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Totti Today #33: The Valencia Vindication

Daniele De Rossi and co were not the only ones taking a plane last weekend. Due to my recent trip to Valencia (a lot of ‘Ola chickas!’, very few responds unfortunately), I shamelessly missed Bren’s latest roundtable debate. But do not sob my children, Totti Today always delivers the goods. Patience is a virtue and boy, do Roma tifosi have patience!

1) Let's not mince words, James Pallotta gives you license to drop one, who gets the chop, Walter Sabatini or Rudi Garcia, why?

I‘m not eager to drop one of them, but if Bren would put a pistol to my head gangsta style and demand an answer, I’d go for Rudi Garcia (while heavily moistening my pants but that’s off-topic). True, Walter has done some bad deals lately (especially in defence), but I believe a trainer truly makes a player better or even great. Spalletti got the best out of guys like Tonetto, Taddei, Vucinic, Perrotta. Zeman knew how to work with Totti and Lamela. Even Luis Enrique worked some magic on De Rossi and Borini. Maybe Rudi’s time is simply over, the surprise effect gone. And we all know he’s unflexible when it comes to formations and players. I think a new trainer might have a better impact on this team than a new DS. That said, Walter is to be blammed as well. The curious deal for Spolli, overpaying for Ibarbo and Doumbia, the current fullback situation… He should look in the mirror too, while huffing and puffing his dolce Marlboro. For both men: you’re only as good as your last transfer/game and both are in the danger zone.

2) Regardless of who you think is to blame, what was each man's biggest mistake this season?

Garcia: his midfield choices. Paredes and Ucan may not be the ones to carry an entire team on their shoulders just yet, but starting a trio of Keita-DDR-Ninja hurts my eyes every single time. A 3-5-2 or 4-2-3-1 could provide an answer. But Rudi kept hold on his favorite 4-3-3. Flo and Holebas as wing backs, Ljajic as CAM,… Hey, it works in FIFA on PlayStation, why not in real life? A lot of people complain about the shaky defence or the need for a true striker, but every combination of Roma’s midfield trio in the entire 2014-2015 up to now hasn’t clicked. No ideas, no sharpness, no switch-overs, no viciousness… Far from last season’s gem (Pjanic-DDR-Stroot). Close second: Rudi’s profound love for Gervinho is starting to annoy me as well.

Sabatini: Iturbe! In all seriousness: When was the last time Roma actually bought a good fullback at his peak? At the moment Maicon and Cole are washed out, Balzaretti a ghost and Torosidis and Holebas are mediocre at best. Roma’s standing in front of another overhaul in that department while it desperately needs some stability. Look at other top teams: Lahm, Lichtsteiner, Marcelo, Dani Alves, Ivanovic, Zabaleta, Schmelzer, Maggio, Juanfran, … All have been mainstays for their respective teams for years now. Also, smoking too much has been Walter’s mistake ever since he could spell Marlboro (probably at the age of 4). Heavy smoking AND running a club like AS Roma? The man’s indestructable I tell ya.

3) Which player should Sabatini absolutely not have signed? Which player should he have signed?

Both lists are long as hell. A Darmian, Piszczek, Vertonghen or Rodriguez would have been welcome. Or dare I say, a Luca Toni loan deal of six months? Hey, it worked in 2010 right? About the incoming transfers: Roma can do better than a Spolli, Skorupski, Cole or Ibarbo. The Spolli one (from Catania, bottom Serie B club) probably baffled me the most, it happened while Chichires was in the waiting room.

4) Which player has Rudi Garcia mismanaged the most? How would you change that? Has his handling of any player improved this year?

Florenzi. The kid has played every position on the pitch except keeper and I still don’t know how to describe Alessandro’s qualities. A winger? Right midfielder? An aggressive rightback? He has 26 Serie A appearances so far this season so Rudi obviously likes him, or should I say, his versatility and heart. He recently turned 24, it’s time for Rudi to make a decision and stick with it. It’s best for Florenzi and Roma’s future.

I think Ljajic has performed better than expected so far, maybe it took some time to click with Rudi? Also his inclusion of and faith in Verde is one of the bright points of this season. A gamble that paid off while his recent surprise du chef (Ucan against Cesena, he must've read my earlier post) was applauded by the tifosi as well.

5) Okay, let's pretend Garcia gets the axe, who's your ideal candidate? What qualities must they possess in order to be successful with Roma?

In my ideal world: blonde, blue eyes, high heels, killer legs, sexy lips and at least a c-cup, but Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t quite fit that description I guess? Too bad… Keep on searching, James!

(after the hormones have settled down) I wouldn’t say no to a return of Poobah, Montella or Ranieri. Mazzarri is also ok in my book because I liked his Sampdoria and Napoli sides. Plus, that way we could have two Walters running the place! You see, I like fiery, badass coaches. I want him to look like a boss, genre Trapattoni, Capello or Zeman. No more Mr Nice Guy and boring press conferences. Work your ass off, respect the badge and deserve your place on the team.

6) Flip it around, suppose Sabatini is shown the door, who's your ideal candidate? What qualities must they have to lead Roma over the next five to ten years?

I must admit I know very little about Italian sporting directors, I only know some of their names. Baldini, Prade, Corvino, Branca, Moggi, Marotta,... Napoli’s DS (Riccardo Bigon, apparently) is a talented one. I heard good things about Pantaleo Corvino from Dhaw so I’ll go with that one. Why? Because he’s frikkin’ Dhawstradamus, that’s why!

(after some Wikipedia investigations) Corvino apparently discovered/signed players like Vucinic, Miccoli, Chevanton, Bojinov, Berbatov, Osvaldo, Jovetic, Gilardino, Vargas and Toni during his Lecce and Fiorentina days. I’m in! Then again, Branca has Diego Milito, Sneijder, Lucio and Eto’o on his résumé. Difficult one!

7) Lastly, let's assume calmer heads prevail and the whole band comes back, what must they do to launch a serious assault on Juventus? Is there one purchase or one sale that must be made? Is there one thing in particular Garcia must do differently?

As Elza from Frozen would say: "Let it gooo Bren, let it gooooo." At least for this season and the season afterwards. I fear we might have to reschedule our Scudetto plans for a while since we’re looking at another rebuild this Summer (loan deals that end, old players to offload, free some wages). Especiallly the defence will once again need a revamp. I can name only three players that I really want to see again next season: Morgan, Castan and Manolas. The rest plays second fiddle or is unnecessary. Plus, in midfield and atack we got some guys who aren’t 100% owned by Roma like Ibarbo, Radja, Ucan and Paredes. Lots of work to do for Sabatini… Or someone else, who knows. Roma’s a strange place.

If we truly want to bring in quality, we’ll at least need to sell one big name for sure. We can’t rely on Champions League money only. Pjanic, Ljajic, Radja, Manolas, pick one. And if Rudi’s gone in Summer, Gervinho will follow in his footsteps.

Ideally, just survive the season while securing CL, rebuild some more, aim for the title in 2-3 years time. Sounds an awfully lot like last Summer and the Summer before. Didn’t I tell you Romanistasses have patience?