For the record: Salih Ucan had his fair share of injury problems since arriving in Rome, so he couldn’t possibly reach the numbers of a Morgan, Radja, Florenzi or Adem. But he does get called up a lot as well, his lastest call-up was last Monday against Juve. And surprise, surprise: Again, he rotted on the bench and Rudi didn’t use him. Even though he’s the only one apart from Pjanic that can actually dictate play in the middle. I’d personally put Paredes higher up the pitch, as a Totti-esque CAM/false 9. Ucan’s good in the technical aspect, has a good pass, vision, brains,... A Xavi, Verratti, Modric, Schweinsteiger, Fabregas type of guy. Plus, he’s quite a big fella (1m88). In August he was hailed here as our vice-Pjanic.
Since Mira has been underperforming lately, Salih would have been his logical replacer. Fast forward to March 2015. 25 Serie games have been played so far, Ucan only featured in one single Serie A game. I’ll let you guess which one. You have a 1/25 chance (yes, I’m a mathematical genius, move over Hawking) . A little tip: It was a 3-0 win. Ucan came on in the 89’ for Nainggolan. Yes, the 89’ minute at a 3-0 advantage (all three goals were scored in the first half). Wow, great, thanks coach! I can’t imagine how the Turk must have felt at that moment.
Soooo, what’s the problem then? What has the boy done wrong? Has he slept with a wife of one of the players? Did he break Rudi’s violin? Did he steal Walter’s private stash of Marlboro? Did he refer to AS Roma instead of AC Roma in a conversation with James Pallotta? Is he too busy filming porn movies in Rome (I didn’t made this up, someone here in CDT once said he looked like a porn star)? Who knows. Salih’s fit but untested for now. And that’s a shame. At such a young age (just turned 21 in January) the faith of the trainer and consistency are crucial for his development. How can you feel at ease at a club when even Emanuelson or Sanabria get more chances?
For long we thought Rudi simply doesn’t like playing teenagers if the stakes are high, but the sudden rise of Daniele Verde proves otherwise. If a kid is good, he gets the attention he deserves and Rudi will throw him into the pitch. Verde has 5 appearances already in Serie A and also collected some minutes in the Europa League. If Verde can do it in a such a crowded department like Roma’s attack, Salih can surely break into the team in a midfield position. Especially since Strootman’s injury and the drop in form of key figures like Daniele and Pjanic. At one point this season Radja practically played everything (Serie A and CL) and was gassed. No sign of Ucan.
To make things more mysterious: He wasn’t loaned out in January although teams like Cagliari were interested. Urby left, Ucan didn’t. Is there a love-hate relationship going on? It all started so promising during pre-season. Ucan scored on his (unofficial) debut, a friendly against the U23 of Indonesia which Roma won 3-1. After that, it kinda went downhill. Our current no 48 is still on loan so there’s actually a chance Salih will leave Roma in June with just one mere appearance under his belt. Even Loria, Wilhelmsson, Edgar Alvarez and Faty did better… Jeezs Rudi, give the boy a break already!
My dear brainiacs, have you guessed which Serie A game Ucan made his debut? The answer is Roma-Chievo on a Saturday in October. And guess which game it’s this weekend? Yep, Chievo-Roma. Ucan’s injury-free so he could play his first minutes in Serie A since October 18. It could all come full-circle again. Remarkable? Yes. Realistical? Unlikely. Disappointing? Yes.
Yet, I still catch myself hoping that Ucan will turn into a star in Rome. That he will carry this team on his shoulders when it needs him the most, Vucinic style. Against low-flying Chievo for example. Considering this is an American blog, I reckon only one slogan fits this situation. All together now: "Yes, U can!"