This was a deflating match to watch. Watching one 2-0 loss is tough; watching a second 2-0 loss in the span of five days is both painful and inexcusable. Roma’s battle against Udinese was supposed to be a fairly simple affair; Roma has aspirations for European qualification where Udinese is simply trying to stay afloat and avoid relegation. Yet here we are, with qualification for the Champions League through Serie A essentially an impossibility and the entire club to blame.
We’re all sinners when Roma loses 2-0 to Udinese, but one player I will give a quick shout-out to is Carles Perez, the one Giallorossi player who looked half-decent yesterday. As bren said in the post-match report, the ex-Barcelona winger showed that he has the agility and tactical knowledge to be a force for a better club than Roma is acting like at the moment. Six shots on goal, three shots on target: he certainly was the only attacking player who deserved to be wearing a Roma shirt versus Udinese.
With that, here are the most egregious sinners of Roma-Udinese.
If you get a red card before 30 minutes have elapsed in a match, you’re probably going to find yourself on the Sinners list the next day. Add in the fact that Diego Perotti wore the captain’s armband and did the exact opposite of rising to the occasion, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he was the most sinful of all Giallorossi players against Udinese.
It’s been clear for quite a while that Perotti is simply no longer at the level of quality needed for a club with Roma’s aspirations. He has spent more time injured than playing in the last few seasons, and he absolutely wasted one of the few opportunities he has been given by Paulo Fonseca to start ahead of Justin Kluivert. Some people have been debating the red card he received, saying dribblers very rarely should be getting carded like that. I would argue the fact that he got a red in such a bizarre way only confirms that he completely deserved it; he was dribbling and stamped on an Udinese player’s leg, earning a red that sparked the beginning of the end for Roma.
This loss to Udinese confirmed that Roma needs to have yet another rejuvenation of its squad. Along with Juan Jesus, Diego Perotti should be among the first to leave the Olimpico, Friedkin buyout or no.
This brings me to my next point: you can criticize Paulo Fonseca, Gianluca Petrachi, Morgan De Sanctis, or even a player who is obviously past his prime like Diego Perotti all you want. The real sinner out of all the Romanisti at fault for Roma’s situation is James Pallotta. You will never know if you have the best possible manager you can have if you have a bad owner. You will never know if your Director of Football is finding the best deals if you have a bad owner. You will never know if your squad is maximizing its potential if you have a bad owner. At this point, I think we have to realize that Pallotta is a bad owner, plain and simple.
Pallotta telling the Corriere Dello Sport that the match was “embarrassing” is obviously an acknowledgement of reality, but if there’s one thing we’ve never really seen from Roma’s current president, it is introspection or awareness that some of the issues that consistently plague Roma could be his fault. The merry-go-round in management, the supermarket attitude towards the sales of stars, the lack of progress on the Stadio Della Roma, the seemingly-botched sale to The Friedkin Group: these are all symptoms of a much larger problem, which is that James Pallotta does not know how to properly run a football club. It’s either that, or he trusts the wrong people to run his football club over and over again, which is arguably worse.
Some may see a 2-0 loss to relegation-battling Udinese as an indicator that Paulo Fonseca should be worried about his job security. In my mind, if Roma had smart ownership, he would have very little reason to be worried; with current ownership, however, I’m less sure. Other big clubs in Serie A have given their management more chances to fail in the short-term, understanding that developing some form of consistency in management and personnel is crucial to developing the proper mentality in an organization. Pallotta has never seemed to understand that. Hopefully Roma can end this chapter of her history sooner rather than later, because I don’t know how much longer I can be regularly reading about the reality TV-style management of the Giallorossi.
I have less vitriol for Cengiz Ünder today, partially because he’s most likely headed to Napoli in the near future and partially because at his best in Rome, he’s been a thrilling watch. Yet matches like this confirm that it’s good for both parties to move on if the price is right. You can say that Fonseca put Ünder into a weird position on the field, you can say that he just doesn’t fit with Fonseca’s tactics period, you can give him all the excuses you want. Great players find a way to make it work, and despite the few months of greatness Ünder had in the spring of 2018, it seems that at least in Rome, Ünder isn’t going to find that greatness again.
If this was Cengiz Ünder’s last match with the Giallorossi (and it very well may have been), it will have been emblematic of his time in Rome: the pieces all seemed to be there, but it wasn’t enough to make a consistent impact on the scoreboard.
Hah. Just kidding.