“Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”
- Pink Floyd, Time.
Watching Daniele De Rossi grow from a promising midfielder to one of the best in the game to a veteran of a thousand battles has been a joy that I won’t change for nothing in the world. As much as I love Totti, I only started watching him play back in 2005, but DDR I have been watching for pretty much his entire career; to see him go from a fresh-faced young man to a bearded warrior willing to kill for this club is an absolute honor and privilege.
Which makes this all the more painful to write: Dani is not what it used to be. Can it be a problem? It shouldn’t be, if the club plays its cards right.
It’s no secret for anybody that De Rossi’s season hasn’t been the greatest so far; our beloved captain has looked shaky at times in midfield and he had some subpar performances. His positioning has been put into question, his legs are not working for him the same way as before and his passing has been surprisingly heavy at times. But this isn’t some horrid form or anything similar; it’s just the nature of time, just like the famous Pink Floyd song.
Since Zeman’s last tenure at Rome back in 2012, Dani’s performances and decline have been debated. It’s only nature because he’s not getting any younger and that was when his performances started a negative upheaval that was, in retrospective, the beginning of him entering his veteran years.
Now in 2017, the new Capitano is not doing himself any favors with these sorts of performances. I don’t think he’s aging quickly, as the title of the article says; I think he’s just aging. And that, when it comes to professional footballers, means only one thing: time for a change.
Gonalons’ quality performance against Chelsea was a proof that Roma can play in the high level without Dani–that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth (I’m not saying the Gonalons is Dani’s successor, by the way; I’m just trying to make a point). And just like Roma is getting used to life without Francesco on the team—we were already getting used to not seeing him as a starter in his last couple of years—we have to do the same with Dani for both parts’ sake; him starting every match is not good for the team and it’s not good for him in terms of confidence and feeling useful for the club.
Can he still play an important role for the team? Hell yes! Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes were vital for Manchester United’s last successful teams and they were older than Dani now; the key was that Sir Alex Ferguson managed his minutes so they wouldn’t get exhausted during the season. It’s time to rotate Dani; Eusebio has to give him time to rest his legs and his mind while giving the young guns a chance. He’s a fighter and every team needs grinta; he’s a great mind and every team needs that; he’s a leader and he’s our leader. His passing would get back to his best once he’s rested, his physical presence would get better once he stops playing every match –Eusebio is slowly doing that- and his experience would be essential to the team’s endeavors in the coming months and years.
Time goes by without us noticing, like Pink Floyd’s song says in a beautiful way. This stage in Dani’s career is not a bad thing; it just means he’ll have to adapt to a new set of circumstances, but he’s still quality and he can still provide something for the cause–the key lies in him not overdoing it.
Sooner or later, time caught up with all of us.