Well, my friends, here we are. After a rather sporadic 18 months or so at the helm, Eusebio Di Francesco’s grasp on the Roma manager job is looking more tenuous by the minute. Following their 95th minute capitulation to a nine-man Cagliari side, folks around Rome are growing anxious, crying for EDF’s job and wishing the club had, well, some testicular fortitude, to put it mildly. There are several factors at play that might ultimately save EDF’s job until the summer, one being a simple lack of options, but since when has that stopped Roma?
All of which brings us to this time honored CdT tradition, the Future Ex-Manager Power Poll, an exercise we’ve visited as recently as recently as 2013 when Zeman’s second tenure with the club ended, and then again in 2017 when (ironically enough) Luciano Spalletti’s second turn with Roma was coming to an end.
And it was in that most recent rundown that we first discussed the notion of EDF returning to scenes of his greatest triumph as a player, Roma’s 2001 Scudetto season, which may as well have occurred during the Stone Age at this rate.
On that potential appointment, we were actually (sort of) optimistic:
At only 47-years-old, Di Francesco is very much a managerial prospect, leading many to question if he’s ready to make the jump to Roma, but his career thus far has proven one thing, he can win. So if Roma can jump on this rocket ship now, they may have the next great Italian manager on their hands.
And they may very well have the next great Italian manager on their hands, but patience and Roma seldom walk hand-in-hand, so Roma may never reap the benefits of EDF’s potential, and with Juve leading the pack and both Milan sides looking poised to regain their former status sooner rather than later, Roma simply don’t have time to wait.
After all, much like the entirety of human civilization, which is merely a geological blip between ice ages, a Roma managers job is, by its very nature, fleeting.
So, without further delay, your top two, and at present, only candidates to be the Future Ex-Manager of Roma.
The Guy With the Jaw
Bill Cowh...I mean, Vincenzo Montella
Current Club: The dole
Preferred Formation: 4231, 433
Montella was never the most talented Roma player, but you’d be hard pressed to find many more loved by the fanbase than Vincenzo. Thanks to his chemistry with Marco Delvecchio and Francesco Totti in the early 2000s, Roma reached their absolute apex, a mark to which they’ve been constantly aspiring for the past 17 seasons. With over 90 goals in all competitions across parts of nine seasons, Montella was a lock for the club’s hall of fame, an honor he received in 2013.
As a manager, Montella has struggled to cobble together a similar record, as his early successes with Catania and Fiorentina were not mirrored during his stints with Milan and Sevilla, his two most recent former employers. Still, Montella has plenty of experience and did guide Milan back to Europe after a two year absence, but his time with the Rossoneri was cut short when he was unable to capitalize on the club’s €200 million spending spree in the summer of 2017. His time with Sevilla was cut short due to a lackluster La Liga campaign, despite guiding the club to the quarterfinals of the Champions League after taking over last December.
And it's precisely that last point that should prick your ears up. His Roma connections aside, Montella has proven (at least once) that he can join a club midstream and find some measure of success, so rejoining Roma at this fractious time might not be so daunting for the little airplane.
The Guy Who Coached a Team Called Videoton
Current Club: Also on the dole
Managerial Experience: QPR, Swansea, Leicester, Videoton, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Basel, Fiorentina, Tianjin Quanjian
Preferred Formation: You name it, he plays it.
A Champions League winner twice over as a player, Sousa hasn't yet managed to even sniff that level of success on the touchline, managing eight clubs in nine seasons. Ever the versatile one, Sousa has managed to adapt to life in leagues as varied as Serie A, the Chinese Super League and even Hungary, thanks in part to his incredible tactical flexibility, fielding virtually every formation known to man over his decade on the sidelines.
Despite his journeyman status, Sousa has compiled a decent record as a manager, winning 49% of his career matches, the high water mark coming with Basel, whom he guided to a Swiss title in 2014-2015. While he wouldn't be the sexiest pick, he does have Serie A experience and would, at the very least, maintain Roma's shitty status quo. So there's that.
The Guy They'll Never Get
Current club: The Court of Arbitration for Sport
Preferred Formation: 352
For $€V€RAL R€A$ON$ Roma will never be able to land this particular white whale, but oh mama, it’d be sweet if they did. Conte's football might not always be the prettiest, but he fucking wins, doesn't he? With titles in Serie B, Serie A, the Premier League and even the FA Cup, there aren't many managers with a trophy cabinet quite like Conte's.
But forget it, it ain't happening. Uncle Jimmy would never pony up that kind of dough, let alone cede that much control to his manager.
Doc, Are You Telling Me You Built a Time Machine...Out of a Delorean?
Current Club: Napoli
Managerial Experience: Reggiana, Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Napoli
Preferred Formation: 433, 442 lately
I mean, talk about frustration. Talk about Roma happening. Look at the list of his most recent employers and tell me you ever envisioned Carletto, our dear Carletto, managing the likes of Napoli. No disrespect intended, but they're not exactly in the same league as Real, Munich or PSG, Ancelotti's prior three stops.
Now, imagine if Roma never made their Champions League run last year but everything else stayed the same—the massive drop in points and the utter disappearance of an attack—could they, or would they, have moved on from EDF if they knew Ancelotti was ready, willing and available?
Ancelotti is accustomed to working with enormous budgets like Conte, but the simple fact that he went to Napoli and not another mega club, plus his stated desire to coach Roma one day, makes the mind wander.
What's Likely to Happen
Absolutely nothing, if we're being honest. Unless Pallotta is so absolutely cheesed off with Di Francesco's form lately, and is willing to call Monchi's bluff that he'll leave if EDF is fired, it's not likely that Di Francesco will be canned. It would take an enormous mea culpa from Pallotta to pull the plug on yet another manager, especially when there are likely only two viable and extremely unenticing alternatives available.
Now, if there were a Spalletti-type guy waiting in the wings, one who could conjure up an instant turn around, EDF's leash would likely have been cut by now. That could be Montella, but his most recent run in Serie A was dreadful and has been made to look worse thanks to Gennaro Gattuso's success with virtually the same squad.
Regardless of what the next 24 hours or so may bring, this season could be absolutely disastrous for Roma. Missing the Champions League next season likely means one or more of Lorenzo Pellegrini, Kostas Manolas and Cengiz Ünder are gone this summer, leading to yet another summer of upheaval and yet another re-start on this once ambitious project.
So perhaps finding Roma's Future Ex-Manager is only a small piece of the puzzle. James Pallotta's Roma project is an utter mess right now and shows no signs of correcting course. Missing the Champions League begets players sales, which begets poor results, which begets managerial changes, which begets starting over....you see where this is going.
Roma has been locked in that pernicious cycle for seven seasons now. So whether it's Montella, Ancelotti or, I don't know, let's say Phil Jackson, no manager can undo this mess until the organization as a whole sets some priorities and sticks to a course of action.
You're either tearing it down to the bones and starting fresh, or you're paying to play with the big boys. There's no middle ground.
After all, like Ron Swanson once said. Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.