When we laid out our road map for a Roma draw against Barcelona earlier in the week, even in the deepest recesses of our hearts, we knew that was the best case scenario. Roma, without the game changing athleticism of Mohamed Salah and Gervinho, was always bound to lose to Barcelona at the Camp Nou. So, while I'm not certain we should have expected anything other than a loss, being trumpeted off the pitch in a 6-1 laugher was still a bitter pill to swallow; for us, for you, for the fans worldwide, and apparently for Roma's higher ups.
Roma's executives, namely James Pallotta and Walter Sabatini, were so upset with Rudi Garcia's performance yesterday, they couldn't even wait for a proper board meeting to hash things out, instead opting for a face to face shouting match in a parking lot. According to reports from Mediaset Premium, Big Walt reportedly read Rudi the riot act in a mini-van. Not a camper, not a luxury SUV, and not even one of those creepy windowless vans you used to see everywhere in the 1980s. Nope, Sabatini reportedly tore Garcia a new one in the back of an honest to goodness minivan, the kind your mom stows groceries in...talk about condescension.
The story linked above has quotes from all the pertinent players involved, but doesn't really address what may or may not have been said in the back of the van (which is a sentence I never imagined writing on here)—though I imagine words were exchanged amidst a cloud of smoke with tiny droplets of saliva precariously hanging from Sabatini's goatee as he pleaded with Garcia to play Salih Uçan.
The semi-collective message being foisted upon the media today is one of serenity: Roma still has a chance to advance to the knockout stages and yesterday's shellacking will have no bearing on Roma's domestic aims, so everyone calm down.
Now that the match is nearly 24 hours in our rearview mirror, a fresh perspective has emerged. You can accuse me of towing the company line if you will, but taking three points at the Camp Nou is nigh on impossible under the best of circumstances, let alone when you're missing your two most lethal offensive weapons and relying on four defenders who speak four different languages, two of whom are still kids and one of whom is playing out the string on his career.
Had Roma been at full tilt would they have emerged victorious? Probably not, but the match certainly wouldn't have been as lopsided, so let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
As far as Roma's long range ambitions are concerned, they should absolutely remain focused on their domestic ambitions. Sitting only three points behind the title pace, and with matches remaining against all the clubs ahead of them, the Scudetto remains within reach. So, at this point in time, all European achievements should remain garnishments to the main course, chasing only the fourth title in club history.
Europe only matters in terms of the bottom line. This Roma ain't taking down Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Manchester City in the knockout phases, so take down BATE Borisov next month,advance to the knockout stages, grab the cash, spend it in January and make an earnest run at the Scudetto and call it a day.
To be certain, to be a Roma fan in 2015 is to be conflicted. It's becoming readily apparent that Rudi Garcia isn't the man to take Roma over the top, yet he's done just enough to keep them in the conversation. So do you blow the whole thing up and start over, or pray that Garcia finally figures it out?
Call it a capital conundrum.