While much has been made about the tumultuous nature of 2016, the fact of the matter is that it was a year like any other. No better, no worse. Eso si que es. It is what it is. Horrors and atrocities, scientific breakthroughs and remarkable feats of engineering, love and loss, profit and failure. The cycle repeats, only the names and faces change, so this won’t piece won’t lament the loss of certain celebrities or the actions of elected officials.
No, this is about something different. Something elating, something confounding, something frustration and something fantastic, AS Roma.
January is, in some ways, the high point of any given year, the time when your faith in yourself and in humanity is renewed. For Roma, last January was anything but a time for optimism. Rudi Garcia had lost the locker room and the product on the pitch was mired in mediocrity; the club was going nowhere fast—2016 seemed destined to disappoint, but then something wonderful happened.
The appointment of Luciano Spalletti, and the additions of Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti, not only revitalized the stagnant attack, but bolstered spirits all across the Romaverse, as the Giallorossi surged to one of its most successful calendar years on record. Given that turnaround and that success, you might think everything is copasetic in the Eternal City, but you’d be sorely mistaken.
With the margins between Juventus and Roma razor thin, where every decision and every little stroke of luck can potentially cost Roma millions, it only makes sense to see where you can trim some fat off the edges.
So with that in mind, here are a few remedies that might make Roma leaner and meaner.
We’ll start with the most obvious one, Roma’s deplorable record in the physio room. While the catastrophic knee injuries suffered by Antonio Rüdiger, Mario Rui, Alessandro Florenzi, and even a couple players in the youth ranks, were disconcerting, they were ultimately freak accidents. I’m not an expert in kinesiology, but I can’t imagine there are many training methods aimed at preventing ligaments from snapping, but the sheer number of niggling little thigh and groin strains this club suffers should make you question their training and/or remediation methods.
So whether it’s new methods, new insights or a completely different training schedule, something has to change.
Beat Who You’re Supposed to Beat
While we all had high hopes that Roma would topple Juventus a few weeks ago, and truth be told, after the first 15 minutes or so it was a dead heat, the real bogeyman haunting Roma’s Scudetto dreams are the losses and dropped points against clubs like Empoli, Cagliari, Atalanta and even Fiorentina. Between those four fixtures, Roma dropped 10 collective points, had they even taken half of those, Roma would be in first place. Matches like these can no longer happen if this club is to take the leap to the next level.
Honestly, this is a blanket resolution, one we can apply each and every year. Roma is often her own worst enemy.
Get to Europe and Stay in Europe
Prestige and money may be the bane of a true Buddhist’s existence, but in the world of calcio, they’re as essential as water and air. Prestige begets money and money begets prestige, and neither one can exist for long without the benevolent graces of the Champions League. Sure, I’ll cheer like hell if Roma makes it to the finals of the Europa League, but that’s not the prize we want.
Roma doesn’t have to win the Champions League, but regularly qualifying and advancing in the world’s most glorious competition will go a long way to boosting the bottom line and giving Roma some much needed street cred on the global scene.
By the by, Roma’s lack of Champions League action also impacts CdTs pageviews. So sort it out, James!
Depth, Depth and More Depth
As we’re so often fond of saying, Roma’s top XI is actually quite stout, stocked with top players at nearly every position. With Edin Dzeko in the form of his life, the one glaring weakness from last season’s starting lineup has been eradicated. Kostas Manolas and Antonio Rüdiger form one of the best tandems in the league, the midfield trio is tough, versatile and effective, while Mohamed Salah is one of the hottest properties in the game. But beyond them? Yeesh.
Granted, some of this has been mitigated with the additions of Perotti and El Shaarawy, not to mention the emergence of Emerson Palmieri and Federico Fazio, but there is precious little behind the midfield trio—Gerson and Paredes simply have no defined role yet—and literally no backup center forward. Until these issues are remedied, Roma is an injury or suspension away from crisis.
Throwing away the fatigue factor, having the ability to throw different wrinkles into any given match, namely an actual attacking midfielder, will help Spalletti keep opponents guessing.
Give Totti Whatever He Wants
Francesco Totti’s diminished role this season, thanks in large part to those previously mentioned spate of minor injuries sweeping through Trigoria, pales in comparison to last year’s low water mark. However, much like last season, when Totti has played, he’s been instrumental, chipping in two goals and six assists in only 11 appearances (all comps).
While this season was Totti’s nominal farewell tour, he has professed several times and to several different outlets that, if he feels good, he’ll continue playing, and as his performance indicates, the spark and the effectiveness are still there in spades. Considering all that he has achieved in the past two decades, and the numerous times he’s pulled the club’s ass from the fire in the past several, Totti deserves the right to dictate his own future, so if he wants to play another year at age 41, Roma needs to abide that request.
So those are my five Roma resolutions for 2017, what are yours?