I've gone so far past baffled I don't know what to think anymore. I guess I'm flabberflustered. The Grand Imperial Poobah is changing his tune every few days now, and it appears no one wants to touch the Mancini subject in the press as though it's some sort of contagious disease. Mancini says that Spalletti has forced him to mature on and off the field, but that was in a magazine so who the hell knows when that interview occurred. Then there are the actions. Taken off in the 55th minute when it's clear there is a game coming up which has "rest" written all over it and that game, along with every game from here on out, can be categorized as a must win. How should that be interpreted? It almost appears as though the team is being weaned from the Mancini Era to the Post-Mancini Vucinic Era.
Still, unless Roma drops both games between now and the break and loses all of the big guns for the remainder of the season, how is selling Mancini in the middle of the season a smart idea? The only aspect I can imagine is that he really has become a distraction in the locker room and his effort is lacking such that his greatest contribution would be given on the last train out of town. Otherwise, knowing Spalletti's assimilation period, which runs on Saturn's calendar, we're looking at some less than ideal formations and tactical lineups. Sure, they can buy a replacement, but when will he be ready to make a serious run for some trophies? How long will it take him to get accustomed to Roma's unique style of play and responsibilities? What if he's an utter failure? Or shows up and starts playing like Christian Wilhelmsson and I end up in a Roman jail on premeditated murder charges?
I'll say having Vucinic on the field, even at LW, is typically nice - and would be fantastic if he could avoid shooting either directly at the keeper or Pluto - but he is certainly not the ideal choice out on the flanks. Taddei can fill in, but that leaves either a RB or Espo out on the right, and it appears neither of those scenarios are ideal either. Tonetto on the left? Sure, sometimes. But Vucinic and Tonetto out on the left as your main partnership? Yeck.
If Mancini is sold, as a replacement you're looking at a type of player who has Champions League eligibility. This one's a must and pretty much will negate any deal he isn't unless they are either on a free because they play in a "summer league" (Scandinavia, Russia, etc) or are just one of those deals which are impossible to pass up. Also a
Roman skill set. You know what that is. And at the very least a dollop more of consistency than Mancini while having a consistently non-grumpy attitude as well. Non-grumpiness being the key.
What I'm wondering is whether or not they'll go after a younger guy, someone who will need to be eased into the team and system while Mancini sulks as the lame duck until the summer. And I'm looking towards three places: Torino, Russia and the Swiss Challenge League. I think you know the names.
Rosinaldo has been completely wiped off the radar like John Denver, but it doesn't take a genius to realize Spalletti will be keeping an extra close eye on him as he conducts a personal audition 3 times over the course of the next month. Last year he was something else. This year he has been something else as well, just not in a good way. After his barn-burner of a start with 3 goals in 3 games, he has gone all sophomore slump and disappeared from games the few times I've seen Torino play (the one team I do make a conscious effort to catch besides Roma).
If rumors were to believed last summer (usually they aren't, but we'll run with it), he was only interested in spending one more season in the granata shirt, and an extension wasn't really going to matter either way. The extension was being set up so that Torino could get a fair price as his buyout clause was ridiculously low for his talent (I want to say 6.5m, but don't quote me). He signed the contract sometime in October and now his buyout clause is who the hell knows.
There's also the possibility he wants to stay in Torino and shepherd in a new era in a maroon kit. With any other team this becomes unlikely, but as has been said, there has to be a certain allure to becoming the hero which sparks the return of Il Grande Torino. (Or maybe that's just me talking.)
Basically, if he is put on the market, the way I see it there are only two competitors in the boot right now. He doesn't appear to be either of the Milan teams cup of tea. Maybe Milan, but I just don't see how he fits into the Xmas tree outside of a backup for Kaka. And he's no backup. Nor is he Brazilian. Inter, well, he's Italian. That immediately rules them out. I don't know about Fiorentina's finances, and even if they can afford him, it would be smart - which I think they are - to spend their money elsewhere. Juventus is obviously a possibility, and it would probably be an easy transition for him. The other team which could come in a surprise bid, a la Cavani, is Palermo; especially if they offload Amauri and deepen their pockets substantially. Even so, it's probably a two team race in the boot - that's before factoring in the rest of Europe. Arsene was interested which is always a good and bad thing. Who knows.
It's hard to peg a price right now. It was supposedly €10m last summer, which I find nearly impossible to believe. It's like walking into a whorehouse and hearing "it's my first time, seriously". I would have thought €12m at the very minimum, but closer to €15m, which I thought would have risen to €18-20m by this time, but it appears to probably have hovered around that €15m mark. Complete guess, but a pretty fair estimation. (And you know what, anybody who can pop the collar and pull it off a la Cantona, then it's gotta be worth at least 3 extra mil.)
It doesn't need to be said how well he would fit into the formation as both a creative influence and as a guy who can simply just run at dudes and beat them. Like Mancini with a bigger engine. Is he a feasible replacement? Out of anyone in Serie A right now, I'd have to say yes, but I think Roma would have to overpay in January. Not only because Torino is always going to have to work against relegation, but also because it's a lot easier to spike a bidding war in the summer when clubs have more time to focus on the mercato and are more likely to shake the squad up. That'll bump Torino's initial price a bit higher, as opposed to having it bumped up by somebody else.
I'll still guess Mancini will see out the year in the shirt, but we will see Rosina's name pop up a few times between now and January 31st - then some more. Some will be made up when Spalletti is asked of him in interviews, but I suspect if Rosinaldo does truly impress, there will be an inquisitory phone call or two made, regardless of the Mancini situation. Or at least we hope.
* - Haven't seen the Inter game, but word is he absolutely embarrassed Chivu during. Atta boy.
In case you missed yesterday's news, this was a bit of a surprise from Il Capitano:
“Antonio Cassano? I speak almost the same language as Cassano, in footballing terms. I have always got on well with him. He is a player with so much quality. Sooner or later he will show his true value.”
(I'm thinking it should be "I speak almost the same language as Cassano. In footballing terms, I have always got on well with him." At least without seeing the original interview in Italian and going by history.)
On the field is not worth the off the field matters. Just keep repeating that to yourself. Or at least try. I'm doing it without all that much success.