Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do:
For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be
Locksley Hall by Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1835
No, that was not my senior year book quote (I went the Led Zeppelin route), but I thought it was germane to what we collectively experienced last spring. Victorian British poetic references aside, they say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. In Roma's case, this idiom rang true, as they kicked open the door on March with a triumphant 3-1 victory over Genoa, while sputtering to an embarrassing 2-0 loss to Palermo at month's end.
Still, April brought new hopes, new visions and new wonders. Wonders, as Tennyson would say, of what would be. Roma's European lifeline still had a feint pulse, but in the cruelest of Roman dramas, the Roman Spring would begin and end with Lazio.
Let's set aside the football talk and continue with our first installment of CdT's Poetry jam...
April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain
The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot, 1922.
Roma's April 2013 was indeed cruel, with hope rising from victories over Torino and Siena, truncated by draws, both pitiful (Pescara) and soul wrenching (Lazio). In many ways, April was a microcosm of the entire year; Roma was all over the map in the first month of spring, much as they were for the entire season. No one really knew what to make of this club in 2012-2013, so let's take a look back at how we danced with those demons.
Early in the month, we took a step into Pablo Osvaldo's world, which is just as fantastic as one would imagine, but left feeling a bit remorseful over what might have been. When discussing PDO's time in Roma, and his mere existence, there is really no room for ambivalence, you either love him or you hate him, he's either a rousing success or a horrific flop. That didn't stop us from bridging that divide, however:
The problem comes in that he's been both. The man can score goals, spectacularly so on occasion and there's little doubt about that, if perhaps he should be scoring more than he already does. The issue is it has come at a very steep price; one which goes beyond transfer fees. He is, in effect, Roma's Mario Balotelli: an excellent footballer with all the decision-making skills of Antonio Cassano. His abilities on the pitch need be assessed with his behaviors both on and off it.
While I don't think anyone would place PDO in the same Prima Donna class as Balotelli or Cassano, when your tenure with your new team starts with slapping a teammate and ends with a weekend excursion to London while your club is in the throes of a derby, people's memories tend to get tainted.
However, when PDO was on the pitch, he scored goals; some were stupendous and some were garbage, but they came pretty frequently, nearly one every other game. Behind the scenes here, Chris and I are actually pretty well rounded sports fans, and while discussing PDO, and even the possibility of Alessio Cerci, we came up with an analogy; players like Osvaldo and Cerci are the shoot-first point guards of football. In and of themselves, they can astound you with their talent, stuffing stat sheets and YouTube bandwidth with equal vigor, but these moments of individual brilliance mask their shortcomings; in the grand scheme, they don't really serve a larger purpose beyond inflating their own self-worth.
In the parlance of our times, PDO's mantra was "Do You". While he was adept at scoring goals, he did so at the cost of greater offensive cohesion.
But, he was entertaining, was he not?
Tearful goodbyes aside, the biggest story of April was Roma toppling Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia semifinals, thanks in large part to Mattia Destro. Mr. Right's two goals propelled Roma into the mother of all derbies in the finale.
Month of May, it's a violent thing. In the city, their hearts start to sing. Well, some people sing, It sounds like they're screaming. Used to doubt it. But now I believe it
Month of May, Arcade Fire, 2010
We'll take a break from the Victorian and recap May with some French Canadian wordsmiths. May certainly saw its share of singing and screaming...
While the writing may have been on the wall, that didn't stop us from taking a second look at Pablo Osvaldo vs Mattia Destro debate. While Destro bagged two goals against Inter in the semifinals, PDO did him one better a week later, grabbing a hat trick against Siena, leading to our second, and largely ceremonial, Destro vs PDO analysis.
Several months ago this was a genuine debate, as real arguments could be made for either man getting the lion's share of the minutes. On the one hand you had a dependable, experienced striker capable of contributing immediately, on the other, a kid with limitless potential who needed minutes to bring that to fruition. What we've seen since then, however, has been a new narrative unfolding. The question has become less about to whom the future belongs, but rather how soon Roma can rid themselves of Osvaldo.
