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The Great Roma Questionnaire Extraordinaire: 2019 Edition, Part II

In part two of our annual roundtable discussion, the CdT crew takes a look at Roma before the new season commences.

Aleksandar Kolarov of AS Roma reacts at the end of the Mabel... Photo by Andrea Staccioli/LightRocket via Getty Images

Yesterday in part one of our Roundtable discussion we poured over the ins and outs of Roma's competitors, weighing and measuring the moves some of Roma's rivals made this summer, but today we're turning the attention squarely back on the Giallorossi.

1. It’s been another period of upheaval for Roma over the past six months, but did they get it right with Petrachi and Fonseca?

dallagente: It’s worth remembering neither man was the club’s first choice for either role. First they were turned down by Lille’s Campos before going to Petrachi, and we know they held out for Conte and Gasperini before going to Fonseca. But, whether by accident or otherwise, I think they got a good duo in those two. I’m looking forward to the football under Fonseca, and Petrachi had me at Diawara.

JonAS: I like the way Petrachi does business. A lot different than Monchi and that’s a relief. But the jury is still open on Fonseca. He wants to play attractive football and that’s a noble idea but Serie A isn’t the same as the Ukranian league or even Europe. It’s a long, tough road and there will be hiccups and surprises along the way. Let’s see how Fonseca survives the first 3-4 rounds (including the always tense derby) and then we’ll talk further.

Jimmy: In all honesty, I can’t really judge until we’ve seen a couple months of matches; Rudi Garcia looked like the second coming of Jesus Christ during his first half-season at Roma, and I was one of the rubes who was incredibly excited by Monchi’s signings his first summer. However, there haven’t really been any head-scratching moves on the part of either Petrachi or Fonseca, and Fonseca seems to have done a lot to convince Edin Dzeko to stay with the Giallorossi. All in all, I’m cautiously optimistic that this dynamic duo might last a little longer than EDF and Monchi.

ssciavillo: It’s obviously still early considering Roma haven’t played a competitive match yet. However, I’m going to cautiously say that I like what I’ve seen so far. Petrachi is a hard bargaining and didn’t unload Dzeko at the first opportunity. I also think he’s putting Fonseca in the best possible position to succeed considering that he’s bringing in players that fit his system. I haven’t seen a whole lot the preseason matches, just bits and pieces, but they played Real Madrid tough and didn’t lose a match. I think Fonseca can succeed in Serie A if given the time and players. My initial reaction is two good hires, but I have a good feeling about these two.

Bren: I feel better about them now than I did a few months ago; they’ve certainly hit all the right notes this summer and I feel like Fonseca is really going to get the best out of Roma’s best players, but if the past eight years have shown anything, the manager and DS are really limited by Roma’s general organizational impatience and lack of direction. So part of me thinks that, even though these guys weren’t the first choice, they may have backed into the right choice.

2. What excites you most about Roma this season?

dallagente: The support for the man on the ball. We saw in pre-season that Roma are already offering the man in possession at least two teammates open (one a dummy pass to distract the opposition and the other the real open pass) at any given time. And I like that we commit two full backs up front now, always ready to switch wings to make opponents chase more.

JonAS: Our wingers. I really believe Kluivert, Ünder and Perotti will shine this season. Hell, why not even put Florenzi there while we’re at it. Finally out with the 4-3-3. Let’s play a formation that suits these boys the most.

Jimmy: Yes, this might be my answer nearly every season, but I’m really excited to see which of our younger players explodes. The fact that Justin Kluivert was number five on our youth countdown this season shows that Romanisti have a lot of exciting prospects to be rooting for. Kluivert, Ünder, Diawara, Pellegrini and Zaniolo all look like they could become world-class someday. Will they all do that anywhere, let alone at Roma? Probably not, but it’ll be cool to watch them develop.

ssciavillo: I have to go with Jimmy here, I’m excited to see what a lot of the young guys can do. Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Kluivert, Ünder, Diawara are all talented and could explode under Fonseca. It also excites me that we are building a strong contingent on the Italian national team.

Bren: I like the look of Fonseca football in attack; the multiple options and use of space is an enticing prospect. I expect a lot of high scoring matches this season and if they can avoid getting picked apart on the counter, I think good results will flow.

