Unless you've been away on a two-day silent meditation retreat, you're no doubt up to date on Roma's current crises. After successive defeats in the Derby della Capitale and the Champions League, Roma once again cleaned house. And while they may not have been shit canned by James Pallotta himself, both Eusebio Di Francesco and Monchi decided to cut their losses and sever their ties with AS Roma. While the move was speculated for weeks (if not months), it still sent a shock wave through the Romasphere, leaving many of us staggering to catch up.
Of course, the most important part of that recovery is finding a new man to suffer the slings and arrows in the manager box, and with the likes of Paulo Sousa and Roberto Donadoni being mentioned over the past several days, the pickings were indeed slim.
So, with only 12 weeks to play, millions of dollars at stake, and a hodgepodge of players in varying states of fitness looking for a new ringleader, Roma reached back into her past for inspiration, all the way back to 2009, back to the square jaw and welcoming arms of Claudio Ranieri, who piloted Roma for parts of two seasons between 2009 and 2011.
And if you lost your Roma Managerial Change Scorekeeper's book, let me help you out. For the 15th time in the past 20 years, and the seventh time in the American regime, Roma have made a managerial swap, only this time it was followed quickly by the Director of Sport packing his bags as well. I'd say it was business as usual, but this double whammy was a new one for Roma.
But never fear, Claudio is here!
Flying in quickly from London, Ranieri signed on for a second hitch with Roma, and as has been widely reported, Ranieri's deal runs solely through the end of this season; no incentives, implications or assurances of a full-term deal for the 2019-2020 season either.
At first blush it's hard to know what to make of this deal: Are Roma lining up someone else in the fall or was Ranieri simply not interested in making a long-term commitment at this point?
We should have that answer in a few months, but for now Ranieri seemed overjoyed to be returning to his former club (as both a player and manager) and the city of his birth, claiming it was impossible to say no to Roma.
"We must build a new spirit. We need to bring our fans with us, we need to show them something. Alone we can't do anything - with them we can do everything."— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 8, 2019
New boss Claudio Ranieri speaks... #ASRoma pic.twitter.com/c9DlyV9NGv
Ranieri immediately spoke about his goals, expectations and reasons for returning to Rome, and make no mistake, he is up against a monumental challenge. But this is one instance, and one that has very little logic or rational thinking behind it, where being a Roman might actually matter.
Outside of a young manager looking for his first shot, who in their right mind would willingly walk into this situation? The prior manager bemoaned the club's mentality constantly, your best defender is out three weeks, you have no margin for error in defense and your number nine has been all over the map recently.
It is about as far from an ideal situation as one can manage. Oh, and if you don't finish fourth, the club could miss out on millions, potentially making you a pariah in the process.
You'd have to be equal parts crazy and desperate to take on that challenge, or maybe you just have to be Roman.
There is a somewhat sharp divide among the fan-base when it comes to the romantic appeal of Roma and Romans. Where the logical among us scoff at the notion that being Roman somehow makes you special or uniquely adept at playing for or leading this club, the bleeding hearts among us see it as a virtue; an impossible to define one, but a virtue nonetheless.
I like to think I can traverse both sides of that divide, but this is one instance in which my heart has delivered a knockout blow to my brain.
I love Claudio, I love this move, and I love Roma's chances to turn this around.