Managing AS Roma has always seemed like a difficult job. Although I’ve definitely daydreamed about one day taking the reins of the Giallorossi and lived those daydreams through games like FIFA and Football Manager, there’s something about managing Roma in particular that seems even harder than managing most big clubs. Balancing the interests, wants, and personalities in the first team alone has been a challenge in the past; add in working with James Pallotta, Monchi, and managing the wonderfully-engaged tifosi expectations, and one can imagine that a Roma manager might need to take an aspirin more often than not.
Despite all that, the job’s the job, and if you’re getting paid to do it, you better bring the results. The outlook for a club and its manager can change on a dime, as Eusebio Di Francesco has been learning the hard way. Where the newspapers once praised him for Roma’s unbelievable comeback against Barcelona in the Champions League, they now speculate on how long it will take for upper management to give him the boot, and who Pallotta may bring in as a replacement. Is that fair? Who’s to say. Is that football? That we can agree on.
Given the rather bleak outlook for Di Francesco’s continued employment at Trigoria, an optimist like myself has to ask: is is possible for the Abruzzese to stay on in the long term, and if so, how? I personally see two potential pathways for EDF to keep his current job:
Path #1: Serie A Resurgence
To put it mildly, Roma has been quite disappointing in league play this season. There have certainly been bright spots, including the development of Pellegrini and Zaniolo, the somewhat surprising quality of Robin Olsen, and the continued quality play by Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov. Unfortunately, the performances by those players haven’t been enough to guarantee Roma a good place in the standings; the Giallorossi sit in seventh place, which if maintained would result in the first year missing European competition since 2013-2014. Based off of the tenuous financial situation Roma is in, the loss of Champions League revenue would result in a massive FIRE sale and the sacking of EDF.
All isn’t lost in the league yet, however. Despite the putrid 22 points separating Roma from league-leaders Juventus, the Champions League spots are still within reach. Only 3 points separate Roma from fourth-place A.C. Milan, and the only three things in life that are sure are death, taxes, and 21st Century A.C. Milan falling apart at the seams. If Roma can seize upon each and every mistake Milan makes between now and June (or, at the very least, a couple of those mistakes), Roma won’t be so hopeless after all.
Path #2: Do You Believe in Miracles? (a.k.a. Champions League Glory)
Okay, the chances of this happening are slim to none. Roma has a tough matchup in the first knockout round in Porto, and even if Porto is dispatched with ease, Roma will most likely be the weakest team left in the tournament. But! If Roma somehow won the Champions League, it wouldn’t matter if the club maintained its putrid league form. The Champions League group stage would be guaranteed once again, and Roma would find it a whole lot easier to retain its valuable players with a little more silverware in the cabinet. EDF certainly wouldn’t have to worry about being sacked if he brought home the Champions League trophy for the first time in Roma’s history.
This won’t happen, but it’s nice to dream about, right?
Conclusion: Will EDF even be sacked?
Reportedly, one of the main reasons Di Francesco is still employed by Roma is the dearth of managers available to take his place. Paulo Sousa seems willing and able, but most agree that hiring the former Fiorentina man would be a short-term lateral move at best, and another disaster at worst. The name of Antonio Conte has been mentioned repeatedly, but the former Italy boss has his sights on one of Europe’s “Superclubs”, which Roma remains one tier below. Given the lack of options, and given Monchi’s continued support for Di Francesco, it is incredibly likely that EDF will see out the rest of the season as the manager of Roma. By the time June rolls around there maybe no need to have this discussion anymore, Roma may have regained her footing, and all will be well.
At least, one can hope.