In some hours, Roma's ex-coach will take on the Brazilian behemoth. Who says you can't go back to an ex?
When Roma went after Laurent Blanc during the end days of the Zeman regime, and even with it freshly killed, there were rumors that the deal broke down due to disagreements over the contract, both in length and compensation. Fair enough. Lots of people like to get paid more money for a longer amount of time. They're called human beings. But what tickled my sixth Roma sense was the duration being mentioned: eighteen months. This meant the contract had the same end date as Zdenek Zeman's, and even Luis Enrique's, if we want to go there. (We don't - not really, anyway.) And one name on the marquee began flashing:
Cesare Prandelli. They're leaving a spot open for Prandelli.
For some reason, I thought I broached this here, but a quick search realized I hadn't - not, at least, until yesterday. And that's not to say it should be broached. It is little more than a hunch with no basis but for logic based largely on the idea that he's a splendid coach with his La Nazionale contract up in 2014, and logic rarely gets us anywhere in Serie A. Yet there it is, lingering in the corner like a quiet child few notice as a viable option.
Zeman: two year shepherd, as he was never getting beyond those two years.
Blanc: eighteen months to prove he deserves the job on a longer basis at the expense of someone else.
Is Cesare Prandelli the type of coach one sits on for years? Probably not. He's won as many league titles as Zdenek Zeman. His qualities are centered upon two very commonplace achievements for those who coach in Serie A, almost as though it allows for an automatic upgrade: promotion. His name is built on what he did with Fiorentina, which was very good but not extraordinary - it's not as though they won a title or even challenged for one. They simply became a very good club and consistently so, doing it on a modest budget and a wage cap that mirrored Antonio Cassano's weekly outlay on concubines. That earned him a look from the national team, where he's thrived. He's not the best coach in the world, but he has shown the ability to do two highly desirable things: maximize output and work with younger players.
From the eyes above, he's perfect. There is no chance - he's established. His CV is solid. If he fails, it's his fault. Would he? Unlikely. The fans would lap it up without complaint - at least the smart ones. Plus they have a crop of youngsters entering that stage before their primes, ideal for a guy like Prandelli to continue to mold in whatever vision he sees fit - which is another bonus: he's adaptable. There is no Zemanlandia, no tiki-take-two-point-oh-ah, no 4-2-3-1 Or Bust. Give him some players and he'll figure it out. If he can't, get different players. Oh, and he seems to be a Daniele De Rossi Whisperer, something of a dying breed, while also seeing the extraordinary talent which can be nurtured in the right places (see: Destro) and a solid disciplinary hand to boot. If he can turn Italy into a major tournament finalist again and Fiorentina into a perennial European club, imagine what he could do with a Roma starting to generate some Brand Roma cash - but easy on the wages, please. The children would no longer be children then, thus expectations may begin to mirror reality.
There is nothing to say he's under consideration but for being a theory with logic at its core. Roma is two-to-three years away from being any sort of contender, if even then. Hiring a babysitter for a year then turning it over to a coach with the capacity to finish the job would seem only prudent. Prandelli could develop the youth of course, showing the ability to work well alongside Pantaleo Corvino, very similar to Walter Sabatini in that they are both talent-spotters first, team-builders second, but he's on a contract right now. Find someone else who can, then turn it over in 15 months. The end is the person who can maximize their abilities, not necessarily the one needed to develop them in the first place.
And speaking of finishing the job, one would imagine Cesare would want to truly embark on his Roma adventure. You might recall he was the coach for, what, a month or so, back in 2004, then left to be with his terminally ill wife. This would be a second crack at a first one, all with a club which is willing to spend money and is attempting to move itself into a new stadium with some flair. The job has its allure. For someone like Pep or even a Jurgen Klopp? Not so much.
Of course, all of this means they're going to hire Roberto Mancini in the summer. Or some other person even less desirable. Wait. No. Doesn't exist. Nevertheless, there are a number of alternatives out there, and Fiorentina's current coach could finally be top of the list, though who would want to leave Firenze for Rome right now is a mystery to me, even with the intoxication ambrosia that is nostalgia. But this has always been a transition phase, whether or not some wanted to admit so. The idea is to figure out what they might be transitioning to.
The coach they tab to lead this club for years doesn't necessarily have to be the best piece, just the right one. Given this crop of players at their respective ages with the club's ideologies as they currently stand, I just can't shake from my mind that Cesare is the right one, nor do I think I'm not alone in that thought.
They might bring someone through the front door now, but the window's wide open and oh, the French doors on the side? Those are cracked a little bit too.