Claudio Ranieri has become the new favourite to take the Roma coaching job full-time into next season, after Antonio Conte publicly made it known he isn’t interested in sitting on the Roma bench right now. Conte ruled himself out of the job in an exclusive interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport, breaking in today’s issue.
“I fell in love with Rome each time I visited during my two years as Italy’s coach,” Conte told the Gazzetta. “At the Olimpico, you feel the passion from a part of this city that lives football with a different kind of intensity. Whoever supports Roma goes out of their minds. It’s a passionate atmosphere that moves you. Today, the conditions aren’t right [to coach Roma]. But I think one day, sooner or later, I will become Roma coach.”
Anyway, we’ve heard this all before from the likes of Carlo Ancelotti. So thanks for being clear, Conte, but there’s no need for us to comb through this story further.
Where does this latest setback in the manager hunt leave the club? With Maurizio Sarri having successfully achieved Chelsea’s target of Champions League football for next season, he’s firmly content in London. Jose Mourinho has already indirectly turned down the Roma job through the press despite conflicting reports out of France that Roma are in negotiations with him. And now Conte is out.
These were the only three names considered a stonewall upgrade from the second-tier coaching talents that Roma have burned through over the last 8 years. And now James Pallotta may just have to eat humble pie and ask Claudio Ranieri if he’d accept holding the reigns to Roma on a more long-term basis.
Bad Decisions Unsurprisingly Come Home To Roost for Roma
Would Claudione even accept a job offer at this point? It’s one thing to accept an unfair assignment like the one Ranieri’s been given from March until the end of this season, out of ‘duty’ and love for the club. The doomsday scenario under which Ranieri accepted the caretaker job was only something you’d expect from a Football Manager Challenge file rather than real life.
Under these conditions, Roma have gone from winning 2 points per league game in 2019 under Di Francesco to winning 1.7 points per league game under Ranieri. Before the 3-0 Cagliari win, it was looking particularly bleak as Roma had gone from a positive goal difference of +3 under Di Francesco in 2019 to a negative goal difference of -1 under Ranieri.
Since the Cagliari game, thankfully at least the goal difference is back to +2. But the club will need further slip-ups from Milan, Inter and Atalanta all put together to realise a top 4 finish in May. Rather than this being any kind of indictment of the job Ranieri has done, the numbers just point to one obvious truth that shouldn’t need to be pointed out to Pallotta: You don’t hire new coaches in the middle of March and expect to get anything out of that decision other than lost momentum.
No truly competitive club comes up with “Plan B” rhetoric in the middle of winter, let alone the spring. Rather than injecting the ‘Solskjaer effect’ (which is already well and truly over for Manchester United) into the club for a top 4 finish, Pallotta just made the team’s objectives even harder to reach than had he not interfered at all.
Pallotta’s Roma Left Rejected By Everyone and Chasing Plan B
So what does Ranieri need to accept the job full-time? People with calm heads who think in the long and short-term would be a start. Otherwise, just be honest that you’re not running a competitive football club and let a guy know where he really stands before you offer him a job. That’s just the bare minimum.
On top of that, a fitness regime that brings down the muscular injuries to well below 50 a season should be a bigger priority than anything the club plans on the transfer market. There is no use splashing money on talent, if that talent is just going to wind up on the injury table. On a positive note, the club negotiating to bring Paolo Bertelli back to the club is a step in the right direction.
Then you’d need a sporting director who signs the talent. Lille’s president Gerard Lopez letting it be known publicly that Roma already approached (and was personally rejected by) Luis Campos doesn’t bode well for getting the next man into the sporting director role.
Effectively that makes Gianluca Petrachi Roma’s second option for sporting director. And why would Petrachi agree to bring the wrath of Turin down upon him, just to go be second-choice in Rome? Be careful what you wish for. James Pallotta lamented the lack of Plan B, and now that may be all he has left to chase on the non-playing staff market.
What has Ranieri brought to the job that can benefit Roma in the long-term? A change of style, and great man-management. Nothing more or less. The first is subjective as to whether you like Roma’s new playing style or not. But the refreshing transparency in Ranieri’s approach to sorting out the dressing room was unquestionably needed at the club, to make the players’ live easier in expressing themselves on the pitch.
The results with players like Justin Kluivert, in such a short amount of time, speak for themselves. And certainly more of the kind of balance of play we saw in Roma’s 3-0 win over Cagliari would be welcome for next season, week in week out.
Is that possible with this coach and this team over a full season and three competitions?
Unless someone like a Marco Giampaolo really makes good on his threat to leave the Sampdoria at the end of the season (and even then it’s unlikely Giampaolo sees the working conditions in Rome as any better), Roma may not have a better option but to try and convince Ranieri to stay.