The coach. The players. Management. All look to be culpable for Roma’s disastrous first 15 games of the Serie A season. A club that reached the Champions League semifinals just months ago is now staring the possibility of not qualifying for the 2019 version of the tournament squarely in the face. Roma is staring into the abyss.
Is this rock bottom? Nobody can know for sure, but it sure feels like it. After Roma inexplicably blew a 2-1 lead, up two, yes TWO men, in the 95th minute at the Sardegna Arena, it certainly feels like things are at their worst. In a season with lots of downs, it feels like this is the furthest down Roma have been. Will it get worse before it gets better? Only time will tell, but the team is taking measures to try and turn things around. However, are they doing the right thing?
After yesterday’s 2-2 draw against Cagliari, management has decided to stick with Eusebio Di Francesco as the captain of a ship that has veered dangerously off course and send the team into it’s second ritiro of the season. The team will be locked away at it’s training complex from Sunday morning until Tuesday when the team departs for the Czech Republic for Wednesday’s Champions League group stage finale against Plzen. However, is this enough to alleviate Roma’s underlying issues or is the front office putting a band-aid on a much deeper wound?
The team was sent into its first ritiro of the season after September’s 2-0 loss against Bologna at the Olimpico, which was Roma’s fifth straight match in all competitions without a win. At the time, the ritiro seemed to have the desired result, as Roma ran off four straight convincing wins against Frosinone, Lazio, Plzen, and Empoli. Whatever was said behind closed doors seemed to have had it’s intended effect. Roma’s early season struggles seemed to be behind it and EDF seemed to have done enough to save his skin. Things were moving in the right direction in the capital.
However, the international break followed the string of victories and took with it whatever momentum Roma had built up. A loss to ten man SPAL followed at the Olimpico and the downward spiral began again. While Roma managed back-to-back wins against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League after the SPAL loss, the bottom fell out in Serie A. In seven Serie A matches since the October international break, Roma has four draws, two losses and just ONE win. Management’s solution is the aforementioned second ritiro of the season.
Sequestering the players for the second time in just over two months seems like a desperation move that will do no more than paper over the cracks of a crumbling season. The fact that the first ritiro’s success lasted a mere four games seems to indicate that there are much deeper issues than could be fixed in such a manner. And this time around the schedule isn’t quite as favorable post-ritiro; Juve lurk in just two weeks time before Christmas. What happens if Roma thrash Plzen again and beat Genoa, but in turn get handled in Turin?
The solution most are calling for is the dismissal of EDF. This is something I’ve gone back and forth on over the course of the season. Early on, like many Romanisti, I was calling for EDF’s head, only to eat crown when the ship seemed to have been righted. However, now, it seems as if things are too far gone for the team to continue with Di Francesco.
Rumors have swirled that Pallotta is fed up with EDF, but hasn’t let the guillotine drop. Why? Some reports indicate that EDF still has a job because the available candidates, Vincenzo Montella and Paulo Sousa, aren’t convincing. Meanwhile, others seem to think it’s because Monchi has staked his future on EDF’s. Would the Spaniard really leave if EDF is fired? Is Antonio Conte a pipe dream, thus Roma stick with EDF? Is the team hoping to survive through the holidays, so it can make a chance over the winter break? The questions are many.
What isn’t in question is the fact that Roma’s season is in jeopardy. Fortunately for the Giallorossi, all the teams around them in the table also drew this week, so the Champions League is still within reach. All hope is no yet gone. However, one thing is clear Roma must fix things quickly or hope will disappear faster than a panettone on Christmas. Will another ritiro be enough? The next few weeks should make that very clear.