Well, this is it, the final match of the Serie A season. Under normal, or rather ideal circumstances, I'd say this was a strange season, but Roma has certainly had their fair share of mid-season managerial turnover in recent...decades. In the 2000s alone, Roma has changed managers 12 times...12 times! The average lifespan on Roma's touchline is a mere 1.3 years, that's absurd, isn't it?
Rant over. Roma closes out the 2015-2016 season with critical trip to the San Siro to face 7th place AC Milan, but it's not just the Rossoneri we should be worried about tomorrow evening. While Roma has had third place sewed up for a couple of weeks now, second place, and the automatic berth in the Champions League group stage that comes with it, remains up for grabs as Napoli is only two excruciating points ahead of Roma.
With A Little Help From Their Friends
The problem, of course, is that our friends, the already-relegated Frosinone, are facing Napoli on the road. While Roma's quasi neighbors have vowed to give an honest effort, chances are third place is where we'll be come Saturday night. So while we can wring our hands over all the dropped points from Rudi Garcia's tailspin or during the club's mid-to-late April swoon, third place is probably what Roma deserves. (If you're so inclined, here's the Joe Cocker version)
Besides, the more appropriate scapegoat would be Gonzalo Higuain. You know him, he's scored 45% of Napoli's goals this season. Bottom line, Napoli had the best horse in this particular race and until Roma can land that bell cow, they're going to struggle in these down to the wire races.
Okay, here we go. Week 38 preview, my bad...
Better Learn Your ABDs
As in, Anyone But Dzeko. Throughout the week, the media has taunted us with allegations that Edin Dzeko may start this match. Why on earth Spalletti would do that is beyond me, particularly when something, far fetched though it might be, is on the line--is he trying to give him one last injection of confidence, boost his resale value, play some sort of cruel practical joke? Well, now that Diego Perotti has been left off this week's squad list, it seems as though we'll soon have an answer.
With Francesco Totti seemingly having settled into a new role, fresh off his 600th career appearances and seemingly close to a new contract, there isn't much other drama surrounding the club ahead of this match--weird, right?--so let's take a quick look at the club, section by section, and speculate on their role next season.
Like him or lump him, Dzeko has three years remaining on his deal, so unless Roma finds a suitable trading partner, he ain't going anywhere, so we might as well get used to the sight of him missing sitters. Outside of that loveable oaf (he does seem like a decent guy, you have to admit), Mohamed Salah, Diego Perotti and, should he come back, Stephan El Shaarawy will team up and form Voltron for an entire season next year.
The middle of the park isn't quite as lucid, I'm afraid. With Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic appearing in new rumors every week, god only knows if one, both or neither will return, leaving the midfield ostensibly to Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman, William Vainqueur and Leandro Paredes. In other words, an aging legend, a man returning from multiple surgeries, a capable backup and a potential future star. You should feel uneasy.
Behind them things are just as murky. While Kostas Manolas is under contract and getting better by the week, beyond him there is quite literally nothing guaranteed. Antonio Rüdiger's loan option remains uncertain, ditto Lucas Digne, Norbert Gyomber is...well, Norbert Gyomber. Leandro Castan's future is a mystery and Alessandro Florenzi remains an attacker in defender's clothes. Suffice it to say, they need to lock down Digne and Rüdiger and get some depth behind Manolas.
At the back, Wojciech Szczesny figures to be a one and done candidate. With Alisson's star on the rise and heading for Roma, there doesn't seem like a ton of room for both men, but it isn't inconceivable to think Roma will keep Woj for one more year while easing Alisson into life in Italy via Coppa Italia matches.
Needless to say, Roma faces yet another tumultuous summer, something that probably won't be far from their minds as they take the pitch tomorrow. In a sense, they really have nothing to lose tomorrow--they know they have to beat Milan, and that's it, that's all they can control.
But, and this is a big one, if Frosinone does Roma a solid, then...