Rest in Peace - Maria Sensi
More than one aspect of their time at the club gets overblown to caricature levels now that the Sensis are no longer at the helm of AS Roma. If you want a reason to bash on foreign management, what better bandwagon to ride than the stereotypical doting Italian family who left the premises before them?
However, if there was one person in the family who held near-zero contradictions, it is the now-departed wife of Franco Sensi, Maria. Everything about the public legacy of Maria Sensi was straightforward, needed and refreshing.
She never swept anything under the carpet, didn’t speak on topics unless she held complete conviction on them, and dedicated a great ton of her time to the club in trying to support its environment. All the club’s heavy-hitters woven into Roma’s history - Francesco Totti, Eusebio Di Francesco and Luciano Spalletti among them - had nothing but very personal memories to share of Maria Sensi this weekend. They were short anecdotes of a person who reached out to them when she didn’t need to, but did so simply because she cared for AS Roma and - by extension - the wellbeing of the club’s people.
45 Minutes of Actual Good Play - Now How About 90?
Whisper it quietly but hey, Roma’s team chemistry this past Sunday was... actually good?
I had to watch the game on replay after staying up late for Canelo vs GGG 2.
All the accusations of there being no identity to Roma’s play were washed away with Roma’s second goal - one that validated damn near everybody in the frontline and midfield in one single action - before the Lupi went into the dressing room for half-time... and never came back.
Roma look like they are finally - finally - getting some variety and efficiency in their attacking after over 12 months wait from the fans. But one slight problem, where is the defence?
EDF Is Roma - Whatever ‘Roma’ Means Right Now
Sure, some may deride the idea Eusebio Di Francesco is a ‘heavy-hitter’ in Roma’s history, but it becomes more and more obvious off the pitch - on weekends like this - that EDF draws more water at the club than Radja Nainggolan, Kevin Strootman and Alisson put together. That just increases the focus on EDF’s main problem: it’s not showing on the pitch when it comes to closing out games and results.
It’s a problem he needs to fix quickly before he looks just plain incompetent with no chance of redemption. Blackouts like the one we’ve seen this weekend aren’t an alien sight for Roma fans, but it is one we’d hoped we’d turn the corner on from last season. It’s not only a question of togetherness, but leadership. And when one of your dressing room’s ‘leaders’ looks like his head is elsewhere, as Aleksandar Kolarov did for Chievo’s equalizing goal, that puts even more onus on the coach to bring out the hammer and find an ‘A’ team in this side that he can rely on for the hard stretches of the season.
The talk from EDF before the game was that Chievo was a chance to ‘recover lost points’, and that he’d field an experienced lineup in getting the club the win it desperately needed to reset the players’ heads. Then that experienced lineup went onto toil to a draw.
This time last season, that need for leadership brought out a series of ‘I need to find ways in training to get into the players heads’ pressers from EDF. Well, he should already be in his most experienced players heads after 12 months. So how did he get pushed out again? These are where all the concerns over the changing club culture come in, and whether Roma is a club that can seriously motivate its experienced players to fight for it right now. But EDF bought into this management and they shaped the current squad in his image - especially in midfield - so he has been given everything he needs to get wins.
Alessandro Florenzi Never Left
Alessandro Florenzi never really left, he’s just still surrounded by the same anachronisms at Roma. There was no better example of this than after the Chievo game, when a journalist asked him if he’d go into the Real Madrid game with extra confidence, given that September 16th was the anniversary date of his goal against Barcelona.
It was either banal or knowingly provocative to ask Florenzi this, because we all know he’s been accused of letting that Barcelona game get to his head in the past. Luckily, Florenzi wasn’t having any of it and paid the question the non-answer it deserved.
Meanwhile, on the pitch Alessandro has been keeping up his performances. While we’re talking about leadership, we can single him out for once against looking like Beckham on the wing with the captain’s armband to boot.
On the flipside, I’ve read some backlash about how this makes Karsdorp look like an unnecessary signing, but hey if we spent a year talking about how Florenzi needs time to come back from a major knee injury then imagine what the competition for right-back will look like once Karsdorp regains his career momentum and full match sharpness. Peaks and troughs at Roma. Ride them out both the same, as always.