As some may know, Shabani Nonda is on the verge of being shipped out to (insert unnamed mid-table Premiership club here). That leaves Mirko Vucinic as the lone backup for Francesco Totti. In itself, this is somewhat questionable. In the event that Spalletti decides to play a two striker system, or something happens to one of the two, there is zero backup. More so, despite Spalletti favoring just the one striker system, there is just one backup for the entire forward line.
One of the main problems is Mirko's relatively new role as a left winger. This leaves nary a striker specific backup, and a guy just waiting to fill in for Totti when he needs a breather or he can't physically cart himself to the Olimpico. Nobody really questions Mirko's ability to be second in line behind Francesco. I think Mirko has shown that, while he doesn't have the playmaking skills, his ability on the ball is adequate to be able to drop back at least a little and allow others to overlap as Totti does. Only time will tell. But what happens when Mirko can't play?
Yes, Ludovic Giuly can backup, but he is much more suited to a trequartista or wide role rather than in Totti's prima punta duties. His finishing has left much to be desired this summer, anyway. Mauro Esposito can also supposedly play up top also, but at what point does this transition from backup to patchwork? Patchwork may work against the likes of Siena and Catania next season, but it certainly won't cut it in the Champions League nor against the big boys of Serie A. Anyway, Mauro is more of a RF/LW than a true striker anyway, and more suited to a 4-3-3 striker situation than the numero uno in a 4-2-3-1. We also can't forget Mancini either, but he can also be lumped into the category "break glass in case of emergency."
From a strict body standpoint, the worry is what happens in the cataclysmic event that both Vucinic and Totti are injured/suspended for a few games or longer. I suppose Spalletti would have to rethink tactics, but I would be much more comfortable with Shabani Nonda up top as an established striker rather than Esposito or Giuly, both better suited to wings. Not to mention someone who could actually leap to meet one of those many crosses coming in from the wings. Apart from comedic value, of course.
Obviously, I do hope Shabs sticks around unless they can get enough money to make a difference in the search for defensive reinforcements (highly doubtful). The question is how much playing time is he willing to forfeit? His contract is up at the end of the season and he'll be playing for a nice fat paycheck. Spending time behind The Chosen One and the recently dubbed Legend in the Making probably isn't all that appealing or that promising for future employment.
I believe it was the right move to send both Keivan "I'm the next Luca @#$%ing Toni" Zarineh and Stefano Okaka Chuka out on loan. Zarineh, despite his claims as The Second Coming (which happened both before and after his signing - no shortage of self-confidence there), still doesn't have much of a track record even in Serie C1/C2. And as the old standbys may know, I'm a big fan of Okaka Chuka, which isn't exactly unwarranted, and felt that despite his age, he could've had a major impact this year if he stuck around (physical anomaly). Okaka Chuka needs to play as much as possible and develop, and within a few years Spalletti will have a whole host of new problems to worry about.
The smart idea is to either keep Shabani around or go out and get a cheap, reliable third stringer at 11:59p on August 31st. However, not sure how feasible that is. It has become quite evident Rosella & Co. need at least 6-7 months to begin preliminary transfer negotiations. And from a personal standpoint, it would be best for Shabs to find somewhere else to hang his hat this season.
In the end, should Totti and Vucinic both go down for long periods of time I think we may see a no striker system again. Who I would choose to man Totti's responsibilities role in that case? Just guess...Alberto Aquilani. My mind went immediately to him for a flurry of reasons, and not because I'm a nut-hugger (alright, maybe). We all know he filled in well for Totti after The Break a few years ago. However, it's his diverse and highly talented skill set that could allow him to fill in up top for Francesco. Who on Roma could fill in for Totti's responsibilities better than Alberto? The ability to drop back, take time on the ball, allow the runs to overlap (especially Panucci Overlaps), use his bag of tricks, dole out the appropriate passes and then follow up the play into the box by setting himself up to score goals. He may not be Titi Henry when it comes to out and out striker finishing skills, but he's certainly more than adequate and better than some of the options we have seen thus far this summer. I won't delve too far into the specifics, but I'm sure it's not too difficult to see how well he would adapt in an overlapping system. Then again, maybe I'm biased.
Welcome to Alberto Aquilani Nut-Hugging Week. Perfect segue, though. I was going to release my season preview over the next three days, with Forwards being today's section - forthcoming.