While we can claim that PDO was a selfish player (which we just did, I guess), he wasn't completely without his merits. But the hullaballoo that surrounded the PDO vs Destro debate wasn't really a critique of Osvaldo in and of himself, it was always about costs. There was the cost vs production consideration, which was a necessary consequence of overpaying for Osvaldo, and then there was the opportunity cost associated with leaving a player as talented, and as in dire a need of minutes, as Destro on the bench.
While that debate ultimately settled itself, May chugged along, Roma dropped three points to Chievo, we were treated to a bit of Borriello nostalgia, we went ahead and assumed that Toby Alderweireld would sign with Roma, and the club unveiled their new logo.
But, you don't need me to remind you how May of 2013 will be remembered. Roma lost a heartbreaker in the Coppa Italia finale to their city rivals, Lazio, forgoing the Silver Star for yet another year.
Speaking of silver, Chris managed to find some greener pastures in the wake of this historic loss:
Every single summer I quietly pray that It won't happen. I never say anything, but the back of my mind is a black cyclone of the unthinkable. I fret. I worry, because nothing will ever be the same. I like change. Not this. This is death. I fear that one day It will happen. That one day I'll wake up to a cacophony of articles, analysis, tears, and utter bedlam. That no matter what is said throughout the season, It does remain, more with each passing trek around the sun, a distinct possibility. On Sunday morning It, possibly more than ever with victory ushering in the cinematic swansong, was feasible. This could have been the Hollywood ending.
A stay has been granted; Francesco's not going out like this. At least one more.
We forget it now, but prior to this season, the Americanization of Roma hadn't gone terribly well in what are the dawn of Francesco's days. So, in addition to being the turning point of Roma's renaissance, this loss perhaps gave stay to the scripted ending of Totti's career.
Speaking of Totti's career, we closed out May by bombarding you with this near 3,000 word tome on Totti's pursuit of Silvio Piola's Serie A scoring mark, which, given his injuries this season, seems an even more distant possibility. But, as we pointed out, this record matters little to his larger legacy.
At the end of the day, Francesco Totti does not need this record to validate his career. He has done nearly everything a footballer can do-from scoring titles, to Italian Footballer of the Year, to Serie A Football of the Year, World Cup All-Star, Scudetto winner and World Cup Champion; there is precious little missing from this man's resume. Being Serie A's all-time leading goal scorer is merely another accolade among a host of impressive feats.
Based on those achievements, his sheer talent, and his unbridled love and dedication to the people and city of Roma, Francesco Totti will go down as the Eternal City's most lauded son.
For that, there is but one record holder.
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten
A Day in June, by James Russell Lowell, 1861.
While we didn't realize it at the time, mostly due to the laundry list of names attached to Roma's bench, the appointment of Rudi Garcia was the murmur of the life Roma would eventually lead.
But, before we looked forward, we looked back. Jonas capped off the season, as only he can, comparing each of Roma's players to certain types of women we've all encountered. My personal favorite, this rather apt synopsis of Simone Perrotta....Perrotta: The wise girl. God, look at her movements, she really makes her blue jeans talk. She is not as slick or shiny as younger versions out there, even in MILF territory but she can still give you a good time until 2014.
June is, of course, the start of the silly season. But this summer, there was quite a bit of actual movement, which made my lauding of Marquinhos sting all the more. Don't remember?
"When we're talking about the magnificence of Marquinhos, the only thing that matters is that he remains Roma's."
There was no crying over the spilled milk that was the Maarten Stekelenburg sale, with big Maarten making his way to Craven Cottage for €5.6m. While Dhaw broke the Rudi Garcia news and, stabbing at the heart of what it means to be a Roma fan, cautioned us all to "sit back and welcome him to our beloved club and give him an entire season before we pass a judgement on him."
Of course, winning 10 straight matches, including your first derby, and thrusting Roma back into the European conversation tends to buy you some slack.
We also covered the Confederations Cup, but that's a make believe tournament, so we won't rehash that. Dhaw also uncovered visual evidence of Tin Jedvaj, which we still haven't actually seen this season.
June ended on a sad note, however, with the news of Simone Perrotta's retirement. While this was, at once, shocking and expected, saying goodbye to one of the club's unsung heroes was never meant to be easy. Sure he was getting up in age, but Perrotta still made solid contributions in 2013.
So, that was spring in Roma. We bid farewells, both fond and forgetful, and what was a crushing blow at the time, may ultimately prove a blessing in disguise.