Siena 1 - Roma 2
At this point, it's genuinely hard not to get excited about a victory like this. Yes, it was Siena. Yes, both goals scored came from defenders. Yes, it's only the first game. But there was so much good to build upon, so many positive signs we can only hope to see progress through the weeks.
First things firstly: half this fandom - which DDR called "fickle" (he was being kind) - was ready to lynch Ranieri for his starting lineup before the opening whistle. By the half, people were pissing on his empty catacomb. And this should be a lesson in biting one's tongue and that thing called 'patience':
“E’ soltanto la partenza. Ho fatto la conta di quelli che stavano meglio. Vucinic mi aveva detto che non ce la faceva perché aveva fatto i novanta minuti in nazionale. Baptista mi aveva detto che aveva 50 minuti nelle gambe. Ho cercato di mettere De rossi e Brighi, più incontristi di Pizarro. Ho cercato di dare sicurezze alla squadra”.
In short: Vucinic couldn't play the entire game due to playing 90 minutes midweek (and he's still not that far off surgery) while Baptista was limited to 50 minutes for similar fitness/fatigue reasons (just back from South America).
No Menez? No Goober? No surprise. Ranieri likes his experience, but with a new system most coaches are likely to employ veterans to ease in the transition - and this before getting into the tactics on the day.
Now the good stuff: a Tuscan win...for the first time in three years. My, my, my how sweet. And that, beyond any means, is a wildly successful start to the Claudio Ranieri era. Period.
The better stuff? A comeback. A comeback with no blackouts, no second half swandives, no quitting, no mental dropoff whatsoever. Yeah, still early, but those are going to be paramount within the first few weeks of the Ranieri era in order to breed an aura of confidence within the squad. (It should be noted they didn't concede from 45-60 against Juve, either.)
And while there are a number of criticisms to be spewed on the methods of their victory - very little going in the way of offense - they did play well one both sides of the half (it's important not to confuse 'ugly' with 'poor'), which is certainly something. We can pick apart the halftime scoreline, but most counters don't shred Philippe Mexes into pieces of little girl. Maccarone happened to, and it's not the first time he's done so against Roma. Color it as Massimo having Roma's number and move on.
All good signs going into next week, and even better that there's a midweek game for Ranieri to...please forgive me...tinker with things a bit more as the team finds its identity going forward. I want to watch the game again before going into too much, so for now some notes and highlights:
- Burdisso had another solid, solid game. Solid enough that I've grown to have expectations and, at least with his track record, that's deadly. No fall hurts quite so bad as the one you ignorantly believe is no longer inevitable.
- Great to see another start for Julio Sergio, but today he had an Artur special: near nothing to do and conceded a pretty fantastic goal. Meh.
- The passing, at times, left a great deal to be desired. Let's hope it's a product of not understanding expected positioning and movements of teammates under a new tactical system.
- This is not a team which has thrived on set pieces - at either end unless we're talking Julio, John or Francesco standing over a free kick from within 25 - and no coach with two months of training to be crammed into two weeks could change that. However....much, much work needed and quickly.
- Riise's shot went right through Curci's hands. What a fucking idiot - doesn't he know those hands are Roman property?
- Brighi's sub changed the entire tactics of the attack by forcing David to move back into the deeper holding position, rather than chipping shorter balls from in front of the flat midfield four (everything was right up the middle). Baptista's going to get a rough ride - and he didn't have a good game in the second half - but he made some nice forward runs in the first half with the balls, going back to that passing thing, less than accurate. All of this played a part in the offensive stagnation, as well as the lack of a rapport between passer and runner leading to a bit of Pippo-itis. Tighten up the passing, give Ranieri a fresh start on tactics and even at its most hideous this team will create some chances. Play some nice defense and that should be just enough.
- I'm pretty sure Claudio has imposed a rather stiff fine for anyone who sends in a cross. Welcome to the Anti-Spalletti Era.