My CdT adventure started nearly four years and approximately 800 articles ago, and throughout that time I've covered nearly every aspect of our beloved club, so much so that I occasionally stumble upon something I forgot I even wrote. Case in point, a piece I published New Year's Day 2015 outlining five things Roma must fix in 2015.
So, if you're willing, let's indulge our inner sadists and see how Roma fared on my five point prescription for 2015.
Revisit #1: Make More of Mattia Destro
No matter what you think of Destro's skillset, if Roma are to be successful in 2015, they need Destro's presence in front of goal, meaning Garcia must find a way to get Destro useful minutes, rather than substituting him in a last gasp attempt to secure points. That's simply too much pressure for a player so young and, quite frankly, not the proper utilization of a player who needs to time to integrate himself into the flow of a match.
Whoops, we're not off to a great start, huh? Despite his dispatching to Milan shortly after this piece was published, Destro was still among Roma's most prolific strikers last year, accounting for 18% of all goals scored by forwards last season.
This one still stings a bit, especially now that he's caught fire with Bologna (five goals in six matches). I still maintain that this relationship could have been repaired, but as is the case with so many players who don't fit Garcia's myopic visions, Destro was sacrificed for the greater mediocrity.
Revisit #2: Figure Out the Fullbacks
We could also title this one "Keep Maicon Healthy". During last year's magical run, Roma won 68% of the matches in which Maicon started, a figure which has risen to 78% this season. Sure, this doesn't in any way suggest a causal relationship, but even using the eye test, Roma is much better with Maicon on the pitch.
But that left back spot...that's another story altogether. Last season, we saw everyone from Vasilis Torosidis to Dodo to Federico Balzaretti and even Rodrigo Taddei man that left back spot, so to call that a source of consistency is almost laughable. Fortunately for Roma, Dodo strung together enough decent performances to keep the levee from failing, while Torosidis was solid in spot appearances, but left back remains a point of embarrassment for this club
Hmm, this one isn't as cut and dry as my first suggestion. Maicon, when fit (remember that day? That was fun), has been a positive influence on the club this season, particularly when paired with Lucas Digne, but how often as that happened?
Regardless of the absence of Maicon and Alessandro Florenzi's fall swoon, this one is a win thanks to the impressive Serie A debut of young Digne. God help me if they don't retain this kid this summer. The lag of his first full-time season seems to be catching up to him, but this kid has it all; he's as good a building block as we have at the moment.
Ruling: Partial credit
Revisit #3: Beat Who They're Supposed to Beat
...as we're all well aware, Scudettos are won and lost against the minnows of the league. Roma can't expect to saunter into Juventus Stadium or the San Paolo and take an easy three points, meaning the margins of the Scudetto are fought in places like Genoa, Sassuolo, Empoli or, like last season, in Catania. While Roma has generally run the table against these smaller sides, dropping even two points against clubs like these will make Roma's chase of Juventus infinitely more difficult.
Ruling: Tremendous Failure
Revisit #4: Keep Doing Whatever They're Doing to Adem Ljajic
Through 14 appearances, Adem Ljajic has already equaled or surpassed his numbers from last season, indicating that, perhaps, at long last he's added some consistency to his already considerable skill set. Ljajic not only leads the club in goals and passing accuracy per 90 minutes, but he's second only to Francesco Totti in assists, key passes and even shots per 90 minutes.
Simply put, Ljajic is developing into everything everyone ever thought he'd be; a dynamic talent, capable of controlling matches seemingly at will. With Totti's minutes always a factor, and with Gervinho not quite looking as crisp as last year, Ljajic's talents will go a long way to keeping Roma afloat through the winter
Don't talk to me.
Ruling: Tremendous Fucking Failure
Revisit #5: Maybe...Just Maybe...Beat Juventus
Since the year 2000, Roma has defeated Juve in league play only three times. Three times in fifteen years! Their record is even more pathetic in Torino. This has to change.
Ruling: Hollow Victory
I seldom toot my own horn, but those were five realistic and important keys to getting Roma back on track in 2015 and, with the exception of getting Digne, Roma failed on nearly all of them. Sure, they can and should still be able to succeed without players like Ljajic and Destro—after all they've been adequately replaced—but as the team was constituted 365 days ago, they were integral parts and should have been utilized to a greater extent by Garcia, and while beating Juventus this fall was a tremendous morale booster, they flushed that down the toilet with each successive draw and/or losses to the likes of Bologna, Torino and Atalanta.
2015 was a real mother @$%^@! that's for sure
Stay tuned for our 2016 prescriptions later next week.