The moment this club announced the partnership with Philipp Plein, it was decided: this ownership is doomed. Decision making so poor on such a large scale was a harbinger of inevitable failure. The summer's gone well, but it's been only two games against clubs which spent last year in Serie B. Hardly definitive. The long-term fate of Roma still rests in the hands of men who decided Philipp Plein, the poor man's Dsquared without so much as one redeemable piece, was a good idea. Do these souls really exist?
Luckily for us, the footballers are different. Sure, some are questionable, and Dodo's NBA shirt collection large enough to outfit his home city needs a quick bath in flame-kissed gasoline, but a light does shine on the horizon. This is, after all, a club which employs Federico Balzaretti's mustache, Daniele De Rossi's teletubbies, and Marco Borriello's...well...Marco Borriello.
Hope. Hope exists.
The kits are decent - if retro tennis shirts are your thing; compared to most football shirts, they should be - and an improvement. Certainly upon whatever that radioactive canned cheese orange Kappa had been using on the black kits. I'm pretty sure its official Pantone color is Hot Pocket cheese-type-liquid. Of course the shirts are also incredibly simple, and simplicity is a cornerstone of good style because it's rather difficult to screw up simple. See: Ranieri, Claudio. Then again, simple doesn't really shake the established order to its core or win titles, either. See: Ranieri, Claudio.
But this is Rudi's team now: style is equally as important as substance.
Federico Balzaretti's Mustache
When it comes to Fedrico Balzaretti, two exclusive entities now exist. One, Federico Balzaretti: footballer, husband to Paris' prima ballerina, hipster glasses aficionado, swooning Lothario. The other shall only be known by one name: Deus ex machina.
Last year, there were high hopes for Federico. After all, Roma hasn't had true quality at the leftback position since Max Tonetto took the Spalletti years with him in tow into the radio game. John Arne Riise is wonderful, but without flaws he certainly is not. Then came Federico's glorious, flowing blonde mane; along with him, hope. And a hair bun. Hope and a hair bun, which sounds something like the emotional drivel marketed to housewives that lands at the top of the best seller charts and has genuinely gifted writers eating their own hair buns. (Hair taco? Hair taco.) The crosses began. And more. And even more. Though you'd never notice, since none quite landed in the general vicinity of a man on the same payroll unless he was on loan to the opposition. Balza was, without question, the largest disappointment of Saba Summer 2012. Coming into Saba Summer 2013, things were dire. There was talk of Roma proposing a switch...for Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Dear me. There was Dodo + Curls behind him. John Arne Riise even offered to come back like a discarded ex who doesn't quite understand it's over. Roma stiff-armed him. But then Federico showed up just a couple of weeks back, and along with him, the unexpected: the mustache. Deus ex machina.
The god from the machine. Hope rises.
Rodrigo Taddei's Buzzcut x Short Shorts.
There's a certain charm in a millionaire athlete showing up to work with a haircut that appears as though it cost less than a cup of coffee, especially when that man is Rodrigo Taddei. Perhaps he was sauntering down an alley, popped across an old barber shop with a bubble gum machine, metal chairs proudly sporting ripped padding, ten year old Playboys on the table which used to adorn the barber's living room, sat down and requested simply, "Take it short." No frills. No hot towel. No hand massage. No happy ending rubdown from that chick with the Adam's apple. Just good old fashioned manliness.
We've watched Rodrigo grow from a boy of the Alice band to a lady of the cafeteria to someone who now forms the cut of a man barking at you to do thirty push-ups, you fucking sissy. Your mother never loved you anyway. Sure, there was a gender change in there, but the means justify the end and the end is indeed worthwhile: he's older and the legs don't work like they used to - aerodynamics can be stylish too. The hair has form and function, just like Rodrigo. Perfect synergy.
We now arrive at the shorts. The length of which would have even John Stockton spitting a hissed "slut" and "whore" in his general direction. "He was asking for it." That's what they'd say. The others leer. Damaged goods. Can't get out of his own way. Daddy never loved him either. Oh no, the shorts didn't start that way, but Rodrigo, master tailor on the go that he is, has rolled them four, five, six times, such that he's crafted his own couture: a makeshift training bikini.
You can't even touch Rodrigo's legend, though he wants you to.
Mattia Destro: Homeless Lumberjack
No one really knows what's going on with Matttia right now - neither with his knee, nor his gut. What we do know is he found a beautiful woman and subsequently completely let himself go, all with the aid of a dodgy knee. A fate which has befallen many a man. His before and after photos floating around the internet should be posted on warning labels on Big Macs the world over, but he has time to get himself back in order and perhaps even groom that beard. Or shave it. Or just go full-on Michael Bradley and get a fresh start. Everyone needs one from time to time.
Or hell, maybe this will become a "thing". If fat and unkempt is the latest trend, well...
However, when he does come back, we're likely to see some variation of this unnamed, unfathomable hair...thing, which is another can of worms. You know what? Score some goals and no one will care. But Mattia will ultimately spend the season looking like his head just lost a fight with a lawn mower. Or maybe he lost his razor. For a year. A happy medium must exist somewhere. It must. Save this boy, Marco. Take him under your wing.
AS Roma Sweat-Shirts
Without doubt, the main takeaway from the summer of new kits was their magical ability to absorb water like a kitchen sponge. Personally, I have a theory these were specifically designed with Maicon in mind long ago, knowing full well that he was Rome-bound in the summer. The idea was to transform these shirts into a weighted vest of sorts, thus helping Maicon to lose the extra fat luggage - doing no harm to his teammates in the process - and if Hellas and Livorno are any indications, this was a stroke of genius.