3. What worries you most about Roma this season?

dallagente: The fitness and injury record. I hope they cleared that up. You don’t go anywhere with 50 muscle injuries in one season. I also worry that we’ll still come up too slow to open up teams who sit deep from open play, but if we keep our first-choice set-piece takers fit then we can open up those games on dead-balls. Napoli do it all the time and they kept saying the Partonopei play beautiful football. Yeah sure, for about 20 minutes a game after a Koulibaly header has put them up 1-0 already. Hopefully Lorenzo Pellegrini setpieces to Mancini can be the crowbar we need.

JonAS: If Schick stays and something happens with Dzeko (injury, long suspension), then we’re f*cked. The CB situation right now isn’t ideal but who cares, just score one more than the opposition. But if we lose Dzeko for a long period, then we’re suddenly left with Defrel and Schick. Schick isn’t the right guy to play ST in Fonseca’s 4-2-3-1 while Defrel is bench material at best. That’s why getting Llorente for free as vice Dzeko would be a smart move. Then you can safely sell Defrel and even Schick if a good offer comes in.

Jimmy: JonAS, as grateful as I am for Dzeko’s new deal, I honestly think having a two or three month period with Schick as our striker might be just the ticket to make him rediscover that Samp form. If successful, it’d also show that Fonseca can adapt as a coach, which is something I’m always looking for in a manager yet rarely find. No, what worries me the most about Roma this season is the injury record overall; we’ve gone through countless medical teams and still have more ACL injuries than you can shake a stick at. What started off as a joke is now an actual question: was Trigoria built on an ancient Roman burial ground?

ssciavillo: I think until Petrachi makes a move for another center back and maybe another right back, the defense still worries me a bit. I think there will be improvements this season just with the change in tactics but we need to be better defensively to compete for top 4.

Bren: I think the complete and utter lack of depth behind Dzeko is worrisome, doubly so because, as Jonas alluded to, Schick just hasn’t caught the eye this summer. The defense is largely unchanged from last season and will be even more susceptible to long balls and counter attacks, only this time they won’t have Manolas’ blinding speed, so it’s something to keep an eye on.

4. Roma didn’t sign many people this summer, but which one will have the most immediate impact?

dallagente: Pau Lopez. Vocal, encouraging and directing teammates constantly, and he’s already come out a few times to clear the danger.

JonAS: I wanted to say Pau Lopez too, but I’m going with Spinazzola. Finally a worthy plan B for Kolarov and Florenzi. He impressed me during preseason and I think he’ll be a starter after only 2 weeks, be it at right or left back. He’s suited for Fonseca’s system and his high demands. Spina is on a mission too: Getting an Azzurri call-up for Euro 2020. He has a lot to prove and Roma will reap the benefits.

Jimmy: If he gets consistent starter’s minutes, Amadou Diawara. He could be the metronome guiding Roma’s midfield for a decade if things play out just right.

ssciavillo: As much as I like Mancini and Diawara, the most immediate impact will be felt in goal with Pau Lopez. We no longer have a keeper glued to the line, who has no feet. Lopez will take pressure off the defensive with his feet and he already communicates well, which is huge.

Bren: I’m still shocked they nearly doubled his salary via the Petrachi Special, but in terms of age, experience and fit, I don’t think any new signing will hit the ground running quite like Spinazzola. Lopez should be an upgrade just by showing up, too.

5. Is there anyone else Roma should have signed this summer?

dallagente: Joachim Andersen. That Lyon put together a CB pairing of Andersen and Denayer for 37 million euros combined is surreal.

JonAS: Alderweireld. This was the perfect moment to bring Toby on board. FFS I wrote an entire piece here at CdT, dedicated to him and then Petrachi just turns his back on me and focuses on Lovren and Rugani. Don’t screw with Belgians, Gianluca...

