Totti Tuesday: ‘Pirates, volleyball & Lego’

Paolo Bruno

My first Zeman-less post this season. A lot has happened since last week. Transfer deadline day, Roma supposedly played a football game against Cagliari (not sure though) and we lost a certain walking tobacco plant named Zdenek Zeman. Never a dull day at the Roman office. All we can do now is end the season as high as possible and salvage what is left of this squad which is in total shambles. It ain’t gonna be a pretty ride people.

Crying over Cagliari


In all fairness, I haven’t watched (wasn’t able to watch) the game and I didn’t feel sorry about it after seeing the score on my cell phone Friday night. Luckily I was at a bar and it took the term binge drinking to a whole new level. All the hangovers in the world didn’t matter though: Roma lost, Zeman out (or ‘esonerato’ as it is so beautifully called in Italian). I only watched some highlights so for the more grand and technical reviews I let Bren and Chris do the talking. The defensive state of the team seemed even worse than I had imagined, just watch the first Cagliari goal, no pressure whatsoever on Nainggolan. Bradley and Tachtsidis mainly at fault. Dodo looked bad on Cagliari’s third and the fourth was partially bad luck and partially a moment of brilliance by Sau. Night and day difference with the Roma of Milan or Fiorentina.


The loss leaves us at eight place in Serie A which is like the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie: it’s neither good or bad, heaven or hell. Just outside the top and safely out of relegation zone. One might say the place a team with a midfield of Bradley, Tachtisidis and Florenzi deserves right now. Pirlo’s, Vidal’s, Zanetti’s, Hernanes’, Hamsik’s or Inler’s they are certainly not but they are also no Vergassola, Modesto, Matuzalem or Blasi. It’s a… well, average spot for an average team at the moment. Harsh? Maybe. Despite this all, we still have a shot at some silverware in April, incredible but true. At this stage last season, LE amassed more points than Zeman while one must keep in mind that Zdenek’s team got three points giftwrapped by Cagliari Cellino. Heartbreaking stuff for Zeman tifosi (if there are still any left).

Awards


The volleyball award: Mauro "Hey, nice smash into the net" Goicoechea. I couldn’t resist. Even the morale of someone who got a life sentence at Guantanamo Bay is higher than Mauro’s. I feel bad for him, I feel even worse for Stekelenburg (but more on that later on). That said, if either Stek or Lobont are not in goal come next weekend, someone’s good at giving BJs at Trigoria…


The honorary award: Zeman. Who would’ve thought Cagliari would be his last game in charge? Due to time management, I can’t write a bigger farewell letter for his holy cigarettiness right now but expect one in the next few weeks when things have settled down in Rome. He remains a household name for the city after all. Until then, he’ll have to do with this imaginary award. Grazie mille per tutti Zdenek. The doors of the Olimpico will always be open for you.

Transfer tinkering


Well that was a rather quiet winter mercato no? I’m not a big fan of transfers in midseason, mostly it’s a waste of money or panic deals (I can live with a pJanic deal though). So I wasn’t expecting major news anyways but still, allow me to give my two cents about the deadline day of last week.


First, Antei and Nego loans to Sassuolo (Serie B) and Standard Liege (Belgium). Yawn. No one cares actually, both haven’t featured one single minute for Roma up till now so they won’t be missed either. We already have four CBs and our Primavera players like Serie B a lot (just ask Florenzi, Viviani or Crescenzi) so Antei was a no brainer. With the arrival of Torosidis, we’re pretty much set on covering right- and leftback. If even his ‘Willem Dafoe-ness’ Taddei is being linked with a move away due to little to zero playing time, then Nego knew he sure as hell wasn’t going to turn into Cafu 2013 anytime soon. I’m from Belgium so I’ll be able to monitor Nego closely, if he plays. Standard don’t have many quality options at rightback so I’m sure Loïc will see minutes. And if he doesn’t, well… we got great beer, chocolate, waffles and if you search thoroughly, beautiful women so he won’t be bored until June. Anyway, I’ll keep you guys informed on his progression, just don’t expect too much of the kid.


The deal for Bellomo (Bari) didn’t go through which actually makes me look ridiculous after saying he was 99% Giallorosso two weeks ago. And I refuse to adjust that post, you know, pride et all. Nico Lopez on the other hand stays at Roma which is the best damn news of this month IMO. Carrot production and dentists in Rome smiling as well.


Now, the vraiment pièce de résistance: Maarten Stekelenburg. Unbelievable. Even if they don’t play football, drama and Roma are never far away*. Stek was on the plane to Fulham to sign the deal before Roma blew it all up like the Bridge on the River Kwai. Reason: because Roma wasn’t able to find a replacement in time (Fiorentina asked too much money for Viviano). Where God oooo where would Roma be able to find a decent Italian keeper in the middle of his twenties who would love to play for the city? Hint: somewhere, Curci is crying.

Now, I agree they shouldn’t break the bank for Viviano but was it really necessary to blow up the deal? No. Three reasons:
1) Fulham offered money so that wasn’t a problem, Stek already agreed terms with them so everybody happy just like during a Justin Bieber concert. 5 millions euros plus one million in bonus was the deal, almost the same amount Roma payed Ajax back in 2011.
2) His relationship with Zdenek and to some extend Roma as a club. He wasn’t Zdenek’s favorite at the start. Expect his relationship with the society to water down even further. Plus, this news and treatment of Stek gives Roma and its management a rather bad imagine as well.
3) Was a replacer really needed? Yes, Mauro ‘flubberfingers’ Goicoechea isn’t the deal between the sticks but keepers rarely get red or injured and with Lobont and Sveddykauskas there were two alternatives left (three if you include JSB if he’s still alive and kicking that is).

Speaking of Lobont, which horrendous thing has he done to Zdenek not to earn his spot on this team? He isn’t worse than Mauro and looked decent during preseason. Remember he played almost every friendly back then (Liezen, Vienna, Alto Adige, El Salvador, Liverpool, Severin…). Maybe he slept with Zdenek’s daughter or laughed at his trophy cabinet (hint: Zeman doesn’t have one) and yellow teeth who knows? One of the things that annoyed me about Zeman’s communication, just like the weekly omission of Nico Lopez, the DDR-Tachtisidis drama in midfield etc. Will the sacking of Zeman provide a solition or unleash even more questions?
So yeah, I can understand Stek’s disappointment 100%. This should have been a done deal. But the Dutch Tree is a professional and now only Roma counts... Until June that is, then we enter the trashtalk region again. To be continued for sure.

* I hereby want to launch a new word and publish it into all dictionaries edition 2013: droma. Meaning: daily drama being caused directly or indirectly by professional football club AS Roma. Examples:
"My dog died today and I forgot to do my homework for school, so much droma!"
"My girlfriend broke up with me and my favorite football club lost again as well, I really had my share of droma for today…"
"Did you see the lovechild of Taddei and Nico Lopez yesterday? Oh the droma!"

Nagging about nostalgia


Next game Sampdoria-Roma. Ugh. Why do the Blucherati always remind me of THAT game back in 2010? Some wounds never heal I guess. Warning when watching the link: heavy feelings of nostalgia might make you cry like a toddler stepping on a Lego brick! Oooh and the first game under caretaker coach Andreazolli too. Will it be the glorious return of the 4-2-3-1 in Rome after two coaches who praised a 4-3-3? Is it too late to bring back Tonetto out of retirement and Mancini out of jail?
Thanks for reading, until next week!

“They’d have to shoot me first.” - Zdenek Zeman, 2013, after being asked if he would now retire and stop working as a Coach.

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