No, but really - there's something going on with those shirts. By the third minute they've taken on a whole new shade, and while August is hot for football, is it so much to ask for a touch of lightness about their clothing? This is something to watch in January when traveling north and a shirt shatters into a million pieces on contact after running vigorously in the opening minutes followed by naff all.
Alessio Romagnoli's Frosted Tips & Tats.
The refusal or failure to loan Alessio Romagnoli out was a curious one. Perhaps they rate him, but Rudi seems to rate Timmy Axmurderer just a bit higher and he has to stay in Rome. The logical move was to get Alessio some minutes on a club which will buy his co-ownership rights in a year or two and then they'll lose him via envelopes and then he can turn in Daniele Galloppa-levels of football and then he'll be casually linked to Inter or Juventus and then Roma fans can bitch about selling off the youth again because it's in the DNA only to realize in like five years he was never really good enough anyway and hey, maybe let's not overrate the youth so much. Anyway, they didn't loan him.
The clear reality is he's being punished for frosting his tips in the summer of 2013 and he's been relegated to gardening duty until January, when he'll be let out on loan on the basis of good behavior so long as he smartens up.
Of course, then there's this tattoo of his. It's...ummm...err...a generic 1950's female. A pin-up. Word to the wise: don't use up valuable blank canvas space like the lower arm when you're eighteen, and especially not on one piece. We're running a pool at CdT on when the first cover up will be. Also, he might be part of a dancing street gang - be careful.
Morgan De Sanctis is here to save the day and he arrived in blue mirrored aviators. With ginger hair. That's like five of the six requirements needed to fly a fighter jet. The other is being Tom Cruise. Top Gun taught me. That's all you need to know.
These are dark days. Dark days indeed. First Philippe Mexes went, then Cicinho, and even Fernando Gago was only a temporary panacea for the neck tattoo pain. We march into a second season with no neck tattoos with which to whet our appetite and frankly, none on the horizon. After a first Saba summer which saw the arrival of Fernando Gago and Simon Kjaer, who has a room of the Uffizi inked onto an appendage - beat that - the future seemed promising. However, the seas are now quiet and calm and the waves slip silently into the shore. There is no surf to be had here. Roma is now devoid of any truly great tattoos - even Osvaldo's pirate ink is gone - although whatever Borriello's got going on in his general waist area is something most only dream they could pull off: six pack required, baker's dozen pack recommended. Daniele De Rossi's teletubbies are nice, the heart is lovely, and that bizarre street sign on his calf is, err, interesting, but nothing fresh and new in the last years. We've seen your sleeve, Daniele. It's nice. Totti, still love the gladiator. But where's the freshness? Where's the new ink? Where's something boldly amazing or utterly insane?
Would somebody get blackout drunk and have some male genitalia memorialized on their bicep for fuck's sake? What is wrong with this club.
Disregard the hair/head/beach blanket for a headband for a minute: Gervinho wears a fucking hat with his own name on the front (back? back-front?). Gervinho is an idiot.
Borriello. Marco Borriello.
Studs McDreamyMuffins is the James Bond of Roma: he's super cool, he's got some fancy duds, he commands an audacious salary, he can bed any woman in the world with the merest eye contact, and as of the beginning of the last incarnation, looks like he's still serviceable, but may be on the decline. Also, there's not a chance in hell 007 didn't pick up a stiddy along the line and as was the case with Marco's femme fatale, she was probably worth it too. Kindred souls.
There's so much to Marco's off the pitch game it deserves its own agent, which might explain the wages. Arguably the most stylish on the streets - Balzaretti knows a thing or two about that, however - it's just the total package. The ridiculous hair. The mustache. The Clark Gable wannabe look he's rocking these days. And tomorrow, it'll change. He'll be sporting hair down to his mid-back rolled into a geisha bun on game day with a full 'stache and eyes that could impregnate a small town with the flick of his hair. The next day, something else. Always something, but never too outlandish. Just enough to be progressive without the need to alert the mental health authorities.
There aren't enough hours in the day to pore over all that Borriello has brought to the pitch and speculate on those he still may, so take a look at his body of work (stop it) and bow in reverence. Marco's an icon.
De Rossi's Beard
Ah, the original lumberjack. Still a classic and the standard by which all beards in Rome are measured.
Sure, Italians are nice, but since Spalletti's years of fashion progression with the double scarf and general awesomeness, Roma's coach's box has lacked a true style icon. Claudio Ranieri's suit game was no more carefree than his tactics, and while Vincenzo Montella knows how to dress, he's just very standard Italian and he didn't really come into his own until last year - though the cardigan with matching arm sling was a nice touch. Luis Enrique? What color of suit goes best with an iPad 2nd generation? Though the man did have promise, this stuff has been done before. So too has Zeman rotating luxury suit (used liberally provided it was PP) and track suit arbitrarily on matchday. This club needs a visionary. They need someone to shake things up. Maybe go completely chic or let loose Cesare Prandelli-in-a-purple-bubble-jacket-style. The Italian suits are nice, but if you want to ruffle some feathers, perhaps taking a long drag on a long cigarette down a stroll on a lamp-lit long drag...you go Parisian.
Bow down to the master, kids - there's a Frenchman in town to show you how it's done. Francesco may be the King of Rome, but until further notice, Rudi is the King of Cool.
The Ultimate Declaration Of Style
Nothing can hold hostage the eye, the mind, and the heart as Francesco manipulating a small white sphere into space. Transcendence of the visual aesthetic.