When the historians tell the tale of Roma’s 2016-2017 season, they won’t rehash Edin Dzeko’s epic goal haul, Mohamed Salah’s breakout season, the case of ACLitis from the summer or even Roma’s blasé uniforms. No, this season will be remembered for one thing, and one thing only, the cold war between two of the most beloved men in the history of the club, Francesco Totti and Luciano Spalletti.
While Totti wasn’t exactly option number during Spalletti’s triumphant return to Roma in the spring of 2016, he nevertheless had a role as Roma’s de facto closer. Totti did his best Mariano Rivera impression last season, bailing out Roma several times with several late goals and his still peerless playmaking skills.
But this season, in what many other than Totti himself have proclaimed as his last, Er Pupone has been cast as a bit player, garnering less significant minutes than Thomas Pariah Vermaelen. However—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—it has worked out. With Totti watching from the sidelines, Roma has amassed 87 goals, tied for a club record, while earning 84 points, damn near a club record, and while the football wasn’t quite as pretty without it, it was no less effective.
The reason? Luciano Spalletti. The Grand Imperial Poobah has painted a masterpiece this season, transforming Radja Nainggolan into a potent attacking threat, instilling a new found confidence into Edin Dzeko, turning Emerson Palmieri into a stud, and even getting serviceable minutes out of Juan Jesus—seriously, look it up.
Point being, while he is not without his flaws, Spalletti has proven himself to be the man for this job. Not only has he broke new records with his squad, he’s done so while surviving the slings and arrows of Rome’s media during Totti’s presumptive swan song, an unenviable task if ever there was one. And unless Carlo Ancelotti becomes available, there may be no better option on the market when you factor in all the internal and external considerations eternally at play in the Eternal City.
While I’ll leave it to the sports historians to decide who plays the role of Ronald Reagan and who’s cast as Mikhail Gorbachev in this particular cold war, there can be no debate, the Totti v. Spalletti rift, whether it’s real or not, was and is the story of this dwindling season.
All of which leads us to the question at the top—assuming the two factors are mutually exclusive, would you risk losing Luciano Spalletti for one proper final season for Francesco Totti, or would Totti’s still sharp skills be better utilized, and Roma more successful, under a different manager anyway?
Make a decision
This poll is closed
One more year for Totti
Several more of Spalletti