a press conference demanding his removal. It was however only when he left the club that stories of how bad the financial situation around the Canarini really was. Indeed, it was Crespo’s wife who gave voice to the situation at the club when she claimed that for most of his tenure Crespo had worked for free due to lack of money.
Nevertheless, sacking Crespo was to matter little, Modena plummeted like a stone and eventually finished 21st, relegated down into Lega Pro. While relegation was galling enough in itself it proved twice as hard for the Modena faithful when they also had to look on at local rivals Carpi and Sassuolo playing at higher levels. Where only a few short years ago, Modena were kings of their province they had now fallen to a degrading third.
If a new dawn was hoped for down in Lega Pro, then fans were to be sorely let down. With those in charge at the club bigging up their promotion credentials at the start of the season it quite quickly became clear that the club was nowhere near the quality for anything of the such. 14 matches into the new season and the Gialloblu sit third from bottom in front of only the dismal duo of Mantova and Forli.
Monday nights defeat to Pordenone, their seventh of the year, finally saw things reach critical mass. Attendances have been free falling for years as interest and patience with the side has been eroded. Only just over 2000 turned up to watch the embarrassment the other night, 2000 in a stadium that can hold 20,000 plus. Still their anger could clearly be heard, with 99% of it being directed at club president Antonio Caliendo, who fans blame for destroying their club.
Outside the attacks on Caliendo’s character there was moments of faith by the Modena support, sporadic bursts of pride in their club. Yet it is hard to have pride in something that is being dismantled before your eyes. But maybe there is hope just yet, as a statement released to the club website on the 23rd November by Caliendo spoke of his great interest in hearing a press release from councillor Guerzoni about a group of entrepreneurs and their apparent interest in buying the club.
However still for now Modena remain a club with a knife hovering above its chest only just waiting to be plunged down with force.
Through the fog, they were hard to make out, but not so their defiance “Saremo sempre qui” they roared, we will always be here.