I don't profess to be the Ernest Hemingway of Roma writers, but I like to think that I can at least form a cogent sentence and that my love for the club and the sport itself comes across in my writing, but this season has really sucked the joy out of this process. I'd say today's performance was the final nail in the coffin, but my spirit has been dead and buried for weeks.
After being gifted a penalty in only the second minute, Roma proceeded to spend the afternoon dominating possession and spraying shots from distance. Rudi Garcia's men managed 17 shots this afternoon, nine of which came from beyond the 18-yard-box.
If one were to sum up Roma's season in one graphic, that'd be it; that could very well have been ripped from any of Roma's matches since November. Just close your eyes, kick it hard and hope it bounces off someone's ass and falls over the goal line. At this point, I think Roma would be best served by lobbying the FIGC, FIFA or UEFA to institute some sort of two-point line, wherein Radja Nainggolan's desperate 20-yarders would yield twice the results on the rare occasion in which they beat the keeper. They'd have more luck in changing the rules of the game than landing a top striker, so they might as well pocket that €40m they've got lined up for Dybala or Edinson Cavani and spend it on a Tactics 101 refresher for Garcia.
The silver lining to this perpetual gray cloud is that Roma's mastery of the 1-1 draw puts them on 58 points, level with Lazio.
Just for the hell of it, and because I'm becoming increasingly agitated with his press conferences, here are Rudi's words of wisdom du jour.
I am angry, I saw a Roma that did not play well. After Francesco Totti's penalty, we fell asleep. There was a bit more in the second half, but it was our worst first half of the season. I did not see the necessary grit and determination to take back second place. Tomorrow I need to have words with the squad.
Grit and determination, you say? You know who had that, don't you? Michael Sheehan Bradley, that's who! At this point, in his desperate attempt to save face/motivate the squad, Garcia is relying on worn out platitudes and excuses like a lack of determination. Well, you know whose feet that falls upon don't you, Rudi?
If you fail to make changes and take chances, you can't act surprised when your squad runs out of ideas. We all saw the second half, the man carrying the ball up the pitch inevitably was met by a wall, not a wall of defenders, but a wall of Roma's six midfielders, each standing bewildered at the lack of attacking space and dearth of options.
Look, Rudi Garcia has done a fine job at Roma, so many of these criticisms should be taken in context--we're
still in second place even on points with second place Lazio, after all--but I'm starting to think he's reached his ceiling as a tactician and motivator. Once a managers words fall on deaf ears, that's pretty much all she wrote.
Roma and Rudi have seven weeks remaining to lock down second place, seven weeks to recapture their lost spirit and seven weeks to save many of their jobs.
graphic via squawka.com