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Grasping For Silver Linings

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As disgusted as I, or we, may be with calcio at the moment, it's not all bad. Not all terrible, at least. Something like being fondled by your local priest: it's horrible, sure, and the lingering effects will be irreversible and life-crippling, but at least it comes with a free ticket to heaven under their Customer Satisfaction policy. And you needn't even die within 30 days.

So there's that.

There is one large silver lining I can spot from far, far away - much like the general population with a shirt tug or a handball... - but a few trickling in through as coping mechanisms on this difficult-to-swallow fall day.

Ah, the life of Roma.

  • i. Let's start with Philippe Mexes: he's going to be suspended. Even if they rescind the card - which they plainly should but I find improbable - having to be put in a half-Nelson by multiple teammates whilst chasing down the officials is the quickest way to a phone call from the leagues offices I can think of at the moment. That's bad.

    However, after his one man dog & pony show against Bologna, he looked quite excellent. And that tackle - you know, the one which earned him red - was magnificent. So good, so unlikely you can almost forgive the referee for believing it actually happened. Almost.

    I had suspicions part of his rapid decline in the second half against the Oscar Meyer boys club was something to do with fitness/injury/etc - because remember, he was quite good in the first half and if not for Burdisso's suspension, likely wouldn't have been deemed a smart start. This only strengthens my theory that the Philou of old is making a triumphant return and Bologna 60-90 likely wouldn't have happened under normal circumstances.

    Plus the tantrum was vintage hothead Mexes, so add another check mark under the resurrection theory.

  • ii. Cicinho. Brescia weren't exactly Cesena on the counter (why yes, the plucky little newbie is the benchmark as we stand) and he was caught out many, many, many, many times - hell, Brescia's late game tactic was to dump it high and left and pray for a runner - but he provides a number of useful things on the right, like crosses and skill and pace and not being Aleandro Rosi at the moment, who's thisclose to being loaned to the local anger management chapter's snack time kickabout team. (Remember the Cossu.)

    I get why Ranieri doesn't play him, hasn't played him - the Spalletti-to-Ranieri shift does not favor fullbacks who have the occasionally difficulty with under-7 quality defending, hence Marco Motta - but given the lack of good things happening right now, there's very little harm in giving him a run and Aleandro a timeout. Kid's a ticking timebomb and Cicinho has loads of ability in a side not exactly in a position to await the ideal in the fullback positions at the moment.

    Plus, as you'll note in the video below (specifically the Mexes incident), he's capably filled the gap left by Stefano Guberti in the pleading hand gestures dep't.

  • iii. Marco Borriello is a godsend - Berlu fucked up. (This not exactly being news.)
  • iv. They never ended up buying Gilberto Martinez.

    Sweet Baby Jesus is he an incapable defender.

  • v. Adriano's not entirely useless. He's still pretty useless and has all the mobility of a large ocean-going vessel with the same quickness of turn to boot, but put him in a position to whip that 100kg left into an arc and he could win wars. Minor drug wars in a Rio slum, but wars nonetheless.
  • vi. Outside of one counterattack, they absolutely, positively and undeniably wiped the floor with Brescia, even down to 10 men, when they might have even been a bit better. This wasn't so much a football game as a lesson in the art of grasping that ledge with two hands and pulling one's self up out of the hole with one firm thrust. This was reaffirming, both for the fans and the players, that not only does this team have those much ballyhooed balls, but they are, in some convoluted, unmathematical way, on the right track.

    (Never in doubt on this end, mind you.)

    Perhaps at the end of the year we'll look back, as we do with that crushing double blow in Sardinia back in January, as the one backward step which enables them to launch into a thundering sprint. These are the hardships which invigor, enrage and give rise to jubilant YouTube compilations at season's end. Some might even say this is just what they need.

    The sun was shining, Rossu simply pulled the shades; someday soon it will shine again.

So no, not all bad.

But for the love of all that is Francesco, could these guys just catch a break?

***

Julo Sergio's ankle is not broken, but ligament damage possible, if not suspected.

More tomorrow, but given the way the bench has looked all season, I wouldn't recommend pinning hopes and dreams on an Alexander resurrection from the dead. Bogdan's plainly the No. 2, and unless Claudio forgets how to count - rosaries at the ready - Saturday's very likely to be a Romanian adventure.

This is something akin to having acid poured into an open wound whilst begging for the salt.

***

Claudio:

“Everyone saw that the team did everything it could, but unfortunately it was marked by the decisions of the referee. Their penalty was non-existent and we should’ve had at least two spot-kicks."

“How can you give a corner for a challenge on Matteo Brighi? Plus whoever was marking Marco Borriello didn’t even look at the ball, he just dragged him down.

“The lads honestly did not deserve to lose. It was one of those bad days. We made some fouls in the first 20 minutes and got three yellow cards, fine, but then the same method wasn’t applied to Brescia.

“We all saw the handling offence from the touchline and the officials didn’t? It is clear, so visible.

“I am curious to know if the linesman gave the penalty. The referee was blocked off from seeing it clearly, but if the linesman gave it then he ought to be hospitalised for tests on his eyesight. He can’t see anything!”

.

***

I left and came home, not seething but still in a state of mild shock, and decided to once again watch this replays.

Not a smart move.

Watch at your own peril, but do make sure to offer Philou a standing ovation for his world class tackle of all ball. Outside the box.