Full disclosure, I’m writing this in the wake of Roma’s 1-1 draw against Sassuolo, the latest addition to a worrying trend in which the Giallorossi are plumb out of offensive ideas. However, despite that bitter taste, 2017 was a banner year for Roma. While they didn’t ultimately capture the Scudetto, Roma did set a points record to end the 2016-2017 season, and despite another summer of turnover, the club remains in the upper reaches of the table and, at long last, received approval for the Stadio della Roma; so things are good, but they’re just not great.
With that in mind, here are 18 Roma resolutions for 2018. Some silly, some serious, some possible, some impractical but all within the delirious realm we call Roma.
#1: An Attacking Midfielder...Like, a Real One, Please!
By now you no doubt have realized that Eusebio Di Francesco’s attack leans further to the left than the works of Noam Chomsky, and while that’s all well and good and not without merit, it’s easily defeated. The league has long since caught onto EDF’s schemes, and Roma’s play has suffered as a result. With no creative spark in the middle of the field, they really have no choice.
Is one legitimate attacking midfielder the panacea for this ailment? Perhaps, perhaps not (one can reasonably doubt how one would fair under EDF anyway), but it’s a strong start; this club needs additional options in attack. So whether they unearth one from South America or try and exploit the hostility between Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Manchester United, Roma needs an attacking midfielder in the worst way.
#2: A Defined Role for The Kids
As is usually the case, Roma is filled to the brim with young and talented footballers. However, as we’ve seen in the past it can sometimes be difficult to accommodate all that burgeoning talent into the first team. While EDF has done a masterful job simply getting minutes for the youngest of his charges, a little consistency will go a long way. Providing the likes of Gerson, Cengiz Under, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Patrik Schick and even Luca Pellegrini a definable role, so they when, where and how they’ll be called upon, will be a boon to their respective developments.
#3: Mix It Up!
The loudest of Di Francesco’s detractors typically point to one fatal flaw in the young manager, his extreme reliance on the 4-3-3. While this remains a fairly flexible formation, it doesn’t always make the best use out of Roma’s best players, particularly Radja Nainggolan, who is, incase you’d forgotten, the club’s best player by a country mile. It may be a tall ask, but EDF has to show more tactical flexibility in 2018 if Roma are to survive the second swing through the fixture list
#4: Give Kolarov a Break!
Aleksandar Kolarov has proven to be one of the steals of the summer transfer window, providing Roma with top quality service from the leftback spot, precision on set pieces and more menacing looks than a Steven Seagal movie marathon. But, and here’s the rub, Kolarov has been around the block more than a few times, and will likely need a greater degree of rest in 2018 than he received in the first half of the season. Fortunately, the impending return of Emerson Palmieri should provide some respite to Kolarov.
#5: Get Dzeko Back on Track
Edin Dzeko has had a maddening Roma career thus far, hasn’t he? First there was the #DaretoDzeko campaign that dragged on for weeks (or maybe decades, I can’t tell, it was a fog of rumors and hearsay) before he ultimately signed for Roma, then there was his disastrous first season with the club, one in which he was benched in the second half. Of course, he followed all that up with a Capocannoniere performance last season. And while this season started off well enough, the well has, well, gone dry. Dzeko has only scored one goal (against SPAL) since October. This cannot continue.
#6: Score More Than One Goal
This follows point number five, but EDFs attack has practically vanished over the past two months. In fact, the Giallorossi have surpassed the one-goal mark only seven times in their first seventeen matches, two of which came against lowly SPAL and Benevento. This could very well lead to his undoing, so EDF better approach this with open eyes and fresh sense of urgency.
#7: Extend Alisson
Alisson Becker’s reputation is on the rise. Roma’s giant Brazilian keeper has the looks, the positioning, the reflexes, and the distribution of a world class keeper; he passes both the statistical and eye test, and it won’t be long before the world’s best clubs take notice. So, overpay, commit too soon, do whatever it takes just don’t let this kid leave.
#8: Sort Out His Shirt
Is he “Alisson” or “A. Becker”? We’ve seen both looks in his brief tenure in Rome. Sort it out before the kid gets an identity complex.
#9: What About That Sponsor?
Several weeks ago we rejoiced at the news that Roma had, at long last, secured a primary shirt sponsorship, believed to be Turkish Airlines, a deal which may or may not have been brokered by Francesco Totti. But here we are, its 2018, and we still have no idea if that’s happening. The shirts look great without a sponsor, but the money will enable Roma to keep pace with her peers.
