Roma, You Lucky Ducks

Dino Panato

So nine straight wins is based on luck, huh?

There is this burgeoning theory bounding around the football world that Roma is "lucky" to be in this position. That somehow, luck is the predominant means through which they have achieved this end. One centered upon the number of goals conceded, currently standing solely at a Biabiany dagger in the first half of the Parma fixture. One goal against, twenty-three for. That must be luck, right? Let's go ahead and settle this once and for all: Yes, AS Roma's league position is largely a result of luck.

They're lucky because no one wanted them. Those they coveted, those they lusted after like a hormonal schoolboy eyeing the long, leggy, buxom blonde goddess of the hallways, were uninterested. Or at best, Roma was Plan B. Or Plan Z. Or Plan Cyrillic Letter because they'd run out of Latin counterparts. To Pep, to Max, to Walter, to Manuel. They were all Plan B and down. There may be more, but we know those four names assuredly, meaning by mathematical prowess we can deem Rudi Garcia to be fifh choice at best. Fifth.

The others, they all chose bigger clubs, more prestigious clubs, and Allegri aside, a man whose stock is currently scouring the depths of the Mariana trench, they were arguably right to. Pep went to the best team in the world with resources to elicit a Bavarian blush. (He was never realistic but he was always their first choice.) Walter went to Inter, a historic side with a wealthy new owner on the way and a squad which was ready-made for his sort of tactics. Manuel chose City and oh-I'm-sorry-are-those-oil-drenched-bills-you're-flashing-in-my-face-I-forgot-what-I-was-talking-about. Anyway, he made a good decision too given the evidence at hand. Max....Max....well Max is an idiot. Milan didn't want him, the squad is a bunch of names and nothing else,  and he's proving himself to be an increasingly limited tactician with every passing week. A thousand stammered offerings of gratitude, sir.

Roma wasn't the belle of the ball. She was the ugly chick played by an incredibly hot actress that we're supposed to believe isn't attractive but if you give her a makeover by which they mean take off her glasses, slap on a slim dress, and undo her ponytail she suddenly looks like all of the Victoria's Secret models combined to have a baby and oh wasn't that hard. Except this one had a drug problem and daddy issues, so you couldn't just take her down to a spa for thirty minutes and cut to the DVD. No, they had to dig deep, roll up their sleeves, and get right down into the heart of this broken, broken soul that was Roma. Hell, they probably even called one of Rome's favored sons, Carlo Ancelotti, too. "One day, but not yet, love. Get yourself together first." Everyone passed. The unloved.

Then there was the Frenchman. Rudi was canned by Lille. Maybe the one in Belgium. Who the hell knows. But in order to get him, they had to get lucky. Lille deemed his cycle done. Everyone else deemed Roma not good enough. The two unloved found one another and formed the perfect marriage. A whole far more than the sum of its parts.

Max Allegri's self-respect is all that was needed and it would all be different.

So that's luck, but the journey they've traveled in these nine - and yes, it's only nine - matches? That's not luck. Daniele De Rossi steaming toward the goal line at full throttle is not "luck." Leandro Castan being in the proper position to save the day is not "luck." They're a function of quality, heart, and determination. The ball hitting the bar is partly resultant of luck, sure, but there's also space being closed down by a biblically good defensive center pairing and the return of the best defensive midfielder in football. The space attackers don't have to test Morgan, who saw about as much game ball as Gianluca Caprari in September, is not "luck." It's quality, mental and physical. Benatia, Castan, De Rossi, Maicon, Balzaretti and even Torosidis. They're damn good. Miralem Pjanic's defensive ascension is not "luck." Paying seventeen millions euros for Kevin Strootman was not "luck" - unless you'd like to count Marquinhos' transfer fee, with which I won't really quibble. (Especially after that performance against ASSE. Oof, Marcos.) The tracking back of the forwards, the workrate of Totti, Gervinho, and Borriello, are not luck. Okay, Alessandro Florenzi being born Alessandro Florenzi, a Simone Perrotta with skill, in Rome is luck, but we're allowed that one, no?

And it's not that collection of names responsible for this run, it's almost wholly one: Rudi. The man has somehow found a way to maximize the ingredients he was handed.

All of these things are a function of the attributes Walter and Rudi have combined to bring this club over the last six months and longer. That in itself is not luck. That Rudi's halftime monologues could have Shakespeare ceding his crown to write jingles for English Renaissance pudding pops or Oscar Wilde touching shore in New York to declare solely his inferiority is not luck. The Roma Whisperer is not luck. But that's not the story. The story is that Roma has him in the first place. Very few believed in Roma. Roma didn't even really believe in itself, and in the end she was ultimately saved from herself. Fifth choice at best. Fifth.

So people are saying Roma's been lucky. Yeah, Roma's been lucky. Really fuckin' lucky - they've got Rudi and a Baldini-less Walter and you don't.

Nanner nanner.

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