With such a tumultuous season in the books, I thought I'd assemble the news team and see if we could take the pulse of these team after 38 weeks that saw everything under sun. Roma's 2015-2016 season started off full of optimism. Sure, Rudi Garcia's side was woeful for much of 2015, but with several new players brought on board, and several more coming into their own, Roma seemed primed to mount a serious title charge, but then things went south. While Luciano Spalletti was able to reverse course, he simply had too much ground to cover, leaving Roma just shy of second place.
So, with that in mind, let's hear what the crew thinks about the season gone by.
Give us a quick 3-4 sentence synopsis of Roma's season. What went right, what went wrong?
Bren: It's pretty obvious what went wrong, Garcia simply ran out of ideas and the team ran out of faith in him. He certainly deserved to come back for a third season, but it was painfully obvious he lost the team early on and should've been replaced around the Holidays at the latest. So while Spalletti was able to work miracles, he simply had too deep a hole to dig out of.
Sam: Oddly enough this season's end result actually met my preseason expectations. However, this doesn't really take into account the catastrophic cluster fuck of a performance by management over the 2015/16 duration. Holding onto Garcia for as long as they did may yet spectacularly backfire in August and the marginalisation of the ultras suggested Jimmy and Co were out of their depth. But the 2016 Totti fiasco.... Wow. On the field, I think pretty much all the players not named Dzeko can be proud of their efforts. The boys showed a lot of balls under some less than stellar circumstances.
Kevin: I agree with Sam on this one, things went right on the pitch, even under Garcia as he struggled to keep his head above water. Remember the Florenzi goal? Hard to believe that was earlier this season. Where things went wrong was the timing of the managerial change, as those precious few matches management spent waffling on the decision will now come back to haunt the team in mid-August.
JonAS: Rudi Garcia went wrong, Luciano Spalletti went right, that's it basically. I have rarely seen such a difference between two halves of the season. One has to wonder where we had finished if Roma appointed Spal earlier...
Roma fell three agonizing points short of securing second place, which matches standout as the biggest wasted opportunities?
Bren: During Rudi's time, probably the 1-1 draw with Torino where they conceded a late penalty, or the 3-3 draw with Chievo in early January where they pissed away a two goal lead, went up 3-2 then conceded an 85th minute goal to drop two points. For Spal, I'd go with the 3-3 draw with Atalanta, again blow a two goal lead, though Totti came back and saved the draw, which was amazing.
Kevin: Bren's spot on here, nothing more to add really.
JonAS: When looking at the final standings, it's frustrating to know Roma lost 4 points against Hellas, the last-placed team of Serie A (two 1-1 draws). So look no further than that. Then again, it's so typically Roma, what would a true Roman season be without some good ‘ol draws or losses against clearly inferior opponents?
Sam: I'm going to go with the Milan game at home, Rudi's 1-1 swansong. This was first game that I was seeing live at the Olimpico since 2011 and was a thoroughly galling and demoralising experience. Sort of like picking up an old musical instrument you hadn't touched in a few years only to find you are unable to make anything sound remotely as good as what you used to. Thanks Rudi.
Okay, so which match was Roma's best--the one that truly showed what this club is capable of?
Bren: Roma's 4-1 victory over Fiorentina comes to mind. All four goals were just prime examples of Spalletti football--direct, synchronous attacking, give and goes in the 18 and beautifully threaded long balls that unlock the defense. It was amazing and really makes you realize how poorly Garcia utilized his players towards the end.
Kevin: Roma's 5-0 victory over Palermo also comes to mind, for me at least. While the Fiorentina match was obviously more aesthetically pleasing football, in the Palermo match Roma showed that they're capable of bossing a lower caliber team, which has been notoriously difficult in the past. Not necessarily on their best day, Roma enjoyed the lion's share of possession and broke down Palermo's defense five times en route to winning a match that they've been known to bottle.
JonAS:Roma - Chievo for obvious reasons (I saw it live in the Olimpico) and because they just totally dominated that one. If only they could start each game against minnows with that mentality, we'd easily win the Scudetto. Lazio - Roma 1-4 is close second, again, for obvious reasons.
Sam: I'm going to go against the grain here. I really enjoyed our two performances against Real Madrid. It was close to the Roma I first fell in love with; clearly overmatched but still carving out wonderful chances that just never seemed to go in. Match of the season has to be the 3-2 Totti Triumph over Torino. Pure emotion - stick that in your moneyball Jimmy!
Now that we have some perspective, what was the biggest difference between Garcia's Roma and Spalletti's Roma? Was it purely tactics, personnel changes, or something else entirely?
Bren: It has to be tactics, right? Spalletti made more changes in a month than Garcia made over the final 18 months of his tenure here. Then once the wins started rolling in, the players seemed to jump on board. Garcia was just a flash in the pan, an admittedly fun one at first, but he never adjusted when the moment called for it.
Kevin: Tactics FTW. Players get behind managers that know what they're doing on the pitch, it's that simple.
JonAS: Kevin and Bren for the win! Back to the basics, the ABC of football. Ow and Spalletti's profound love for an atypical centre forward (Perotti) while Rudi chose a more sturdy striker who was made out of wood (Dzeko).
Sam: What does FTW mean?
Alright, so what is Spalletti's biggest flaw? What must he change ahead of next season?
Bren: I still find his substitution patterns somewhat strange, he sat on them until the 60 or 70th minute several times this year. That could possibly be representative of his lack of faith in his bench, but it was a noticeable issue this season. With that in mind, he needs to settle on some sort of rotation pattern next season.
Kevin: Substitutions, Spalletti's biggest flaw, is slowly but surely improving to the point that it's not much of a problem anymore outside of the occasional head scratching decision. I agree with Bren though that he needs to find a solid rotation of players next season.
JonAS: Baldness is the new perfect. No single coach is without his flaws so we might as well accept them. Maybe, just maybe, I want Spalletti to think of a 3-5-2/ 3-4-3 or even 3-3-1-3. It's doable when you look at the players at his disposal (Digne, Flo, Radja, Stroot, Perotti, Salah, Totti, Pjanic,...). So many possibilities and opportunities to create magic.
Sam: I'm not sure he has reconciled the whole Totti and De Rossi issue. With that said, I'm looking forward to him having a chance to work with his players over whatever stupid pre-season tour we do that undermines our preparations before the Champions League qualifiers. I seriously rate Spal and am optimistic at our chances next season.
Champions League Qualification in August--too much too soon, or will this jumpstart Roma's 2016-2017 campaign?
Bren: As much as I'm disappointed Roma didn't land second place, I think this is a good thing. Meaningful matches will keep everyone in check and hopefully limit any summer malaise they might incur in the post-Euros pre Serie A gap.
Kevin: I think it's definitely a good thing; Spalletti's already had about a half season to readjust to life in the capital, and this squad (assuming it's kept together) is firing on all cylinders heading into next season, having won five straight matches to close out this season.
JonAS: Well, at least they won't be in vacation modus in August, Saba and Spalletti need to get their sh*t together fast in the Summer (figuratively of course, imagine the smell at Trigoria). Transfers, tactic, fitness... Also, a lot of money is on the line here and it can already make or break the season before it has even started. Plus, qualification means more Roma games, always a plus in my book!
Sam: Sorry guys, what the hell team have you been following? Roma and must-win, high pressure matches sit together like oil and water. This has all kinds of disaster written all over it.
Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on any of these questions, or even better, pose your own.