If you’ve been following us this week, you’ve probably noticed the two prevailing themes swirling around Roma—Eusebio Di Francesco’s uncertain future and Roma’s mounting injury crisis. With a two-match prove it or lose it edict supposedly issued by James Pallotta, it seems like the fates may be conspiring against EDF in his quest to keep his job. First it was Stephan El Shaarawy leaving the pitch against Real Madrid, then it was Ante Coric pulling up limp afterwards, and when coupled with the existing injuries to Daniele De Rossi, Javier Pastore, and Lorenzo Pellegrini, it seemed like Di Francesco couldn’t catch a break.
And, well, I’m afraid to say, Friday hasn’t granted him any favors either. There will be no after work happy hour drinks for EDF as he prepares to take on Luciano Spalletti, the man to whom he’s been constantly connected over the past 18 months, not with today’s news.
Following a battery of tests (how many in a battery, incidentally?), Edin Dzeko has been (depending on one’s source) ruled out for anywhere from 10 days to a full three weeks with a right thigh injury, which I believe fills up Roma’s punch card now, soooo, free subs for everyone!!
No matter the length of his absence, without Dzeko the onus falls squarely on the broad but slim shoulders of Patrik Schick, Roma’s increasingly maligned 22-year-old forward. We’ll have more on Schick’s troubles in the coming days, but in a nutshell, no one seems quite sure how to properly use him. Is he a straight up striker? Does he need to be deployed out wide? Is he a second striker? Should he become a goalie? No one knows!
Through 11 appearances (all comps) this season, Schick has managed just one goal while racking up some 400 minutes of action. Needless to say, whether it’s a week or a month, Dzeko’s absence could be a boon to Schick, who desperately needs to gain some positive traction this season.
Fortunately for Schick, if he needs an example of how to bust out of that funk, all he needs to do is pop by Roma’s training room. Lorenzo Pellegrini, who is just as young and had almost as much hype entering the season, struggled to gain a foothold in Roma’s midfield, being miscast and squandering the opportunities afforded to him earlier this season. However, when Javier Pastore went down, Pellegrini seized the day, firmly establishing himself as Roma’s creator in chief.
If Shick can even do a fraction of that, not only will Roma weather this storm, but Shick might get his career back on track. And if that sounds extreme, hear me out: at 22-years-old, Shick can still be considered a prospect, but if moves towards 23 or 24 and has yet to string it together, even at that young age, we can safely say he’ll never be the player many imagined he’d be when he left Sampdoria.
You’ll have to excuse me, I didn’t mean for this to turn into a referendum on Schick’s future, but Dzeko’s absence does underscore how important this moment is for Schick, and even for Di Francesco. Whether or not that two match lifeline is true or not is irrelevant, at some point EDF’s job will come down to goals—Roma needs them and Schick should score them.
To date, Di Francesco hasn’t been able to bridge that gap. This could be the first step to securing both their futures.