With Roma and Sampdoria’s Saturday tilt postponed several weeks due to inclement weather, we’ll turn to the same tripe every local news station has swarmed on over the past two weeks, back to school! Only this time we’re not talking about the adorable little ones boarding the bus for the first time or naive college freshman unpacking their ramen noodles in their first dorm room. Nope, we’re talking about none other than Francesco Totti heading back to class, coaching class to be exact.
By now you’ve no doubt heard that Totti taking steps towards being an officially licensed UEFA coach, enrolling in the licensure course starting on September 18th. After “retiring” from the pitch, Totti hesitated a bit, entertaining offers to extend his playing career in Miami and Tokyo, before finally agreeing to become a director with Roma, a role which he’s assumed for about a month now. And apart from doing some schmoozing during the Schick negotiations and looking dope as hell in his suits in the stands, no one is quite certain of his role: is he merely a figurehead or another Monchi in the making?
While it’s far, far too early to predict Totti’s future as an executive, something tells me it won’t satiate his competitive juices, that being so far removed from the guys, from the action and from the highs and lows of matchday won’t whet his appetite for very long. So in that respect, it’s no surprise to learn that he’s pursuing his coaching badges.
But what sort of manager would Francesco Totti make? Would he be the stern disciplinarian, stewarding his team to success via spartan methods, or would he be the savvy players coach, willing his players to victory through mutual trust and encouraged independence?
The problem when players like Totti—those to whom the game came so naturally that tactics and discipline weren’t really concerns—become managers is simply that their innate understanding of the game doesn’t always translate to managing. When the youngmen under his charge don’t display the same preternatural talent for the sport as he did, frustration mounts, and when he’s up against managers who had to study the sport and all it’s nuances simply to survive, he may be outwitted and over matched. Across all sports, the truly great coaches were often the most mediocre (or even very worst) players in the game, but they were able to channel their passion for the sport into an almost academic pursuit, which made managing more of a calling rather than a passing fancy. For a variety of reasons, superstars don’t experience much success when they move into the manager’s box.
That’s not to say Totti can’t follow in the steps of someone like Zinedine Zidane, interning under a more successful manager before taking the reins himself, but for all the success Zizou has had and is having with Madrid, well, he’s coaching Madrid for the love of god! They practically print their own money, so the sheer amount of talent at his disposal surely aided his transition and development as a manager.
If Totti does indeed follow this course to its finish and becomes a manager, it wouldn’t feel right to seem him don any blazer other than Roma’s, right? And we all know Roma can’t pick and choose players as they wish; Roma is a hothouse for any manager, but what kind of reprieve would Totti be shown as Roma’s manager? Would the slings and arrows fire wide of Er Pupone, or would they strike right in the heart?
This may ultimately prove to be an academic question as many players pursue coaching licenses simply to open up options, and maybe Totti will follow in the footsteps of Alberto De Rossi and focus on Roma’s youth players, thereby dodging the prying eyes of the press, preferring instead to develop his son’s career.
Still, if there’s one thing we should never doubt about Francesco Totti it’s his love for the club and city of Roma, so perhaps he can and will cast aside all doubt and become Roma’s greatest manager.
Stranger things have happened.