ROME, ITALY - JANUARY 08: Francesco Totti of AS Roma displays the message 'scusate il ritardo' on his t-shirt as he celebrates after scoring a goal from the penalty spot during the Serie A match between AS Roma and AC Chievo Verona at Stadio Olimpico on January 8, 2012 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Match Day 36
Chievo v Roma
Roma: 7th at 51 points, three games remaining
Chievo: 12th at 44 points, three games remaining
Last Match: Roma 2-Chievo 0 (January 8, 2012)
Roma travel to Verona four points adrift of the three way tie for third amongst Napoli, Lazio and Inter, all desperate for Serie A’s allotted Champions League spots. One thing Roma does not trail in, however, is controversy.
At this point, even the most ardent Enrique supporters, myself included, find their loyalty waning in the wake of the teams recent performances, if you can even call them that. Some clamor for his head, others plead for continued patience, but this divide does not appear to exist in the locker room. None other than the twin pillars of Roma, Totti and DeRossi of course, have buttressed the Enrique cause, at least publicly.
Totti, after touting the merits of the new regime, had this to say about Luis Enrique:
"Meanwhile, the Coach is a particular person, a loyal and honest man, he says what he thinks in his mind.
"You can calmly tell him what you think and he accepts everything, it is normal that first he listens and then we carry out the ideas.
"He is a person you can rely on forever."
So, at the very least, Enrique maintains the trust of the clubs most important player. Whether this is mere political correctness from Er Purpone, one cannot say. One can assume, however, that Enrique's playing record has bought him a great deal of respect and patience amongst the clubs more important players. How long that patience will last depends on, obviously, results.
Taking it a step further, Daniele recently bolstered the Enrique cause,
"I still maintain that he is one of the most talented coaches in the world," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He has the same aura about him as people like [Luciano] Spalletti], [Marcello] Lippi and [Fabio] Capello.
"But unfortunately he has also been very unlucky, and I will continue to stand here and defend him."
To his credit, Enrique has seldom deflected blame from anyone but himself. Meanwhile, the man upstairs, Baldini, claims that Enrique needs further time to implement his particular brand of calcio.
"Luis Enrique has great quality and needs at least another year to prove it by constructing something here. We firmly believe in him and he believes in the project, despite the difficulties we have run into."
So for the time being, we wait. Meanwhile, Enrique is taking the game-by-game approach, preferring to discuss his future, of which he is 100% sure, at the close of the season. What that might be, we can only speculate: will Baldini's clamor for patience win out or will Enrique resign?
What this all amounts to is a team clouded with controversy, not to mention an atrocious away record, heading north for a critical match. Fortunately, the Flying Donkeys aren't exactly setting the world ablaze, having been blanked four straight matches, which certainly bodes well for a Roma squad without its first choice keeper.
Amid all this uncertainty there are three life-or-death points at stake. Nothing short of a win will matter and wouldn't you know it, Enrique does not like draws, which is evident by the fact that Roma only have 6 draws this season, which is dead last in Serie A.
Its been an all-or-nothing season, to say the least.
DE ROSSI Daniele
VALDES J. Angel
*Note: Due to some scheduling issues, there may or may not be a separate Match Day thread. If not, feel free to use this post to rant and rave during the match. If there is, obviously you can ignore this note.