#10: Do Something in the January Window
Roma doesn’t really do huge business in January, though they knocked it out of the park with Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti two years ago, but whether it’s a right back, an attacking midfielder or a reserve center back, Monchi has to do something to give his club a boost as they enter the new year.
#11: Stay in the Champions League!
This one goes without saying, but in addition from advancing as far as possible in the game’s grandest competition, Roma must qualify for the 2018-2019 rendition as well.
#12: What Color are those Third Shirts?
Black? Brown? Brack? I don’t know, I just want an official announcement of some sort before the year is over.
#13: Figure Out a Forward Rotation
This one follows a few of our previous points, but in the face of a total lack of playmaking from the midfield, the creative onus tends to fall on the forwards. While Edin Dzeko remains firmly entrenched as the center forward, the mishmash around him has gone through fits and starts this season, with the Bosnian Batistuta surrounded by everyone from Cengiz Under to Gregoire Defrel, the former being too young and the latter simply not a wide player.
While El Shaarawy and Perotti have provided intermittent sparks of energy, by and large there has simply been too much uncertainty on the frontline. Is Perotti dropping deep? Is El Shaarawy better on the left or right? Can Schick be effective out wide? Too many questions, and no real solutions.
#14: No ACL Injuries Would be Nice
Do I really need to explain that one?
#15: Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency
Part and parcel of Roma’s offensive woes has been their poor performance in front of goal. Whether they’re taking speculative chances or not converting the clear cut ones, Roma has been dreadful in front of goal. Roma’s 43% shot accuracy ranks 11th in the league, tied with Crotone...Crotone! With 333 shot attempts, second in the league, it’s almost as if Roma has no concept of shot quality, preferring to grip it and rip, praying the ball will somehow find the back of the net, which it only has 9% of the time.
I’m not sure these are issues that can be remedied within the course of a season, but every miss heaps further pressure upon each and every set piece, VAR decision and, most importantly, Roma’s defense. Numbers like those aren’t sustainable, and as we’re seeing, people are starting to figure out how to exploit Roma’s inefficiencies.
#16: No More Scudetto Talk
I don’t care if Roma goes 19 for 19 through the second half, or beats Juventus 6-0 next fall, I don’t want to hear anyone associated with the club even utter that word. This has nothing to do with superstition or bad luck, when you got 16 years without winning one, you have no business discussing it until it becomes a reality. If Roma are three points out with two weeks to play, sure, by all means talk it up, but when that S-word crosses their lips in September or early October, you know we’re doomed.
#17: Don’t Break Up the Defense
This one may be out of their reach given Kostas Manolas’ absurdly low release clause, one that is sure to get picked up in a world where defenders are going for over seventy million pounds, but Manolas and Federico Fazio have a good thing going. With their complementary strengths and weaknesses, this duo has made Alisson’s life easy at the back, limiting opponents to 12 goals through the season’s first turn. From Mehdi Benatia, to Leandro Castan, to Marquinhos to Alessio Romagnoli and even Simon Kjaer, Roma’s backline has seldom stayed intact for more than 18 months. Captain Caveman and Greece Lightning are two of the best in the business, and for a team that presumes to build form the back, it behooves them to keep this duo together.
#18: Beat Who They’re Supposed to Beat
And we’ll end our list of resolutions with a repeat entry because, well, because it remains a grave issue for our beloved Roma. Whether their captain is slapping people in the face or they’re conceding second half goals, Roma’s penchant for playing down to the level of their opponent cost them dearly in 2017. Had Roma held firm against Genoa and Sassuolo, they’d be sitting in third place with a match in hand rather than barely clinging onto fourth. And while that may not seem like a drastic difference, Roma does this each and every year, tossing away points to lower sides and then looking back in May and wondering what if. Let’s not do that this year.
While the trophy cabinet remained bare last year, 2017 was a rousing success for Roma on and off the pitch, and even if they hit on 50% of those resolutions, 2018 could be even better.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the staff and community here at CdT. We may have our differences from time to time, but having a place to discuss and debate Roma is something for which I am extremely grateful, and CdT wouldn’t be what it is without your time, your insights and your passions.
So thank you for reading, for commenting and for arguing. Happy New Year!