When you've been around as long as we have, you tend to rely on certain traditions because they provide a sense of comfort or belonging, serving either as an emotional anchor during confusing times or simply a reference point during a busy year. As far as CdT traditions are concerned, we seldom go longer than 18 months without unfurling one of our oldest earmarks, the Future Ex-Roma Manager Power Poll, which dates back all the way to 2013. In fact, the very first addition was published almost six years to the day. Go figure.
During that first edition, Aurelio Andreazzoli, much like Claudio Ranieri, stepped in when the prior manager was unexpectedly given the boot. In Andreazzoli's case, he was tasked with the responsibility of watching after Zeman's ashtray when ZZ's ill-fated experiment was shutdown after less than a season of balls-out, YOLO-style attacking football.
Andreazzoli was the leader in the club house that particular March when we ran our inaugural poll, especially after he defeated Juventus in mid-February. AA wound up with a 9-4-4 record that spring, culminating in the heartbreaking loss to Lazio in the Coppa Italia finale that May. Truth be told, Andreazzoli probably deserved a longer look as the real manager, but Rudi Garcia's unbeaten run the following fall justified management's decision to go in a different direction.
I mention all of this not only because of that coincidental timing, but due to the striking similarities between the departed managers. Zeman, much like EDF, required specific players to operate his specific system and thanks in part to a poorly constructed roster he was never able to fully implement his philosophies, leaving him to hold the bag.
Now, something tells me EDF's post-Roma career will go a tad bit better than ZZ's, but both men were done a disservice by the administration above them. However, Di Francesco has time and youth on his side, something ZZ unfortunately did not.
Despite Ranieri's love of the club and his gentle nature, I get the feeling he'll get the Andreazzoli treatment; never more than a care-taker. However, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility he remains on next fall, so we'll start with Roma's current Mister.
The Sentimental Favorite: Claudio Ranieri
In his own words, Ranieri simply could not say no to Roma; the city and club of his birth. Ranieri's love for the club, his tactical tinkering, and his grandpa-like demeanor could make him an ideal candidate for a club in desperate need of a calming influence. However, with such a short window in which to prove himself, and with such dire consequences should he not, he has no margin for error whatsoever.
But...what if he does bring Roma back up to fourth place? Then what? If Roma's key players rally around the Ranieri flag, they'd be crazy to set him adrift, right?
The unfortunate part for Ranieri is simply that he has one...and only one...benchmark for success: get this team to fourth place. And a failure to achieve that objective likely means he'll get his veritable gold watch from Roma.
The Almost Too Perfect Pick: Gian Piero Gasperini
Gasperini would provide us with acronym consistency, which is nice, but thanks to a blend of tactical know-how (albeit a bit rigid), a penchant for getting the best out of youth, and an ability to make a dollar out of fifteen cents, GPG might be Roma’s best bet at making this squad work.
Since arriving at Atalanta, Gasperini led the Goddesses to fourth and seventh place finishes in his first two years, and seems primed to guide Atalanta back to the Europa League next season. GPG achieved all this despite having the league’s seventh smallest payroll, but thanks to the magic he’s conjured with everyone from Papu Gomez to Duvan Zapata and even Bryan Cristante, he’s had the Goddesses punching above their weight class for three seasons now.
Having led clubs like Palermo, Crotone and Genoa prior to his Atalanta stint, detractors will label him provincial, doubly so since he failed miserably at Inter Milan, but is a five-match stint at the post-treble/pre-Thohir Inter really the best metric by which to judge Gasperini’s aptitude for leading a large club?
If Gasperini and Atalanta do indeed part ways, GPG could be one of the hottest names on the market. If Pallotta is really adamant in his desire to get Sarri (more on that in a second), he better make damn sure he can lure him to Roma because Gasperini may not last long enough to be Roma’s second choice.
Antonio Conte: The Man Who is Suddenly in Play
With Madrid floundering (all the way to third place. Gasp!) under the leadership of Julen Lopetegui and later Santiago Solari, Conte seemed primed for the Madrid bench. After conquering Serie A and the Premiership in successive seasons, taking his act to La Liga seemed like the next logical step—that was, until, Zinedine Zidane came to the rescue.
Zizou’s second stint at Real is barely ten days old, but with a new deal carrying him through 2022, the bench at the Bernabeau will likely remain closed for as long as Zidane wants the gig.
Conte won’t come easy (Inter and even Juventus are rumored suitors) nor cheap (he was the highest price Chelsea manager ever) but now that one of his rumored destinations is off the table, could making sense of the Roma mess and becoming a hero in the process appeal to his ego?
Pallotta talks a good game, but to date his managerial selections haven’t matched that noise; hiring Conte would erase all that in an instant.
The Pallotta Pick: Maurizio Sarri
Never mind the fact that the hasn't been sacked yet, but current Chelsea boss and former Napoli whiz Maurizio Sarri sits firmly on top of Pallotta's wish list. Of course, with Chelsea sitting in sixth place, chances are Sarri will fall prey to the Blues high standards, making him an intriguing and exciting candidate.
Now, I won't pretend to know enough about Chelsea or the Premiership as a whole to tell you why Sarri has "failed” so miserably, but his Napoli teams were absolutely epic. Thanks to his work with the likes of Marik Hamsek, Lorenzo Insigne and in particular Dries Mertens, Napoli's attack was practically unstoppable, racking up an astounding 251 league goals across three seasons.
Sarri knows the league in and out and has proven to be a bit of a horse-whisperer when it comes to attacking players, so imagining what he could with Patrick Schick, Cengiz Ünder and even Nicolo Zaniolo is drool-worthy.
Sarri's rep probably took a bit of a ding over the past year, but Roma aren't likely to be his only suitor, so Pallotta would have to act fast, ponying up whatever it takes to get his man.
This is likely just the beginning, so I'm hesitant to name a favorite at this point, especially since Roma still have to find a new director of sport, one who would presumably want a say in the hiring of the next manager.
So, what do you think, do any of these names tickle your fancy?