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Last season, watching Sassuolo was infectious and fun. They had the look of a team running, or swimming as far as they could as fast as they could and, by Christmastime, they could barely see the shore.

They slowed up a little after that (indeed, losing Boakye to the CAN didn’t help) but were so far clear that their spluttering and gasping for breath didn’t stop them.

This year, the Neroverde are swimming with the big fish and, to be honest, it’s been men against buoys a lot of the time.

That’s the problem with swimming as far as you can. You get so far and it’s fun, but when you stop, when you look around and take stock of where you are, you can easily find yourself out of your depth. Sassuolo are in that position now; not waving but drowning

They’re 1-0 down at Inter as I write this, the big fish continuing to eat them up and pushing them back towards the shallows of Serie B – just like the Dolphins of Pescara found last season.

I hope they don’t sink without trace; Eusebio do Francesco deserves better, Simone Missiroli deserves better, even Domenico Berardi deserves better despite (albeit briefly) abandoning the sinking ship for Juventus.

As is stands, Sassuolo are drowning, adrift from the places they know and without any propulsion of their own. It promises to be a long, painful and directionless season before they wash up on Serie Beach next season, cough up a lungful of water and try to swim again.

God speed, Neroverde.

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