Jimmy: Other than somehow hijacking that Christian Pulisic January loan-back move to reap all the kit sales, I’m honestly pretty satisfied with Petrachi’s transfer window. If we could have shipped out Schick, though, I would have loved to bring in Moise Kean. Bringing in Kean probably would guarantee a career-long stay in Rome for Zaniolo.

ssciavillo: Alderweireld would’ve been an ideal partner for Mancini in defense. I also wonder how feasible a move for Kean would’ve been. When I saw the move by Everton I wondered if Petrachi had even kicked the tires on a move. Maybe Juve wouldn’t even have sold to another Serie A team though. A Kean/Zaniolo combo would’ve been killer for years to come.

Bren: Shit, I forgot about Andersen. Yeah, that would have been a nice signing. I think Bennacer would have been a great addition for Roma, and it’s doubly worse that he went to a direct rival.

6. Have the lightning bolts grow on you at all?

dallagente: ⚡ C’mon, how can it not? ⚡ I may be alone but I feel the away kit is beautiful and fun. It looks a lot better in person than it did in the 3D renders.

JonAS: Meh. I just hope we won’t see any ‘shocking’ results from Roma this season.

Jimmy: I liked both kits from the get-go, but I’m going to buy the third kit. What can I say, I love actual collars on soccer kits.

ssciavillo: I liked the white kit with sash a few years ago when we first went with Nike and this year’s away kit plays off that so I like it. Depending on what the third kit looks like, I’ll either get that or the road kit. I don’t mind the home one either.

Bren: You know what? It actually has. I really like the home ones, but (for some reason) I keep thinking the away ones will look weird in the winter. Something about lightning bolts doesn’t say winter to me. They could walk around in Burberry for all I care if they just got rid of that fucking Hyundai logo on the back.

7. Roma’s top scorer this season will be….

dallagente: Cengo. (If I’m wrong about this I’ll say you misheard me say “Dzeko”).

JonAS: Dzeko. Well, I also wrote he would be the league’s top score so it would be strange if I suddenly jump ship.

Jimmy: Well, I said he’s going to be capocannoniere, so I guess I gotta go with Ünder, right?

ssciavillo: Dzeko. I feel like he’s going to have a big year. He looks reenergized under Fonseca.

Bren: I’m saying Únder with 16 league goals.

8. Roma will finish the season in __________ place

dallagente: 3rd. I’d like to say higher but playing mid-week on Thursday evenings is no joke, so that’s all the optimism you’re getting out of me.

JonAS: Second. The Rudi Garcia effect. Or, you know, seventh. The Luis Enrique effect.

Jimmy: Second, and we’re gonna have some late-season “man, what if we hadn’t lost to SPAL” heartbreak.

ssciavillo: I feel like we have enough to finish top 4 and get back in the CL. If everything goes right maybe we can pip Inter for third. Wouldn’t that be satisfying?

Bren: Second!? What the hell are you two smoking? I see another down to the wire knock down, drag out brawl for fourth place with at least three clubs involved.

9. If you could start a Year Zero with your life, what’s the first thing you would do?

dallagente: To be honest, I did. I made a change this past year by listening to my feelings first, and taking care to listen to everyone else in my inner circle second. Sometimes I just slam down the phone Petrachi-style and get on with what I have to do. And it works for now. It’s not perfect, it’s a work in progress and I’m sure I’ll outgrow this stage in the future to something calm again. But so far everyone’s happier and better fed as a result.

JonAS: Support Juventus so I can finally watch my team win something. Forza Juve!

*violent stabbing in the back by Bren, Sam, Jimmy and dallagente*

Jimmy: Well, in a way I’ll be doing that in a couple weeks. After a year living in Washington, D.C. post-graduation, I’m heading to the University of Chicago to get a Master of Public Policy (and probably a law degree too). So I guess I’ll have to wait and see what I do once I get to Chicago to actually know the answer to this one. If I had to guess, I’ll probably go for a run, make some pizza from scratch, and do some songwriting.

ssciavillo: In a way I did by getting married this summer. It’s the first time I’ve lived with a woman who’s not my mom or sister. So, I guess in effect it is year zero of the Sciavillo family and a whole new experience.

Bren: Wow, you all went way more sincere than I thought...haha. I guess it depends on how far back I could rewind, but I like the idea of becoming craftsmen, working with stone in some capacity. There’s something about the ancient connection to it that I always found appealing.