The doom and gloom is always lurking in Rome. It is that distant cloud that becomes a storm. One step forward, two steps back. Just when we look to be on the right path, a thunderous truth shakes our foundation. Like Cacombo says to Candide, “what is optimism?” The boy replies, “it's a mania for insisting that all is well when things are going badly.”
Voltaire aside, Roma’s recent loss to Juventus has dealt a blow to us optimists. This will not be the year we’ve long been waiting for. But hey, we’re in second still! The gap is only seven points! We can do this. We can... But does our coach believe? It is becoming more evident that we will see yet another coaching change at the end of this year.
According to an interview with France Football to be published next month, Spalletti has asserted his distaste for second place, stating, “if I can’t win, I’m leaving.” To stir the pot even more, CEO Umberto Gandini has responded to the coach’s ultimatum, speaking with Sky Sport Italia:
Spalletti’s future? It’s in his hands. He’s doing everything possible to earn a renewal, judging by results. We’ll be ready to sit down whenever he wants. We hope to reach our objectives. The KO in Turin doesn’t detract us from our path. Yes, there’s a degree of bitterness and disappointment, however we’ve shown the ability to compete. In any case, our path is in line with expectations.
Expectations. Arguably, the club’s expectations don’t equate with Spalletti’s. Sure, a champions league place and a hearty effort in the Europa League sounds nice. Maybe even a final spot in the Coppa Italia. But that is not what the coach wants. Spalletti doesn’t want a good run, he wants silverware. He wants to win, and rightfully so. Furthermore, Luciano is a man of his word. If he states he will leave if the team can’t win, he will leave.
Back in 2009, Spalletti gave a similar warning. After a disappointing season where Roma placed sixth, he voiced a need for summer reinforcements. Still in the Sensi era, the bereft club could only afford mediocre players, Nicolas Burdisso and Marco Motta, to name a few. While the former proved to be a solid signing, it became clear that Spalletti wasn’t going to have the squad he wanted or needed. Opening the season with two successive defeats against Genoa and Juventus, Spalletti kept his word and resigned.
So what is different between then and now? A whole lot, actually. The club’s finances are stronger, the squad more competitive, a new stadium on the horizon, a promising future. However, can this current squad live up to Spalletti’s aspirations? And if they don’t?
This interview with Football France is likely being blown up out of proportion. We are on the brink of the mid-season gossip cycle, and everyone’s words are on radar. Of course every coach wants to win. Duh. Spalletti came back to Roma with a clear goal of finishing what he started in his first stint. Yet, his patience is thin. If Spalletti is an optimist he’ll stick around and see this out. If he is a pessimist he’ll be gone if Roma slumps. But, if he is a realist, well then, where does that leave us?