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Totti Today #3: The purpose of pre-seasons

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And so the curtain falls on Roma’s American tour. Nicely split into two wins and two defeats. But what have we, Roma fans, learned from it? Is the American Dream real? Is Dallas part of Mexico or still American property? And is Philadelphia really as nice as the Tom Hanks movie of the same name?

Mitchell Leff

Pre-season push-overs

The first thing that struck me when I watched the fixtures, were the big guns Roma had to face during those days. Two wins and two defeats is not a bad overall when you look at the quality of our adversaries. Real, Liverpool, ManU and Inter are no push-overs. Some people in Church said Zeman and Rudi’s pre-seasons were better but I beg to differ. It’s impossible to compare them. I’d say this Summer is quite the challenge when you look at the friendlies of 2012 and 2013.

Last year Rudi began his Roma career against the likes of Toronto, MLS All Stars, Aris and Bursaspor. Chelsea was the only notable opponent that Summer. Zeman’s pre-season got a perfect score: nine wins out of nine but look at the list: Aris, Liezen, Irdning, El Salvador (is that even a country btw?), Vienna, Lublin… Liverpool being the biggest name of the bunch, a narrow 1-2 win. A good pre-season doesn’t always mean a good Serie A season as 2012-2013 showed. Roma ended sixth with 62 points, Zeman even got fired (sorry Dhaw to bring this up again).

Codes and chemistry

Now Roma had to face Europe’s best with only two weeks of training to play for the ‘all important’ Guinness Cup, aka the Champions League of beer. Guinness probably being the second best beer in the world (for the Danish people anyway). Roma ended third in that little tournament but who cares anyway? Some of young ones immediately were thrown into the arena and now know the huge task they have to face in Serie A. Especially after the ugly Inter defeat, one of our main rivals for a top 3 finish. After all the praise Roma (rightfully) deserved until now, they’re still nowhere. They don’t start the season with +3 or earn a Get Out Of Jail Free card for their A+ mercato. Right now when looking at the table, they’re as good as Cesena, Empoli, Milan or Cagliari. Period.

That’s exactly why these clashes are good for the growth of this club and its players. Yes, even when it ends in a loss. AS Roma can’t afford to act too complacent, a good mercato doesn’t necessarily mean a good team. Humans are no machines. They don’t interact via codes, it’s more complicated than that. It’s often a hit or miss involving chemistry, empathy from the fans, the warmth of the city and the stadium, interaction with colleagues on and off the pitch, a trainer who listens, a bit of luck… In short: a human being needs time to adjust to a certain environment, a surrounding. That counts for young guns like Sanabria, Paredes as well as aged veterans like Cole and Keita. Price tags don’t matter anymore, it’s someone’s personality which will eventually decide the outcome.

A stroll to Seattle

I still need to give a closer look at the recently unveiled calendar but those first five games are certainly doable. Roma’s calendar looks balanced, which makes me dream of a 2013-2014 repeat. It’s a shame though we have wait so long for the derby (January 2015). It’s a good thing we visit Napoli and Juve in the first round, while Roma end the season with three home games in a row thanks to Lazio-Roma on the 37th matchday. Who knows, it all could prove vital for the Champions League hunt or even the Scu… No, nevermind.

But first things first: From now on it’s quite an easy stroll until Fiorentina. There’s the Austrian tag team Eltendorf - Wiener and then Fenerbahce, Ucan’s ex-club. Welcome? Yes. Learnful experience? Probably. Defining? No. For all I know, Roma can play another thousand or so friendlies and we in Church would still be uncertain about our expectations for the upcoming season. I guess Romanisti will remain Sleepless in Seattle until August 30th is finally here. God, I love Tom Hanks movies.