This particular incident made something very clear: Roma only has three certified CBs on their roster and one of them is Juan Jesus (no offense, Rrruan). And considering that the squad has quite possibly the two most important fixtures since their last Scudetto, we can safely say that an injured or exhausted Manolas is not a pretty good idea, so it’s best we don’t push our luck.
The main question is how to keep Manolas rested with only two other options in Jesus and Federico Fazio. There are actually a couple of choices and I’m going to explain them one by one.
Rotate Each Fixture
For example, if EDF plays Manolas and Fazio for the upcoming match, then play Jesus instead of one of them –we cannot overplay Fazio, either- and carry on doing so for the remainder of the season. This is the most normal approach, so to speak, and Di Francesco, always willing to rotate, would probably go for this choice, in my opinion.
The problem with this choice is the fact that if one of those three gets injured, then we would have to go with another plan but, thankfully, I have you covered.
The DDR Card
While I’m not the biggest fan of playing our beloved captain as a CB, it can be a pretty handy solution in these times of need; De Rossi has a lot of experience playing in that position by now and he has the character, intelligence and knowledge to do so in great fashion. Perhaps not against the likes of Juventus, for example, but definitely in matches where rotation could be needed.
The problem with this is that Dani is no longer a kid and already has duties as the starting holding midfielder, so playing him as a CB during rotation matches won’t do him any good when I am of the belief that he is the one that should be rotated.
We’ll call this an emergency option. But there’s one option most people don’t talk about.
Gonalons as a Center Back
The Frenchman has been underutilized in the second half of the season, but he could be a pretty handy option to solve the CBs problem; he had his fair share of experience playing there from his Lyon days, much like De Rossi, and he is capable of doing so with enough quality to maintain the defense in good shape.
While Gonalons could be exploited in the last couple of matches due to him being the natural replacement and also being a very capable and resolving CB, it’s not such a big deal when you consider he is still somewhat young and has been on the fringes for some time now, so using him on the last matches could actually be a good choice to keep the CBs (and De Rossi) well rested.
Kolarov as a Center Back
Back in November about the many ways Roma could rotate Emerson and Kolarov, plus playing both at the same time–of course, this being Roma, Emerson was sold to Chelsea. Having said that, one of those options was to shoehorn Kolarov as a CB and that could be a last resort if injuries get worse or we need some serious rotation, which seems to be case, considering Manolas’ problems.
The Serbian played in that position during his last season at Manchester City and while he wasn’t exactly Paolo Maldini in that position, he certainly fared well; this could also be a good opportunity to give Jonathan Silva some minutes or even give Bruno Peres a run as an auxiliary left-back, if needed. Kolarov has a great left foot, so he could provide a nice ball-playing role as a CB and could also maintain the roughness in the position that both Fazio and Manolas provide.
These are all temporary solutions, of course, to maintain the likes of Manolas and Fazio fresh for the rest of the most important fixtures, which are going to define the entirety of Roma’s season. They may not be fancy, but they are all helpful in one way or another and they provide enough time to give the players some time to rest.
Now, we’ll leave it to you: What do you think Roma should do to rest Manolas and the rest of the CBs to not run them to the ground?