If you’re anything like me, your relationship with Luciano Spalletti is exceedingly complicated. He’s that ex that you just can’t seem to shake, and even though they didn’t treat you that great and the sex was, at best, okay, there’s just something about them—their voice, a smile, a laugh, whatever it might be—that always lured you back. However, you eventually reach a point where you’ve done everything you can and ignored every instinct to your own peril, and it’s just done. Simple as. That’s me with Luciano, and now that he’s headed for Inter, your college rival as it were, the scale is swaying from antipathy to outright hatred.
So, even though my hatred is still fresh, you gotta move on, so I’m growing increasingly excited/anxious about Roma’s managerial search, their sixth such venture under the American regime. And in the grand tradition of this search, we resurrected an old standby, The Future Ex-Manager Power Poll.
Back in early April we laid down some haphazard odds about Roma’s next manager, separating them into distinct categories based not so much on odds or preference, but rather varying degrees of nostalgia/common sense, with Unai Emery being the most logical (due to his connection with Monchi) and Eusebio Di Francesco being the most likely (due to his connection with the club and up and comer status).
This time around, we’ll play it purely by probability: which of these men will be the next manager to disappoint us? (Please note, the ‘synopsis’ is carried over from the April piece where applicable)
The Top Contender: Eusebio Di Francesco
EDF may not be a Roman by blood, he was born in Pescara, but he was a member of the Giallorossi for five years, including Roma’s last Scudetto in 2001. As a hard working, never glamorous midfielder, Di Francesco fits the mold of the perfect player turned manager; a heady player who got by on grit and know-how rather than Ronaldo-esque skill.
Since moving to the bench, EDF has done the unthinkable, bringing Sassuolo to the top flight and, more importantly, keeping them there for several seasons now. EDF even brought the overachieving Neroverdi to European play, thanks to his development of talents like Domenico Berardi and even Simone Zaza.
At only 47-years-old, Di Francesco is very much a managerial prospect, leading many to question if he’s ready to make the jump to Roma, but his career thus far has proven one thing, he can win. So if Roma can jump on this rocket ship now, they may have the next great Italian manager on their hands.
Well, for one, the Roma post is actually vacant now and Spalletti even pipped EDF for the job, giving him a strange set of bona fides. Things have progressed to the state where Sassuolo is actually undertaking their own managerial search, simply assuming that Roma will eventually give in and pay EDF’s €3 million release clause.
What Has to Happen?
Simple, Monchi has to be fully convinced that EDF is ready to make the leap to a larger and much more emotionally unstable club. If Poppa Monchi is sold on EDF’s merits as a man and manager, that three million should seem like relative chump change, but the fact that Roma haven’t venmo’d the dough could speak volumes.
Despite all that, EDF remains the leader at the quarter pole.
Familiarity Might Grease the Wheels: Unai Emery
Emery, due to his connections with Roma’s not-yet-but-soon-to-be-director-of-sport Monchi, is your odds on favorite, you know, presuming he’d love to leave a club with unlimited resources in exchange for a relatively hamstrung outfit. Emery’s greatest strength may also be his greatest weakness—his 4231 is tailor made for this Roma squad, yet, for much of his recent career, that formation has been option A through Z, and as we’ve seen in Roma’s recent history (Zeman and Garcia in particular) tactical inflexibility is a recipe for disaster.
Despite that intransigence, Emery has a pretty full trophy cabinet, having won three Europa League titles—which, before you scoff in haughty derision, is something Roma has yet to achieve even once—a Coupe de la Ligue and a Trophee des Champions from his time in Paris.
All in all, Emery seems like a manager on the rise, which again begs the question, why take a step down from PSG?
While Emery remains the man at PSG, stories of his exit haven’t abated since our last update, presumably because Parisians are having difficulty accepting their second place finish, falling a solid eight points behind Monaco when all was said and done.
What Has to Happen?
He has to leave PSG, duh. I won’t pretend to know enough about the state of his relationship with the PSG hierarchy, but one would imagine that, given his relationship with Monch and Roma’s place in the Champions League next season, Roma would vault to the top of his list should he become available.
The Darkhorse: Thomas Tuchel
Our compatriots at SB Nation’s Inter site did a wonderful write up on Tuchel, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, but I found this point to be particularly salient and related to Roma’s current situation:
When taking a closer look, it’s clear Tuchel has a proven track record of exceeding expectations with formerly underperforming sides, and more importantly, he has a habit turning talented young players into world-beaters. Astonishingly, Tuchel somehow managed to have his most successful year at Dortmund in a season after which three of his most important players left the club. All of this is to say that Tuchel has an impressive resume for a coach that’s just 43 years old.
The reasons behind Tuchel’s departure from Dortmund are a bit unclear—did he have a falling out with the directors, or perhaps even the players—but it doesn’t matter, if he’s available you have to kick the tires on this guy.
Not applicable since he’s new to the countdown.
What Has to Happen?
Well, Roma are somewhat fortunate in that they are the “biggest” club with a current vacancy, as evidenced by the mid-table English clubs currently connected to Tuchel, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of any German managers who have had success in Serie A, so they’d have to sell him not only on the culture of the club, but the promise of a better future for the league. Then after that, they would have to back up the money truck—Tuchel is one of the hottest managerial prospects in the game and would only have to sit out six months to a year before the well-heeled clubs become available.
Given his talent, his track record with big but not huge clubs and his willingness to work with young talent, Tuchel seems like an ideal fit.
The Also Rans: Laurent Blanc, Paulo Sousa
These two seem like such long shots, but we had to at least give them a cursory glance. Sousa has done a decent enough job with Fiorentina, guiding them to top ten finishes each of the past two seasons, including 5th place last year, but he would seem to fall firmly behind EDF, Emery and Tuchel for a variety of reasons.
Meanwhile, Blanc has the pedigree as a player and coach and has been distantly connected to the Roma post in the past, but always seemed a bridge too far for the Giallorossi. However, Blanc has been jobless for the past year, presumably living fat on his reported €22 million severance. Blanc seems like he should be in the same echelon with your Ancelottis and Guardiolas, but despite his four Ligue 1 titles he’s simply not held in the same esteem, perhaps owing to his inability to lift PSG to Champions League glory despite being given a virtual blank check every summer.
Good candidates one and all, but who is the right man for the job? Who has the right combination of pedigree and potential?
From that list of candidates, who is your top choice?
This poll is closed
Eusebio Di Francesco