Roma 1 - Cagliari 2
First off, let's not attempt to deflect blame from the true source:
Somewhere shallow in Bruno Conti's cotton slacks.
Who's surprised? Anyone? Hands? Anyone?
I wasn't much on the Luis Enrique bandwagon to begin with - Roma's had enough issues with coaches and the mentality required in and around Trigoria than to thrust this much responsibility onto a newbie from the Spanish Segunda - and the first months have done nothing but...well, they've done nothing. That doesn't mean I don't register he might be a great coach one day and right for Roma and this requires supreme patience and butterflies and cupcakes and unicorns, oh my.
Patience. Yadda. Yadda.
But again: The concern isn't the fans or an internet message board. The concern is in the locker room. It will always be in the locker room so long as they're playing and losing like this (maintaining possession does not mean outplaying the opposition in tactics-based calcio - they can bring Spain to Italy, but they can't make the rest of Italy Spain - particularly when teams are going to setup and prepare for the counter). Players don't like to lose, and while they're all preaching patience in the press, regurgitating words, they did not sign with Roma to be looking up at 12th with infinite amounts of patience at Christmas. Players are human and patience is finite.
This is almost an interesting psychological experiment: To what threshold can one take professional athletes before they break?
Because this is not going to be a quick fix. The second half looked better, but they have no direct runs breaking the defense until the completely exposed themselves to the counter in the latter stages, and conceded a goal at that (down a man, of course).
I saw improvements, but I saw improvements only because it's Cagliari. They still had a monumental cock up - Jose Angel's territory, seemingly - at the back; they still can't score a goal from play; and they still have zero cohesive identity but in spurts.
Time. Patience. Buckle up.
- On Lil' Angel:
We've all watched the last few games, even friendlies, right?
This is not the exception to the rule; this is a pattern. He is enticingly talented, and enormously so. And yet, he's prone to one biblical cock up a game, which, in the Serie of A, is what turns wins to draws and draws to losses.
There's a difference between the rule and the agreement with said rule, as here. Just like the passive offside. I hate it. That doesn't mean I discount its existence. The red card rule is intent. He may no apparent attempt to play the ball, but he did make an attempt to play Davide Biondini's leg. Or maybe he didn't, but it was so late it was impossible to determine intent as anything but malicious and/or stupid. Both get red cards. As red cards go, it's a bit soft, but rulez is rulez. (I seem to remember Simone Perrotta getting a whiff of elbow in Bordeaux and the same thing happening sans contact. It happens.)
Roma's best player for 66 minutes or so, but two moments...
Nonetheless, he's 20, and he's going to be an incredible player in the future. Right now, he's an incredible attacking fullback. Someday, fullback.
- Borini scored with his first touch. Somewhere, Okakachukamuthafucka was crying.
- Miralem Pjanic is instantly my favorite Roma signing in years and years. Perhaps since Adrian Pit* kept the hits comin'.
His game, his mind are so right for Serie A it's not even funny, so long as he's given the proper role on the pitch.
The short-term future looks rough, but the long-term future looks very bright. (Which is likely the plan.)
* - He now plays in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan. Simmer on that.
- This begs the question whether or not they'll be willing to sacrifice short-term results and dismiss those who would help results now - ie Taddei, Pizarro - for those who are to build the core of the squad from 2012-15.
I imagine the highers ups are, at the moment.
- I want a refund on Pablo Daniel Osvaldo. Right now. (Well, I wanted one the moment he signed.)
Either that, or perhaps the realization he's not Mirko Vucinic or Jeremy Menez (epic run on the assist to Pastore today, might I add), and doesn't belong starting out wide.
- Bojan looked absolutely invisible on the right, getting little service but the high fives from the ballboys on his left while camped on the running track. Osvaldo was the best player in the first half - but for Cagliari.
There seemed to be many halftime tactical switches to fix this massive problem. (Switching flanks, if Osvaldo is right-footed; taking off one or both; taking off Osvaldo and switching Bojan to the left; etc.) None were made.
- I like the weather argument. I didn't realize Cagliari was playing with their own personal air conditioners.
- Marco Borriello's season of 'middle fingers to the world' is going to be wonderfully awesome. Roma's best player minute-for-minute.
Keep poking the bull.
(Oh, and....Serie A experience - it works.)
Next week, into the lion's den: Inter at the San Siro. Despite their foibles this weekend - the Renzo Barbera ain't Cagliari at home, nor will Sneijder be starting from the bench again - Roma's going to be heavy underdogs.
No, this will not be pretty. Not for a long time.
But mostly, if Bruno Conti's Bruno Conti had a modicum of self-control, our lives would all be that much better.