We're thick in the doldrums of the international break, so the news, such as it is, isn't exactly dripping with substance. Roma president James Pallotta has filled the void by offering some rather succinct insight into his investment schemes, claiming he invested in Roma because its, and I quote, Rome! Okay, easy enough, but part of what is currently making Rome Rome falls to the feet of Rudi Garcia. Through his first 16 months of his tenure, the Frenchman has won nearly 70% of his matches at the helm, leading many to already exalt him as Roma's manager emeritus.
When prompted with the inevitable Alex Ferguson comparisons, Pallotta gave what is quickly becoming his trademark; a pragmatic, yet non-committal response that somehow still elicits delusions of grandeur:
Is Rudi Garcia our Sir Alex Ferguson? We are trying to build a path for many years to come, we are thinking of the next 20 years ahead.
Of course, at only 50 years of age, Garcia can presumably coach as long as his heart desires, his reputation is such that he'll never want for a job, but it may be a bit presumptuous to envision him stalking the sidelines at the Stadio della Roma for the next two decades. Nevertheless, the manner in which Garcia has taken Rome by storm has not been lost on the mainstream.
ESPN, the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports, recently ranked the Top 20 managers in European football. Perched at the top, as one would presume, is the duo of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourniho, but Garcia landed at number nine, sandwiched between Antonio Conte and Roberto Martinez.
On Garcia, EPLS...I mean ESPN, devoted all of three sentences towards Garcia, each devoid of depth, context and meaning.
The football dazzles, but the achievements should be considered in the same light. Garcia took Lille to a supreme Ligue 1 win that was almost France's equivalent of Borussia Dortmund, and already threatened to do the same with Roma. That side certainly look threatening in attack, as they have offered blistering football.
Now, I wouldn't expect ESPN to be effusive in their praise for Garcia, after all, he features in a league that barely registers with the folks in Bristol, but surely they could have done better than this, right? Nevertheless, securing a spot in the ten is impressive, but what has Brendan Rodgers done to best Garcia, or even Antonio Conte for that matter?
Garcia and Napoli headman Rafa Benitez were the only current Serie A managers to crack the top 20, while Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte and Cesare Prandelli were the only actual Italians to make the cut. Alas, Italy is indeed in a down cycle.
No matter how long he stays, we ought to thank our lucky stars Roma had to "settle" for Rudi Garcia last summer. He captured the tenor of this club and of this city almost overnight, and, as we've seen in recent weeks, he's becoming a master at manipulating squad rotations, managing to keep Roma second in Serie A and second in Group E despite a spate of injuries to key players.
He may not be Sir Alex, but the we'll be his for as long as he'll have us.