Monday, long has it been the nemesis of the working man. A day that gives you that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as you toss and turn in your bed on Sunday night.
Surely a bit of Roma at the end of a Monday would spice things up? Maybe it would give us something to look forward to while listening to that dickhead boss drone on about his stupid kids and his shit weekend. Ah wait, that was 2014 Roma.
Present day Roma had other plans.
Present day Roma thought it would flick a spark into the dried out haystack of discontent that had surrounded the team since December.
Returning to the Olimpico in what had seemed liked forever, Roma had a pretty good opportunity here to stamp some authority on the chasing pack for second place. Instead they’ve chained the guard dog, opened the gate and left the keys in the door.
Rudi trotted out his compulsory 4-3-3, finally giving Florenzi a crack in the mids alongside Keita and Pjanic. The defence was without Dougie, Manolas, Castan and Balza (Not a bad back 4 that), so Astori, Yanga, Holebas and Torosidis got a run. Up front sat his holiness Francesco imbetween Yao and Iturbe. Certainly not Roma at its most fearsome, but hey, certainly enough to deal with a nuisance club at home.
The first half wasn’t too bad. Sampdoria sat super deep and let Roma run out wide and ping in crosses to no one in particular. It might have been the rain or the pretty lights on the green grass, but Roma seemed to be doing a decent enough job putting proper goal mouth pressure on Sampdoria.
Totti, Gervinho and Pjanic all had A grade opportunities to take the lead.
This, my dear Romanistasses has oft been the curse of La Maggica. Not taking advantage of opportunities with clinical finishing.
Had Keita not been offside it isn’t too much of a stretch to say Roma could have horizontally passed the ball to their hearts content and eeked out a 1 nil win. Alas, he was.
The momentum was certainly with the home side in the closing stages of the half but some inspired goalkeeping and less than stellar finishing meant that all of the positive forward movements amounted to diddley squat.
The second half is the real story here. Florenzi drew a free kick early on and swung in a brute of a ball into Totti’s crotch. Sadly for writers, sub editors and general ball in crotch enthusiasts, Totti’s most valuable was unable to direct the ball (ah football that is) into the Sampdoria net.
And then… That douche nozzle, Mihajlovic tactically took Rudi to school.
Sampdoria hassled the Roman midfield and kept blunting their attack wide where it fizzled out harmlessly. Eto and Okaka started to look more dangerous on the break and the rather brittle Roman rear guard began to quake ever so slightly.
In the 59th minute that pesky Samuel Eto dropped his shoulder from a short corner and took Itrube and Pjanic to the cleaners before cutting back into the mixer. Alessio Romagnoli (not playing for Roma) then steered the ball into the path of Di Silvestri who was able to shrug off Florenzi and toe the ball past the helpless Morgan with his left.
I had to admit, this was an appropriately piss weak way to concede the lead in your home stadium whilst in the depths of a horrific run of form. There was, however, plenty of time for Roma to draw level and maybe even push for a winner.
Rudi took immediate action. It is with the most sincere of regrets that I must inform you, dear reader, that Rudi took a stupid action. He replaced Totti with Verde.
He took off the team’s only forward reference point in exchange for another speedy bumper car.
Sampdoria were already a goal up, exactly what space were they going to leave behind for players like Iturbe, Gervinho and Verde to run into? What’s more, who the hell were they going to pass to once they entered such space?
Five minutes of impotent, shin passing attack later and Iturbe was swapped for the guy who isn’t Mattia Destro, Seydou Doumbia.
I’ll come clean to you guys. I don’t like this Doumbia fellow. Since his arrival in Rome it looks like someone has decapitated his puppy and is making him play football just before being allowed to bury it. Seriously, what the hell has Rudi, Walter or anyone else said to this guy? How about a semblance of effort? A hint of a sign of actual desire?
Alas, I digress.
Rudi’s final act of sheer panic was bringing on Adem Ljajic for Torosidis and switching to a sort of 4-2-3-1.
Around this time Sampdoria brought on Luis Muriel for Okaka. When the hell did Sampdoria get Luis Muriel!? Why don’t we have Luis Bloody Muriel!? Every time this bastard plays Roma he grows an inch and gains an extra couple of yards of speed.
Suffice to say the newly arrived Colombian felt compelled to demonstrate his worth. He did this by flying down the left past Yanga Mbiwa and causing complete havoc. What remained of the Roma defence danced around like the Benny Hill theme music was on loop. Muriel got a shot off into the post, collected the rebound, did some fancy passing with his mates and then slotted the final ball in the bottom corner.
How would Roma react to this? A mentally devasted team now being voraciously booed and jeered by its own fans.
By getting a stupid red card and ensuring no shred of possibility for redemption, that’s how!
In case you haven’t seen it, the referee was trying to talk to Keita during a Roma corner. For whatever reason he was playing the ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ game and refused to indulge the referee, Calvarese. In response, the ref gave him a yellow. Seeing this, Keita then had the inexplicable need to act like a petulant child and clap in the refs face. 2 yellows = 1 Red and a suspension for boot.
If this wasn’t enough, Miralem got a stupid yellow card late on for a late sliding challenge that will also mean he is suspended for Roma’s next Serie A game.
Roma had a few desperate attempts at the death, but for I lupi nothing was destined for this manic Monday but misery.
After the game I calmly turned off the screen and started packing up my things. I locked the office door and then waited for the elevator. When it arrived I hopped in and then just stood there. It must have been a good 20 seconds before I realised I hadn’t pressed a button.
I imagine this is what it feels like if you were to finally confirm that your wife of 20 years had been screwing around on you.
Its not rage. It is just this very clear sense of no-goodedness. There is no more room for unicorns shitting rainbows with this Roma side. The comparisons during Christmas of how we were actually sitting in a better spot this year points wise compared to last year were always stupid.
The team has been well and truly figured out and neutered for some time. In a way it is a relief that with this catastrophic second half we can finally shake off the optimism of our oh so amazing winter signings or ‘just needing to click’.
Rudi’s basket case will no doubt be receiving more scrutiny following this result. But will he suffer the fate of Julius "4-4-2" Caesar on the senate floor? Nah, it wasn’t really a ‘Cagliari Catastrophe’ that removed Zeman nor was it a Cup final against…. Oh wait, we don’t talk about that, do we?
Anyway way you put it, Rudi’s Roma is in between a rock and a hard place right now. It may not be enough to get Jimmy on an express first class flight to the Eternal City but I bet his Guinness in Boston won’t be quite as nice tomorrow as it was last year.
Happy St Patrick's day Mr President!