Now that the speculation is over and Luciano Spalletti is a Roma manager once more, I thought it would be a good idea to gather the crew together and ask: now what? Now that James Pallotta has his man, how will Roma change? What makes us so sure that the Spalletti-Roma marriage will work the second time around?
Okay, let your heart soar. What were your initial thoughts/feelings when you heard that Luciano Spalletti was returning to Roma?
Bren: As I'm writing this, Spalletti is still in Miami, so I'm trying to restrain myself until its officially official, but suffice to say, I'm pretty stoked. Spalletti was the man in charge when I first became a serious fan of this club, so it definitely resurrected a few memories. Beyond that, and more importantly, I think he's the right man for the job--the right tactics and the right temperament. This isn't merely a feel good reunion; Spalletti is the best man for the job.
NANF: Happiness, it is like rekindling a fire with an old flame, any of the negative thoughts I had when he first left have simply vanished, only the good memories remain. I am actually looking forward to Sunday, it isn't just another day in the week anymore. For ninety minutes I can forget about everything else and get back to Roma.
Kevin: What a time to be alive, I never thought I would see Spalletti return to Roma! Like Bren, I first became a serious fan of the club during TGIP's first reign. While the marriage may have only lasted four years the first time (granted that's a lifetime for a Roma manager), both parties seem to have changed, which bodes well for the future.
masonio: I've had modest chest pains for about 24 hours now. There's a lump in my throat and a knot or three in my tummy. I feel sick but the good kind or at least, the only kind people sick in the head would feel good about.
Sam: When the rumour morphed into a probably reality I was as excited as a puppy that had just burst into a cupboard full of shoes. My favourite Roma memories are tied to Luciano and I am positively giddy when I think about the sort of football he is going to get Roma to play. It is also equally a massive relief that we didn't go for Conte and that Roma has a chance to win back the cynical and disgruntled.
JonAS: I felt all fuzzy and dizzy inside, a bit warm too. Reminded me of my first visit to this site called po..... errrr, political-intelligence.com. Yeah, I was immediately sold. Most of all because I can lively remember the Spalletti era. Simply put: It was a good time to be a Giallorosso, more of the same please!
Alright, so what should we expect in the short term? What will be the biggest difference on the pitch or in the locker room?
Bren: This one is a bit harder to nail down because, as we saw against Genoa, the players clearly loved Rudi Garcia, but Spalletti has a standing relationship and respect with the men that matter most, Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti. Besides, once the other key players (Nainggolan, Pjanic and Florenzi) realize how he'll up their game, everything should hopefully be gravy.
NANF: No expectations only love, love every minute of it because there is a good chance this is the last time we are ever going to witness this. Win, lose, or draw it is going to be magical.
Kevin: I think every team that jettisons a manager mid campaign receives an injection of life from the new manager, so we should definitely expect a boost on the pitch. It's harder to say how the locker room will react, but it's helpful that Spalletti already has established relations with Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti.
masonio: Magic. That is my only expectation. One of the biggest differences for me will be that Roma will be watchable again. And I mean that in the least exaggerated sense. Roma will be alive.
Dhaw: Putting the Magic back in La Maggica. One game at a time.
Sam: Don't get too hung up on the results, I am over the moon that Totti's twilight will not be wasted and that we can be excited about Roma matches again.
JonAS:Less boredom, more spectacle. Enough of those ugly 1-1 draws, if we go down it want it to be as a group, as a pack of wolves. Also, I expect a lot more direct play and less ball possession, more movement and ideas, especially in midfield. Now this is where Florenzi, Falque and Radja come in, three very dynamic and versatile midfielders. I'm excited to see what Luciano has got in store for them.
If we look back at Spalletti's initial Roma stint, what must he do differently to put Roma over the top, or will the increased stability be enough to cure his previous shortcomings?
Bren: Hmm, I guess your answer to this one depends on what you viewed as the cause for his downfall lo those many years ago. Did he simply run out of steam, did his tactics and voice turn stale, or was he a victim of Roma's perpetual uncertainty during that era? More than anything else, he needs to be flexible, tactically and personnel wise, but his ability to understand and adapt to Italian football is leaps and bounds ahead of anyone the club has head since the American takeover.
Kevin: The stability of the American regime will fix some of Spalletti's shortcomings, but likely not all of them. The rest depends on how much he's grown since leaving Roma; the best managers are always growing and evolving.
masonio: I'm of the opinion that he did do no wrong. It wasn't perfect or flawless but I never questioned switching from football to hockey as my primary sport to watch. Every cycle comes to an end and so shall this one hopefully when the time is right.
Dhaw: Not be as nice as he has been before. Lay down some rules and make the little crybabies of ours follow it. Work on the mentality and improve it one game at a time. The onus is also on the players now. They have to stand up and make it count or else some of them can follow Rudi out of the door.
Sam: I'm of the opinion that Spalletti was more a victim of the dodgy player sales and squabbling boardroom rather than anything he did coaching wise. Fingers crossed he can develop a solid relationship with Jimmy and the new DS (already calling it), so that he can produce a team without compromises.
NANF: The increased stability should be a major factor.
JonAS: Agreed. Under the Sensi's is what sometimes chaotic but these Americans want results and look at the big picture. The difference will be the financial section: Spal already has a big striker and aerial threat in Dzeko, while Stroot, Radja, Castan, Pjanic, Morgan and Salah were all magnificent buys since US and A took over. Spal won't ask for a Ronaldo, Neuer or Iniesta, Roma can't compete with the really big ones. But I reckon he wants better things than a Gyomber, Emerson or Vainqueur.
