Roma's public face may say steady as she goes, but behind the scenes, things are far from calm. Following their 6-1 undressing by Barcelona earlier this week—the second such defeat in the Garcia era—an ultimatum has been issued in the Eternal City. Multiple sources in the Italian media claim that Garcia has been given a four-match edict: right the ship or lose your job.
What was first reported by Il Messaggero, has since been picked up by several other media outlets: Garcia has four matches—Atalanta, Torino, BATE Borisov and Napoli—to turn things around and save his job, though no word on whether or not this ultimatum requires a clean sweep of those matches, though it's safe to assume.
Despite the lack of plaudits for the first two opponents, Atalanta and Torino are both top 10 clubs this season and are more than capable of taking points from a Roma side flush with injuries, while the latter two matches need no explanation. Roma's Champions League life is on the line versus the Belarusian side, while a win against Napoli would give the Giallorossi some breathing room in what is quickly becoming a crowded top five.
La Repubblica takes things a step further, providing actual cannon fodder from James Pallotta, who will not only be in attendance for the December 9th match against BATE, but has reportedly voiced his frustration with the results and demanded a change of course.
The Corriere dello Sport (see, told you it was a team effort from the media) has gone so far as to name three possible in-season replacements, including former Roma headmen Fabio Cappello and Luciano Spalletti, as well as Walter Mazzarri, who has sunk so low as to consider a job with Toronto FC. I'm generally not a fan of mid-season managerial changes, but if they tank that stretch of matches, I don't see much point in keeping him around, but aside from Spalletti, no one in this list seems like a long-term solution.
If Garcia somehow manages to survive that four-match stretch but falters later in the spring, the CdS proffered a list of candidates Roma might lure to their dugout over the summer, including Leverkusen's Roger Schmidt, Azzurri manager Antonio Conte and, of course, Carlo Ancelotti.
This speculation, once more, points directly at the heart of our current conundrum, and at this point, I'm not sure which option I prefer. While drumming Garcia out of town might be the better long run move, doing so would mean that Roma has fallen out of the title race, which I assume none of us want to see. On the other hand, if he survives this stretch but wilts later in the winter, then what? How many more chances does he need?
At this point in time, the club is simply too talented and too close to the top to trust to a caretaker manager, but leaving Garcia as a lame duck manager is just bad news all around.
As the old adage goes, you can't please all the people all of the time. The next four weeks, beyond leaving a portion of the fanbase upset in either direction, will determine the course of the club for the next several years.
I feel like this should be our credo at this point: nothing is ever easy with this club.