Oh, the longing I have endured to see you! Not since the glorious year of 2005 when Spalletti introduced us. Do you remember? The double-pivot with De Rossi and Pizarro, Taddei and Mancini on the wings, Perrotta galloping box-to-box, and Totti as the false nine. Your form was amazing. Never had I seen such stunning football. It was my college years back then, and despite long nights of intoxicated debauchery, I woke up early to be with you, watch you, celebrate with you. In the morning haze, I reveled. And though you weren’t always perfect, you still managed to delight in defeat.
In 2007, and then again in 2008, we lifted the Coppa Italia trophy together. If I had only known then how special that really was for us. Do you remember? How the trophy gleamed in our eyes. We were at our best then, or at least I like to think so. Just remembering makes my heart full. You must know, for the four years we shared, I loved you every minute.
Then you left me.
It was a dark time, watching you go with Spalletti. And while a part of me sensed the end coming, financial issues and poor results creating a chasm between us, I didn’t want to accept it.
Two long years passed. I admit, I searched for you around Europe. Friends told me they had seen you in England, then in Spain, even in northern Italy. And sometimes, I am not ashamed to say, I watched you from afar. Every now and then I saw you with Guardiaola. How I missed you.
Then, in 2011, my wildest dreams came true. You returned to me. I wanted to believe it was for real. You and Montella, bringing back some of the old magic. Why did you come back? I mean, I am happy you did, but I think we both know it wasn’t the same. It was as if you were trying to reignite a charred wick. You burnt out quick—the passion just wasn’t there. And as quickly as you had come, you were gone again.
Why has our relationship been a resounding wave? You emphatically leave, come back stronger, and then whimper away. With Spalletti’s return in 2016, you made brief appearances, but never really solidified yourself. Was it the players or the coach who made you distant?
Which brings me to today. I’ve seen you around lately and it’s made me giddy. You were wonderful against Frosinone, gallant versus Lazio, and magisterial in the match with FC Viktoria Plzeň. Yet, you must understand why I am reluctant to welcome you back with open arms. Are you teasing me again? Do you intend to stay, and not just for a short spell?
4-2-3-1, you are what I need right now and I want you to stay. The players need you too, for you are the perfect shape. Your cousin 4-3-3 has been no good for me, atrocious, uninspired, ugly. I’m on my knees, 4-2-3-1... please stay.