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Roma Season Review Roundtable Discussion, Part I

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The CdT crew assembled to discuss the positive aspects of the season gone by. Yes, there were a few.

UC Sampdoria v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

Ordinarily, I'd say that it takes a few weeks, if not months, to properly gain perspective on a recently concluded season. However, the last two renditions of AS Roma have been pretty conclusive, though for starkly different reasons. Sure, Roma didn't win the Scudetto after the 2017-2018 season, but they had that miraculous run through the Champions League and managed to qualify for the competition the following season; that's a winning season any way you slice it.

Things were no less ambiguous this season, either. But, you know, in a bad way. Not only were Roma drummed out of the Champions League in the first knockout stages, but thanks to a series of missteps along the way, the Giallorossi narrowly missed qualification for the 2019-2020 version, and stand at the precipice of silly season with neither a manager nor a director of sport.

I'll spare you the gloom and doom for a bit and focus on the brighter spots of the season just concluded. As is our custom, the CdT crew assembled to reflect on Roma's run through the 2018-2019 season.

1. If you can, give us a four sentence summary of Roma’s season.

Bren: High off their Champions League run last season, Roma got a bit crazy on the transfer market, shopping for the sake of shopping while not adequately replacing the positions that needed it most--goalkeeper and defense. Couple that with their customary run of injuries and some of EDFs tactics falling on deaf ears, and things got sour pretty quickly, and when they failed to bring in any winter reinforcements, it was clear as day: Di Francesco had to make this work, and, well, he didn’t. While Ranieri was a feel good story, the odds were always stacked against him. In sum, Roma did a lot of things this season, but very few of them were necessarily the right things.

dallagente: Roma assembles the tallest squad in European… possibly world… football. This hit-squad full of giants, however, does NOT manage to intimidate regional government into taking Roma’s new stadium seriously.

ssciavillo: All in all this season was a disappointment, filled with injuries and missed opportunities. It all started with a poor mercato, which was in turn followed by poor results. There were dropped too many points against provincial sides. This, resulting in missing out on the Champions League to sides which were underwhelming.

JonAS: Four? I’ll give ya six: SPAL. SPAL. SPAL. SPAL. SPAL. And oh look, SPAL! A team that doesn’t win a single point in one season against SPAL doesn’t belong in the CL. Simply put: Roma only has itself to blame.

Bren: Brilliant..haha!

Jimmy Miotto: Monchi Magic meant misery. De Rossi driven out of Roma. Pallotta pushed by pissed tifosi. Ranieri returns, wringing something out of ridiculous underperformance.

2. Before we get into what went wrong, give us two things Roma can hang their hats on this season.

dallagente: The sense of unity from the fans who’ve seen it all before. The celebration on the final day of the season was redemptive for me. I underestimated how much I’ve really enjoyed my time supporting this club.

ssciavillo: For one, I have to say Nicoló Zaniolo. Even though he struggled a bit under Ranieri, the talent is there. He looks like the player we can build around long term. Also, I have to agree with dallagente. It was nice to see the final day turned into a celebration of De Rossi rather than a protest of Pallotta. I also think that has to do with Daniele handling the situation as graciously as he did even though he has to be extremely bitter deep down.

Bren: I’ll go with El Shaarawy asserting himself as the club’s most dangerous attacking talent and for the second one, I’ll reach deep; the late emergence of Steven Nzonzi. With De Rossi gone, they’ll need his talents in front of the defense next season, though his performance may (again) depend on the man calling the shots; he was a completely different player under Ranieri than EDF.

JonAS: A coat rack and {Redacted for the innocence of our readers} Both should be long and strong enough to put a lot of hats on it. In a more serious matter: SES has been influential and dazzling up front while Kolarov, mind you not the greatest LB ever, still managed to score eight frikkin’ goals this season, as a defender. Remember the times we had Dodo, Taddei or Angel as left backs? Yeah, Forza Kolarov!

Jimmy: Nicolo Zaniolo is the obvious answer, if he sticks around. If not, well, I liked this season’s away kit! But then, that Hyundai logo... so, I guess Zaniolo it is.

3. Who was Roma’s MVP this season?

ssciavillo: I’m going to have to go with Stephan El Shaarawy for this one. In a season full of darkness Il Faraone really stepped up and performed like a player realizing his potential. With many of the senatori likely on the way out I think he can take up an important leadership role along with players like Florenzi, Pellegrini, and whoever is still around out of Manolas, Fazio, and Kolarov.

Bren: No argument from me, and it goes deeper than his scoring; he did some great work winning balls back and tracking back on defense. For a few years now, I sort of assumed he’d peaked, but he really showed some signs of maturity this year and seems like he’s ready to be a real leader out there.

dallagente: I’ve gotta say I was ready to give it to Lorenzo Pellegrini but I went over the pattern of Roma’s most dominant games with the ball this season to be sure. And Pellegrini doesn’t figure as a constant there. So I’ll go along with everyone and say Stephan El Shaarawy, though I’m not as high on SES as you guys. His goals are great when he does score, he’s fast and he’s got a great first touch. But he’s still a man who should be played up front for me.

JonAS: I’m tempted to say SES, since he’s our top scorer. Zaniolo, Cristante and Pellegrini all had some great patches, but SES was the most consistent of all. Also, if Antonio Mirante had been our no1 after New Year, then he would have been my pick for sure. Hey good lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?

Jimmy: SES is the answer. He was exactly the type of winger EDF wanted to play with, and continued to find use once Ranieri came in. In addition, SES’s effort felt consistently noticeable to me; in a season where a lot of players seemed to be only putting in 50% sometimes, that unfortunately makes you one of the few possible candidates for MVP.

4. Maybe not your MVP, but give us one guy who really stepped up as the season wore on.

ssciavillo: Hands down Mirante. He kept Roma in the Champions League race with some great individual performances down the stretch. His impact extended to those in front of him as well. He helped organize a defense that was in shambles throughout the season. It just makes you wonder if we’d be Champions League bound if he started even just a handful more games.

dallagente: Alex Kolarov. He’s had a few setbacks with ruining the team’s offside traps, and maybe we weren’t used to him taking on his man a lot less this season. Nonetheless, he broke records this season. He’s still put in the most sprinting in the team of anyone, and covered the most running behind only Nzonzi and Cristante, while he developed a great understanding with Justin Kluivert whenever Kluivert played on the right wing. Kolarov also played the most minutes of out anyone, including playing through a broken foot while the club felt confident enough to loan out his direct replacement in January.

JonAS: I agree with Bren earlier on, Nzonzi really stepped up since Ranieri was in charge. Will it be enough to stay in the Eternal City? Who knows but now that DDR is gone, we need bodies in that DM position. And boy, Steven is one big, tall mothafucka. We just need to find a system that suits him best so we don’t have to spend €30m on a new DM this Summer.

Bren: You know, when I came up with this question it didn’t even dawn on me that Mirante was the obvious answer. I won’t try and reinvent the wheel; he was absolutely sensational when called upon.

Jimmy: Mirante! Still wish Olsen had panned out, though.

We'll be back with part two tomorrow, where we delve into the gigantic cracks in Roma's facade.