The Year in Review, Part One: Winter 2013

Gabriele Maltinti

Year-in-Reviews, love 'em or hate 'em, here comes another one. In the coming days, we'll take a look back at life in the Chiesa di Totti during 2013. First up, a glance back at winter 2013.

Year-end reviews, best of lists, what we learned, best dressed,  they said what!? etc. etc. These are all terribly generic ideas to which you've already been exposed--inundated, more likely--the past few weeks. By now you probably know who "wore it best", what 2013's top tech- trends were, and that the good folks at Target treat your financial information with the utmost respect. And, yes, we get it; people love Jennifer Lawrence (we really do), Miley Cyrus shocked house moms from coast-to-coast, and millions of thumbs were bruised crushing candy on mobile phones the world over.

Well, guess what? Here's another year-in-review for you, CdT style...deal with it. Since this is the slow time of year, we'll break it up a bit.

First up, Winter 2013, better known as, the Death of Zemanlandia.

January

We started off New Year's Day with a look at the best of Zemanlandia 2.0. It's worth a second glance, if only to see visual evidence that Panagiotis Tachtsidis actually took playing time from Miralem Pjanic and Daniele De Rossi. True story.

While it seems somewhat foolish now, we examined what, at the time, seemed like Roma's improving fullback situation:

The rise of Ivan Piris has thrown a wrench into what seemed a glaring 'need' position. Not only has he thrived, but there is plenty of cover in that Taddei is a capable backup, as well as the fact that Balzaretti can play on the right - where his left-footed self might even be a better crosser (badaboom) - with Dodo giving everyone fluctuating racing hearts and dyspepsia with his kamikaze solo runs from the back. Basically, their negotiating position is strengthened and they can hold out til the summer for some capable competition, a la Jung, which should be the goal at this point - neither a starter nor backup, but simply someone to compete for that spot with Piris. If a RB does land, expect Rodrigo Taddei to be unceremoniously Pek'd.

It really has been a strange year, hasn't it? There was once a time, some 11 months ago, when Ivan Piris was seen as viable option and Rodrigo Taddei was nearly sent to the scrap heap. Shudder the thought.

Well, we know how that worked out. Piris is "playing" for first place Sporting Lisbon--making only two appearances through 14 matches--while Taddei turned up this season with a crew cut, further cementing himself as Willem Dafoe's doppelganger; well, at least Platoon-era Willem Dafoe.

January also saw the unceremonious arrival of Vasilis Torosidis, the first of several injury problems for Mattia Destro, and our somewhat objective look at Michael Bradley that, among other things, claimed "Bradley is not a franchise player; he has a valuable, albeit hard to qualify, skill set that all teams require. He will rarely be the reason Roma win, but he'll seldom be the reason they lose."

I don't think we were too far off in that assessment. As we saw on Sunday, when Bradley is given a specific, defensive role, he performs quite well.

As far as news stories were concerned, January 2013 was rather uneventful. Franco Baldini and Walter Sabatini brought in an overlooked and underutilized transfer, Roma dropped two, drew two, and advanced in the Coppa Italia, and Maarten Stekelenburg came within a whisker of being sold to Fulham.

February

The month with 29 days every four years was marked by one rather large story, the defenestration of Zdenek Zeman, ousted after failing to recapture the magic of his first tour through the Eternal City.

The appointment of Zeman was always contentious, with the factions dividing along a pretty simple line; his 90 minutes of hell approach was either too naïve to succeed this time around, or the precise jolt Roma needed to take the league by storm. Z-Land 2.0 was a quick six month jaunt through Serie A, the failings and consequences of which Chris summed up quite brilliantly:

There is an incredible amount of failure at the very top here. If you want to win now, fine, buy the players to win right now; players with a little bit of experience and some quality to boot, but it ain't going to be cheap in fees or wages. If you want to win tomorrow, spend the money allotted on wages on transfer fees for youthful, unfulfilled talent. The latter is what they did, nabbing talent and filling in around them on the cheap. They then brought in the coach to get them to win tomorrow, and fired him when he didn't win today....While the suits will tell you the personnel is bought irrespective of the man on the sidelines, done so with the singular philosophy which will see Roma into its next stadium, there is bound to be yet another summer of turnover. They have hit the nail on the head on a few - Marquinhos, Lamela, Destro and Castan should be guarantees for years to come so long as they can ward off bigger clubs - but a lot of changes are about to happen yet again.

It's true, much like his American counterpart before him, Bill Parcells, Zeman was forced to cook the meal without buying the groceries. While it's all well and good to seek out a man with a blueprint, if you don't purchase the proper equipment, the project is destined for failure, which, in the sporting sense, meant another summer of turnover. Fortunately for us, that upheaval has (finally) been fruitful.

As far as ZZ's immediate replacement, Aurelio Andreazzoli, was concerned, we'll revisit the sage words of Jonas:

I have the feeling Andreazzoli is less coach but more caretaker than both. He isn't ‘real' if you know what I mean. Play with formations, keep all players happy, say nice things about them and the staff, praise and work in silence. Simply put: do what the management says and keep things doable and in control until June when makeover no3 after 2011 and 2012 will commence and then head back into the black hole of being an assistant. He'll basically just disappear in the summer and with all due respect for the man, that's probably the smartest thing to do.

That is almost, to a tee, how it played out. AA kept things interesting; he took down Juve, pushed Roma through to the Coppa finale, and even managed to restore some of the camaraderie that was missing during Zeman's five months at the helm, but, by and large, his job was simply to exist.

The calendar's shortest month was long on intrigue, that's for sure.

March

Francesco Totti warded off the Ides of March by scoring his 225th career goal, tying Gunnar Nordhal for second all-time.

The club itself made a bit of history, of sorts, penning a 10-year deal with Nike; the first steps in what I'm sure they hope is global domination, and, let's face it, simply a shirt that stands up to more than five washes.

March also had a decidedly Azzurri feel to it, as we ran down the pros and cons of Francesco Totti rejoining the Italian National team, while also discussing what was, during the Pre-Garcia days, a plausible alternative; Cesare Prandelli joining Totti in Roma.

All in all, it was a rather uneventful month; Roma took six of a possible twelve points and suddenly the idea of keeping Aurelio around looked real.

So, that was CdT's take on the winter of 2013, we'll take a look back at the rest of this tumultuous season in the coming days.

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