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Totti Today #38: The Bald and the Beautiful

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Ever since I became a priest at Chiesa di Totti, it was my goal, privilege and duty to inform, entertain and brainwash enlighten you beautiful people. So it saddens me that, when I look at my previous posts, I never took the chance to share something special. Someone special. The time is right to make amends.

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One thing I learned from Rudi Garcia’s downfall is to respect and never forget your history. Don’t ignore it, don’t hide it. Be proud of it. Learn from the mistakes or just for the sake of pure nostalgia. Things were once better, things were also much worse than now. The only constant is change and boy, the club AS Roma changed A LOT this millennium (and we still have 985 odd years to go). Some periods were amazing, magical, unbelievable. For example the eighties with Conti, Falcao, Di Bartolomei, Ancelotti, Pruzzo and four Coppe Italia. Or at the start of this millennnium: winning the Scudetto under uncle Franco and with players like Delvecchio, Batistuta, Cafu, Samuel,… Totti had long majestic hair. Ah, yes yes, good times indeed.

Yet, not all of us are (middle-)aged cranky men, some of us are fairly young compared to Roma’s age (born in 1927). So it’s only logical I don’t rewind the clocks that much. Only 9-10 years. A wise man in Chiesa once said bald men were special, sent by God to perform miracles with average/inferior material at hand (don’t know which kind of weed he was smoking that day). Yet, the man was right. Until this day, AS Roma 2005-2009 still is a milestone and peak of the club’s history. Two Coppe Italia, a Supercoppa, some memorable nights in the Champions League and a long heroic battle between the Giallorossi and Inter for the Scudetto. Roma finished second for three consecutive times. Four second places in five seasons if you count in 2009-2010, also known as the Ranieri Renaissance.

This post however is not dedicated to Claudio, though one can’t deny his Roman blood and love for the city and fans. His tenure didn’t end in a nice way (Shaktar defeat and the famous 4-3 loss in Genoa, courtesy of Simone Loria) and he deserves some redemption but I call for higher powers to clean up the mess in Rome right now. Some call for Mazzarri, others think Monty is finally ready for the big step. I even read classic fantasy calcio: Klopp and Ancelotti. But desperate times ask for desperate measures: bald men. Believe me, they can fix your sh*t. Enter Luciano ‘Poobah’ Spalletti, the man with unfinished business.

Most people know why Spalletti’s time in Rome was up: the cycle ended, the players simply gave up. For years he managed to let Roma punch above its weight and challenge teams like Real, Manchester United, Inter (the good one under Mancini) and Lyon. With, and this is his biggest achievement, no superstars whatsoever. The man just worked his magic with the players at his disposal. Back then there weren’t sugar daddies and rich Americans. For example: Luis Enrique got Pjanic, Lamela, Bojan and Stekelenburg (the last two were big name at that time). Zeman got Castan, ‘Hos, Balzaretti and Destro. Garcia got Strootman, Maicon, Radja, Benatia and Gervinho.

Now take a breath. Luciano had to do with guys like Doni, Cassetti, Tonetto, Taddei, Bovo, Kharja, Nonda, Kuffour, Antunes, Ferrari, Pit (my all-time favorite), Brighi, Esposito, Tavano, Okaka, Motta, Loria, Baptista, Diamoutene, Arthur and the list goes on. Of course I did cheat a bit and blew things out of proportion. Poobah also had a younger Totti, a fit Mexes, Chivu without his helmet, a not convicted Mancini, a beardless Daniele, a smart Perrotta, a smooth Juan, a creative Pizarro and a grumpy but massive Panucci.

But a squad consists of 24-25 men, not 8 good players and some supporting actors. Two, three injuries and it was all hands on deck, just like Garcia is experiencing now with Strootman and Castan. Still, the results Spalletti achieved with his team were out of this world. His tactic, a strikerless 4-2-3-1 with Totti as CF, would be copied by a lot of managers later on.

It doesn’t take a mastermind to figure out the magic and devastation he could create if he actually got a budget to spend and the players he wants. And that’s my main reason for a Spalletti comeback. It has been 5 years and eight months since his departure, a lot has changed in Rome (see my first paragraph). 99% of the current squad hasn’t worked with Spalletti before. Only two men: Francesco and Daniele and both should be grateful for the impact the Tuscan had on their careers. Oh, Curci and Lobont too but everyone has forgotten about those two anyway.

The trio Spalletti-Sabatini-Pallotta could bring back glory to the city or at least the word ‘fun’. Because Roma is not a happy place at the moment. The team is a beaten horse, Garcia is running out of options and this season illustrated he won’t be our Alex Ferguson as some had hoped he would be. The fans have grown tireless of the dull displays and underperforming players. The season started bright with a 15/15 but looks set to turn into a gray, mediocre one. 15 wins, 13 draws, 4 losses. It sounds plain boring.

Too long I have suppressed my love for Spalletti in my posts. I can’t carry on anymore. I’m a hopeless romantic I guess. From this day on I shall patiently await the grand return of the Poobah. The older fans will support the move, the younger fans will trust the move and be convinced in the end.

Never forget your history. Before the Ranieri Renaissance there was the Spalletti Spark. In 2005 he was introduced to us, inherited a demoralized team, turned it inside out and made history. He can do it again. Why? Because’s he’s bald, that’s why.