Which player stands to benefit most from Spalletti's tactics and management?
Bren: I mean, take your pick, right? But it absolutely has to be Alessandro Florenzi, doesn't it? Simone Perrotta said it himself several years ago, he's a younger and more clinical version of Roma's famous #20. I can easily see his standing with club and country increasing due to Spalletti--simply having a steady role is enough of a reason to think Florenzi will flourish. I also think Digne could be MASSIVE under Spalletti, so I'll be watching loan closely over the summer.
Kevin: Of players currently on the Roma roster, Alessandro Florenzi would benefit the most for the reasons Bren mentioned above. I would be curious to see what Spalletti does with Leandro Paredes and Antonio Sanabria as well, but we'll have to wait until next year to see that.
masonio: Totti, since he'll play. Maybe Dzeko, maybe current fringe players like Salih if they are given more chances. Paredes after the summer. Everyone should. But seriously, Paredes.
Dhaw: Radja. He'll be damn important under Luciano. Important piece of his puzzle.
Sam: Dzeko stands out for me, as he always wished for someone like the big Bosnian during his last reign. Of course seeing Totti sitting behind him should give everyone else on the park a boost as well.
NANF: Echoing Masonio's and Sam's thoughts on Totti, although all of our attack should benefit greatly.
JonAS: I'm going for a surprising name this time: De Sanctis. Spalletti never got the trustworthy keeper he deserved (Doni? Curci? Zotti? Pipolo? Arthur?). In Morgan Batman now he finally has an Italian commanding keeper in goal, with a lot of presence. I doubt he'll choose for Woj.
We've still got a few weeks left in the winter transfer market, what does Spalletti need (in terms of acquisitions) to ensure Roma a top three finish this season?
Bren: I think it's a simple as getting some depth behind Lucas Digne, Miralem Pjanic and the central defense, of course, out and out upgrades would be fantastic. But if we look at the early names connected to us--De Sciglio, Adriano and Lorenzo Tonelli--its clear that he or they realize the defense must be addressed. Id also continue my stumping for Davide Santon and Cyril Thereau, both of whom would provide depth and flexibility to Spalletti's bench.
Kevin: An upgrade on the defensive front. Roma should sign at least one more centre back (not necessarily of starting caliber) and one right back (of starting caliber). If that happens, I think Spalletti can finish top three this season.
masonio: Defensive depth and perhaps a creative forward if Gervinho leaves.
Sam: An actual Serie A quality defence. I think the rest is more or less capable of producing results over the short term.
NANF: Shed the dead weight and bring in a right back, although I wouldn't be surprised if Maicon found his way back into the lineup under Spalletti.
JonAS: A RB, since Florenzi's now a true midfielder again and Torosidis is over the hill. A LB to give Digne a breather (he'll probably leave in June as well now that Rudi is gone so best make it a starting LB like Criscito or Adriano). Benatia fits Luciano's style too. If he's too expensive, go for Tonelli from Empoli. And if it's possible, recall Paredes in case Pjanic has one of his usual dips during the second part of the season.
Okay, fast forward to the summer. Heading into his first full season, give us a couple players (realistic ones) that are ideally suited to Spalletti's tactics?
Bren: Hmm, well I still maintain they MUST bring Digne back, but the rest of the market will depend on several things, namely, will they have a spot in the Champions League next year and what will Spalletti do with Dzeko? There are rumblings that Edinson Cavani wants out of PSG...me wanty. But I'd settle for a Mehdi Benatia return, and if Pjanic is sacrificed, Leandro Paredes could be an ideal and cheap replacement, one who could flourish with Baldy.
masonio: Leandro Paredes, Lucas Digne if they can keep him, Kevin Strootman if one can dream. Wait, you meant non-Roma players? Umm, I'm kind of extremely out of the loop with football and transfer situations (thank you Roma) but if Axel Witsel can be brought from Zenit I think it would be a coup.
Dhaw: Sirigu, Criscito. I have been wanting Criscito for 2 years now, it will be fantastic to have him this time around under Luciano. I'd also like to see Adem or Iturbe come back and play under Luciano. I think they will flourish.
Sam: I'd love to see Lavezzi streaming forward under Luciano. Paredes and Strootman are obvious candidates and then just for fun I'll say Eriksen.
NANF: Make it the summer of reunions, bring back Benatia.
JonAS:I already mentioned Benatia and Paredes. I'd ship Woj out and go for Perin or Sirigu while Ljajic might be tempted to go back and enjoy life under Poobah's regime. Glik or Peres from Torino for the defence. One name I also want to point out is Mertens from Napoli. Hugely underrated but a damn fine winger. If Dzeko doesn't work out under Spal, go Belgian and aim for Lukaku. And I still got a soft spot for that other Belgian, the player from my home town, Jan Vertonghen from Tottenham.
Speaking of which, will Walter Sabatini be the one brokering the deals come June?
Bren: I certainly hope not. His time has also come.
Kevin: I would be surprised.
masonio: It doesn't look likely. But if not him, then who?
Dhaw: He should get far far away from Roma when summer arrives. Done with him.
NANF: Outlook not so good.
JonAS: I'll say one thing: the heavy fog around Rome should be gone come July.
Thats it for now. Just 48 more hours.