Random observations from the final friendly against Ternana, which was fine and, as expected, very much a friendly performance amidst a gaggle of new faces in new spaces under Rudi. Totti was a CF, Florenzi was a LW, Daniele had the defensive midfield to his own like a teenager whose parents went away for the weekend, and Maicon was thundering into the box like there's no tomorrow. Oh, and one would imagine that formation won't play a predominant role in the upcoming season, but it's always nice to renew acquaintances with old friends - especially when there's nothing on the line.
Little can be gleaned from this friendly but damnit, we'll try.
Can Erik thrive with Francesco? Can they hold onto Erik until Francesco retires?
I see it. You see it. They see it. Erik needs the ball. The problem is for all his talents, he's standing in line behind a generational legend who is still far superior to his precocious skill set, even at 36. How long? Either Erik needs to be riding up Totti's back side (somewhere near Roma's left corner flag as Francesco drifts closer and closer to LB) catching the scraps or he needs to be given the pitch, which is likely only to happen - and rightly so, since they're leagues apart - when Totti retires. If ever.
It's a dangerous game they're playing. Erik might have all the talent in the world, but he's far from utilizing it. The money looks more and more enticing with every single match he fails to do the simple things which would allow him to even approach his Zeman era form. It might only be a friendly against Ternana, but moving without the ball should be done on the beach with friends, too - it took Gervinho all of five seconds with a club he'd never played for to show him how. No matter the match, no matter the stage, no matter the significance, Erik just seems so...perpetually lost.
The sad part is no one would even think of these things twice if some club wasn't waving 35-40m in Roma's face. You'd ride it out, say, "He's only 21," dismiss it solely as preseason, and not worry about letting someone else take minutes while Erik gets it together. It simply can't be ignored - that is an incredible amount of money for someone who is playing himself toward the bench.
Good Balza v Bad Balza
The jury's still out, but signs are promising. I mean, that mustache is spectacular. Clearly something is going right somewhere.
Francesco Totti, Leftback.
Someone please compile a heatmap of Totti during the summer friendlies. Please. Then compare and contrast it with Federico Balzaretti's. I would put a solid amount of money Totti's runs deeper, which is kind of hilarious, yet still remarkably effective.
So he hasn't even played an official match for Roma and Maicon's like Top 3 FB in Roma history already. That's a (slight) exaggeration, but he's skilled. And if you saw him take his shirt off at the end, he's a little bit tubby too. Apparently all that gym work was indeed on the Adriano Workout Plan. "One and two and one and two and one and two...chicken fingers."
Frankly, he can show up looking Buddha after a Chinese Super Buffet if he continues to push and run like that. Who the hell cares. Go, Dougie. Go.
Not an immensely loved signing, but Gervinho does have his merits - his first minute was better than Erik's whole match, if Ternana figured him out rather quickly. And if there's one thing we know, it's that Francesco can find someone who can place their body on a collision course with open space. The problem is what happens once he has the ball, but in time, Gervinho will win Erik's spot. Guaranteed.
Speaking of moving without the ball...damn he's good at it. So much so you want him to start. And then he does anything else with the ball and you're back to thinking, "Okay, Marquinho, you be a good boy and sit over there again."
This club doesn't need any new players. It needs a team of wizards to splice various attributes and body parts with each other to create superathletes; like Pablo's finishing into Borriello's feet, Dodo's legs with Taddei's mind, Marquinho's off the ball running in Erik's body, or Balzaretti's mustache across Gervinho's forehead to fill in the space. Roma actually has the perfect squad, the science just isn't there yet.
That's how I sleep at night, anyway.
It was Ternana. There's little to be taken from any of this. But the best showing of the evening came in seeing a calm Daniele De Rossi ordered into the space between defense and midfield with his only responsibility to vacuum any and all attacks coming his way, or at least hinder them until help arrives, then drop the ball to one of the two ball-savvy mids in front of him. Or the Totti back and to the left, damn near in the stands. This is a role which could hasten the return of the Daniele we know.
Damnit, there's that 'hope' again.