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The Walter Sabatini Takeover

Your employer would like a word with you, please.

Valerio Pennicino - Getty Images

Juventus 4 - Roma 1

Walter Sabatini is here, smelling of menthol, knowing what time it is twice as good as you, and with a flap of greasy airline tickets to Rio protruding from his jeans pocket.

You've probably seen it already. It's worth reading again and again, because this is the mother of all hairdryers and pretty harsh for a rather young team. And then he went at them a second time.

"The first half? I have to search my vocabulary. It was disastrous," shruggedSabatini on Sky Sport Italia.

"Luis Enrique and Zeman are strong Coaches who focus on the attack, that doesn’t mean they are inadequate.

"We perhaps have to consider other decisions that we made or that we might’ve over-valued some players for their abilities to perform in this type of match.

"We should’ve approached it with different mentality, physicality, desire and ferocity. I am giving a negative view on what I see, which after tonight is inevitable.

"The lads who came here are on paper and in theory very talented, but they have to prove it every day on the pitch and in training. They must have the right attitude all the time.

"It is evident the team is midway through the learning process and that means there is a lack of balance, as some ideas have been assimilated and others not. However, we need other qualities during a game like this, such as determination and pace.

"Many people said Roma would be challenging the top clubs for the title, which up until tonight was fairly plausible. The Coach tries to give the team a certain approach, but they lack temperament on the field at times.

"We are asking ourselves questions with honesty. I say that more or less all the decisions were made with the Coach, so if there were mistakes in buying players then it was collective."


"Many players don’t deserve to wear the shirt," he told Mediaset Premium. "We have to immediately change trajectory. Immediately. In the space of a few minutes, we suffered two upper-cuts, then the team just disappeared. We ask our players to react. Let's not get discouraged.

"This team is competitive, and we know that we can play with anyone. We just have to learn from this defeat and change tack."

This, not the end result in Torino, could be the most impacting thing to come out of the weekend, as it could go one of two ways: horribly well or terrifically poorly. Or: welcome to Roma once again.

Now, having emerged from the fetal position in which I've found myself the last hours - much like the one in which Taxi entered the game - I, well, they're not really thoughts. They're filler, much like Roma's performance. (I'll stop. Swear.)


  • At the beginning of the season I didn't say Juventus are favorites, but rather that the title was theirs to lose. Nothing changed between whistles: they were the best team in the league going in and they're the best team in the league going out. But the performance doesn't reflect the actual gap between the two sides, nor do Juventus need any helpful nudges. Ahem.
  • This is the third match in a row in which Roma has shown some genuinely concerning mental short wiring. Despite the general overhaul, this team had three youngsters on the pitch: Lamela, Florenzi and Taxi. Yes, the midfield was a colossal issue, but the problems run deeper than a lack of experience. They always have.
  • One gets the feeling a lot of the hate above from Walter was directed at Tachtsidis. This theory comes mainly from watching the last 180 minutes of Roma. It's a good one.
  • Mattia Destro has usurped Erik Lamela on the "too talented to not be on the pitch solely for development purposes" throne - and that has nothing to do with Erik's poor start to the season 2012.
  • I'm finally saying it: Walter Sabatini should be chief scout, not whatever the hell his current title is. For the umpeenth time, building a team is not the same as spotting talent. The defense is an abortion - and they're not asking politely for you to sign the papers, but rummaging through the closet. The defense was an issue in January. It was an issue in the summer. And it's an issue now. Having one true serviceable fullback just isn't good enough at this level, even if his hairbun counts for two.
  • Love notes to Mirko this week, begging to make up, will not be from me. Swear.
  • Love notes to Miralem Pjanic's lower half wishing it good health definitely will be from me. I would like to use a proper footballing term here to describe what he brings to the side, but a more general term should suffice: sanity.

    Well, alright - all love notes will be from me this week. Those two will be stained in rainbow tears.
  • Atalanta at home is an excellent time to bench Maarten Stekelenburg and give Mauro Goicoechea a try. This is both a considered thought and suggestion.
  • Zemanlandia simply did not exist yesterday. And Zemanlandia without Zemanlandia looks exactly like one would expect of the real life equivalent: a theme park ghost town.
Next up: Atalanta German Denis.

Hold on to your pillow.