Your Daily Cicinho Update:
Finally, Fabio Capello and I are in agreement:
Fuck off, Real. Might happen. Might not. Now Cicinho has been included in a package for Arjen Robben, but Cicinho reportedly has no desires take a step down in leagues to go to England and drink tea in bad weather. Whatever. At this point, everything points to it being much better to just walk away and regroup. Either that or somebody get some scandalous blackmail info on Ramon Calderon, scumbag that he is I'm sure it wouldn't be all that difficult. Hey, maybe Roma could rehire Don Fabio in a consultancy role for the project...
* - EDIT: Prade and Cristina Mazzoleni ("The Closer") have now left for Madrid. Sounds promising, but so didn't Cuba Gooding Jr's career. Who knows.
Hump Day Stuff:
I) Valencia Fullback Target of the Day: This time it's Miguel, the attack-minded RB from Portugal. I'll be the first to admit I always question media reports about a potential target when the team (Roma in this case) has expressed interest in one of said target's teammates. It honestly appears to be one of those reporter's "I heard Executive X from Roma contacted Valencia. They just got off the phone with Real Madrid. That must mean they didn't get Cicinho. Therefore, I will put two and two together and deduce that they must be after Miguel, a player of the same position at Valencia."
Is it legit? No clue. Could be. Sound logical? No. Everything has said Cicinho is a luxury and being pursued only because he would fit absolutely perfectly into The Grand Imperial Poobah's system. Plus, how much is Miguel going to cost? Valencia has been known t be afflicted with Realmadriditis when it comes to player valuations in the past (Francesco Tavano at a firm 10m? Please). How willing is Valenica to let go of him? Don't see it happening.
Also, you don't suppose this may have been a ploy by Rosella to say "Hey, Real, wake the @#$% up or we'll go get someone else and you'll be stuck with 46 unhappy fullbacks on the roster with nowhere to sell them"? Probably not, sounds too logical.
II) Manuel Blasi has joined Napoli, which eliminates them from the kinda-sorta-maybe race for Matteo Brighi. He'll stay...today. Tomorrow? He may leave and join the circus.
III) Despite being the reason for Roma's only preseason win against Frosinone, Edgar "Burritos" Alvarez is likely headed elsewhere next season. He may even head back home, to play in the, uh, Honduran top flight? Not a clue, although I suppose he'd be even faster there for all those homemade burritos.
IV) Aleandro Rosi on loan? Maybe, in the event that a RB does come and Marco Casssetti stays, that right hand side is absolutely stacked. No need to stunt his growth by leaving him on the pine the entire season. He has a long Roma future ahead of him and needs to develop accordingly. Right now, the three teams being mentioned are Chievo, Livorno and Reggina, although Udinese has been mentioned often in the past. But the last thing we need is Pietro Leonardi corrupting him with his insanity.
V) Gabriel Heinze isn't happening. I'd say stop dreaming but he's really not good enough to elicit "dreaming". Stop wishing fervently.
VI) It's a good thing Marco Andreolli got injured in the U-21 friendly yesterday, because the defensive depth chart was starting to bustle and there were too may many guys for too few positions.
No clue how long he's out. September could get real rough real quick. And Christian Panucci may actually have to play those 50-60 games this season. Real promising.
VII) Maurizio Zamparini has shocked the world by stating Roma is the favorite on Sunday. No shit, huh. Somebody recently told me the grass was green-ish, too. Who knew?
I don't know which is more surprising, that this is actually news or that Zamps made a logical and intelligent decision.
VIII) Apparently The Don Doni got wind of Alberto Aquilani Nut-Hugging Week and decided to join in on the fun by inserting him into his starting XI for today's friendly against Hungary, in preparation for the game against the Frenchies in a few weeks.
It's supposedly being said to be a 4-2-3-1 and he'll be starting as trequartista behind Luca @#$%ing Toni. But channel 4 also has Pippo Inzaghi in the lineup. If I see Pippio line up on the wings I may have to start rooting for Hungary and/or poke my eyes out with a spork. Oh, and it's not a "B" lineup either - far from it, in fact:
Azzurri: Buffon; Oddo, Cannavaro, Materazzi, Zambrotta; Gattuso, Aquilani, Pirlo, Quagliarella, Inzaghi; Toni.
If Aquilani starts against France I don't know what I'd do. Probably do one of the heel clicks like he's got going on up there. But it would be a bold statement to say the very least.
* - You have no idea how pissed I am I can't watch this.