Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
Roma plays tomorrow. This is stupid and clearly, it's Luis Enrique's fault. No really - had Roma ventured into Europe, they wouldn't be having this "issue" we'll call "Week 11." So thanks once again for no Europe and nine months of backpasses to Gabby @#$%ing Heinze.
And thus it's Torino on Monday.
American ownership. Monday Night 'football.' Someone toss me a Big Mac and adult-onset diabetes to close it all out.
I'm watching Fiorentina right now. I watch Fiorentina nearly every week, given Serie A's penchant for featuring Roma in singular game slots for no other reason than my aggravation. I also have well-placed cameras outside Luca Toni's home, but that is neither here nor there. More so, I look forward to watching Fiorentina. More than Roma, actually, if I can be honest, not simply because they're good, but because they play an incredibly aesthetic yet smart football. They've conceded more than two goals exactly twice this season: away to Napoli and Internazionale. They're fun to watch on nearly every level, and they're good. They're better than good, really. And in watching them, I've realized one thing:
I was wrong. I was incredibly wrong about Montella when he left. He didn't seem ready at the time, and it's quite clear that not only was he ready, but the new Roma threw away the best thing it had going for the spine-tingling allure of becoming Le Nouveau Barca. Or whatever the @#$% it is in Spanish. But then I don't get paid to make decisions like these, so I don't quite feel all that bad. Harumph.
I do love Zeman, and I'm not so blind as to ignore that he was hired partially with the idea of failure in mind. They knew this was going to be a transition phase for Roma, that a scudetto is a long way off as they cut costs and balance the budget, bringing in the youth core which will need time, nurturing and perhaps even a bubba or two before this club is ready for anything substantial run in the Champions League and beyond. Zeman, in turn, was partially the bubba for the fanbase, allowing us to suckle on some raucous football, the highs of which will allow us to forgive the mess on the whole. It's a little bit of whiskey to the baby to soothe the teething pains which simply can't be avoided. It was, from a business perspective, a smart move, if in some ways it was conceding defeat before the war had begun.
But they've had two opportunities to do the right thing. Both times they have failed. Not only that, but Vincenzo Montella was already Roma's coach for all intents and purposes. He was in-house. He was a walk down the corridor away from, "Here's your renewal. See you on Monday." Hell, they didn't even need to outlay the cash on one of those bitchin' welcome bags they hand out and I can't seem to find on eBay. Couldn't Svedkauskas use the cash?
The problem is less that Zeman is here and more that for the second year in a row, they have brought in a coach for which the entire philosophy of the club needs be based around a specific system. This means tactical changes, personnel changes, philosophical changes, muscular changes, ch-ch-ch-changes, et cetera. The players brought in exclusively for Enrique have been jettisoned in favor of those brought in for Zeman, in some regards. Would Tachtsidis be anywhere but on loan to Siena or Lecce under a normal coach? Please. Would Michael Bradley be doing anything but wondering if he's Primavera eligible if Roma's system didn't demand two runners and Daniele De Rosa Parks refuses to get up off his ass and do what's asked of him? Nope.
There is no continuity but fracture, a constant reworking, rejigging of the entire system, confusing for us, more so for the players. There is no mild change here, slight tweak there, 'oh let me just nudge that to the left a little' elsewhere. Everything is Project Manhattan: Roma Style. Everything is done on a massive scale. Everything has been change on an unnecessary level.
One day we may look back at the Zeman tenure as worthwhile solely for Erik Lamela's rise to superstardom. Or perhaps giving Florenzi the chance impossible to dream under nearly any other coach. Or the stones to throw Marquinhos in the starting eleven and never look back but to get him the rubber bands for his braces.
But perhaps it's worth noting that the greatest talent Roma had at its disposal when the new regime took over was an impeccably dressed former bomber on the sidelines, and they threw it all away for the fancy young thang from down the street. Twice. Even when one of those fancy young thangs smells like Marlboros unfiltered and moth balls.
Enrique was a mistake, that much is assured. And I'm not saying Zeman was a mistake independent of other considerations, but not hiring Montella was a mistake. Twice. Because not only did they throw away the best young coach in Serie A, they threw away the narrative, too. A narrative sitting in house, waiting only for the men upstairs to hand him a pen and some paper, because the story was already writing itself.
Fiorentina is everything Roma should be. In fact, they're everything this new Roma could be, and on a fraction of the budget. But worse, they might now be everything Roma was already becoming.
Oh, and Daniele Prade throws a couple of middle fingers in the air too.