It's safe to say many of us were let down by yesterday's 1-1 draw with Verona. With visions of Spalletti leading his new charges to a romping 3-0 victory dancing through our heads, our anticipation may have gotten the best of us. With only a few hours of training under his belt, expectations and that first hit of nostalgia were always bound to be out of line with reality. With that in mind, we sat down and talked about just that, expectations and next moves.
It was only one match, and Spalletti only had a few days with the team, but give us your initial reaction to Roma's draw with Verona.
Bren: Disappointment for sure, but it'll pass. I thought, even with such a quick turnaround, they'd be able to handle a Verona side missing Luca Toni, but it was really a matter of poor finishing and that dreadful series between De Rossi and Szczesny that led to chaos that eventually led to Castan's penalty. Point being, there are/were ample positives to take away from this match.
Dhaw: I only wanted to see good movement and effort and wanted them to try out those training ground moves on the pitch during the game and they certainly did that and that's a good start for me. If they can do those things in just 3 days, then it's safe to say that good things will happen down the line.
Sam: The moment I saw Pazzini's name on that sheet, I shuddered. Our execution was really off and that was disappointing, this was a classic win ugly game where unfortunately we didn't do enough to win. To be fair this probably releases a bit of the pressure that has been built with Spalletti's return and it's handy being seen as a massive underdog prior to the Juve game.
JonAS: I missed the first game of Spalletti 2.0, I'm ashamed to say that. Bot honestly, what can a man do after only 2 days of training? Especially one of who has such a demanding and shifting system as Luciano. The result was disappointing yes, but we will still need some time to adjust I'm afraid.I thought Hellas would have been the ideal sparring partner to test Luciano. Clearly I was wrong.
Disappointment aside, Roma had a different look and feel to them. What was the most important or most noticeable difference between Spalletti's first match and the last few months of Garcia?
Bren: I think it's the shape of the side, right? As we saw, Spalletti's XI is far more narrow than Garcia's ever was, resulting in more play through the middle and right at Dzeko. Unfortunately, the chances just didn't fall, which happens sometimes, but I was impressed by the more deliberate play and the amount of pressing they did throughout the match.
Dhaw : The central play was fun to see even if there were too many balls lost and bad passes. For once we didn't see stupid shit happening regularly on the flanks and only the flanks. The first 45 minutes it looked good but then the 2nd half was a crappy performance. My guess is that they are adding some lousy ingredient in gatorade which they drink during half-time. Maybe something wrong with the bananas as well.
Sam: Seeing the players move the ball forwards was very welcome. Also, we played out of defence with a bit more clarity, yes there were a few unwelcome backpasses, but I think overall it was still a big improvement.
JonAS: See first question. Not really in a position to judge. Though the return of the 4 2 3 1, Radja in the hole, Castan back, Flo starting in midfield and no sight of Yao all made me feel fuzzy inside... Luciano did some things a lot of tifosi asked from Garcia the last months. Good man. When looking at some grades, Castan was horrible though, a bit surprising.
Again, only one match, but are there any players on this squad who just won't fit Spalletti's tactics?
Bren: I'm holding out hope that Leandro Castan can recuperate because he'd be a great partner for either Kostas Manolas or Antonio Rudiger, but he looked awfully slow against Verona. I'm just really curious about who will be his top options off the bench, especially Falque, who seems like he could flourish as a utility forward, or disappear completely under Spalletti.
Dhaw: I don't see Salah flourishing, I still give him the benefit of the doubt because he has to understand Spalletti and do what he is asking him to do but from the very beginning I just don't rate Salah and for me he is just a mindless runner who can do few fancy things here and there but his overall game is absolutely poor. He is not someone who can be consistent in Serie A. Same thing happened at Fiorentina, same thing is happening at Roma. If Iturbe was mentally weak, then Salah is not that far behind.
Sam: Well Gervinho. Seriously though, Salah has been a bit of a question mark for me but I'm hopeful he'll sort himself out after a few weeks of Poobah's guidance. I wonder how Keita will go once he is fit again.
JonAS: Meh, if they can't understand it come July, then they're too dumb anyway, good riddance. C'mon, these are professional football players and earn a ton of money, all they need to do is follow rules, run in the right direction and kick a goddamn ball, son. This ain't no math or science. We'll see who survives the selection., still too early to tell. But I don't have a good feeling about Yao and Salah.
Dzeko had a rough game, say something nice about him.
Bren: Oof, thats a mighty tall order. Set the misses aside and he was still subpar; his passes, especially the longer, more diagonal ones, were slow and telegraphed, while he had all the grace of a preschool ballerina out there. Combine his inconsistent and inappropriate role under Garcia with all these misses, and I'm starting to wonder if he'll get the yips.
Dhaw: I like Dzeko but he hasn't done anything to prove his doubters wrong. Same mistakes over and over again. You can't be so poor in front of goal for such a long time. Something gotta give.
Sam: He is fabulously wealthy. I still think he is too good a player to continue playing so poorly, but I must say I think Sadiq makes the team look more dangerous with his enthusiasm. Edin looks like he needs a hug and nice home cooked meal.
JonAS: Errrrm, well uhm, so..... Uhm, I heared Bosnia is a big favourite for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 in Sweden? .... Good for him, good for him...
What do we think about Miralem Pjanic in that deeper role?
Bren: Hmm, mixed feelings thus far. He certainly has the ability and composure to direct the offense from back there, but you have to wonder if he's got the defensive chops to play that deep. Even if we grant him the leeway of being the offensive half of the double pivot, we already saw the potential pitfall of this move against Verona: De Rossi and Nainggolan had to cover a lot of ground and make several bailout tackles ahead of the backline--is that sustainable long term? I'm just not sure we can isolate him Pirlo-style for 90 minutes, maybe if De Rossi were ten years younger.
Dhaw: If he stays awake for 90 minutes then any role will work for him.
Sam: I like it. Sure he needs to learn and grow into it, but I think it compliments his strengths.
JonAS: Haven't really got the chance to see it live but I always saw a Pizarro role for Pjanic in Spalletti's system. He can do it obviously, he has more talent than Pek and there's a reason why PSG or Barca want him. But mentally, he's bit fragile at times. What's the up with all those Bosnians and confidence in this city anyway? He's one of the smarter guys out there, he'll do fine.
Finally, what must Spalletti address in the short term?
Bren: Finishing. I think the fluidity will come in time, especially when you look at the number of well orchestrated set pieces they pulled off against Verona; they looked fresh off the training ground. So Im confident his tactics will transpose quickly, but they must carve out a clearer niche for Salah and Florenzi; they seemed torn between two minds on Sunday.
Dhaw: Clearance. It annoys me when I see our guys make those stupid passes at the back when under pressure. Why is it so hard for them to clear the ball ? Why involve the GK so much and put your other team-mate under pressure by playing those short passes in and around our box when the opposition is attacking us ? The defenders need to understand the basics of defending and keeping the ball away from the danger zones.
Sam: Concentrating for an entire match would be nice. I think the sharpness and execution in the final third is the biggest concern for this team in the short term. Our combination play also needs work.
JonAS: Well, if I see Roma once again blew a lead and only scored once and both of this against a clearly inferior opponent and a team last-placed in the league, then it's the same broken record over and over again: defensive and offensive brainfarts. Perhaps most of them were also a bit too excited or wanted to prove themselves too much in front of the Poobah. No excuses though, a lot of works still needs to be done.