Commenting on the latest "Future Ex-Roma Manager" article I joked about TFG luring Capello out of retirement, I'm a younger fan and while I was alive when he lead Roma to our latest Scudetto I was too young to appreciate his soccer. However, I think that idea was my subconscious reminding me of Jon's article from March 22nd. That article really does explain everything I was thinking about for this Roma quite well and so I'll hyperlink it here; give it a read and come back to this. I'll talk about each position in the same way, what could immediately work and what moves would still need to be made.
The Keeper: Mirante, Lopez or Fuzato
I grew up playing as a hockey goalie and while the sports are completely different the mentality of the lonely guy in net remains the same. Mirante might have some very redeeming qualities as a backup, but he's just that. Lopez doesn't have the mental strength to focus for a full 90, and Fuzato remains an unknown. I don't need to elaborate here. We need a new keeper but I don't think we should be chasing the next Becker, a known quantity who has grown up playing in Serie A such as Silvestri would be a perfect fit.
The Centrebacks: Mancini, Smalling, Kumbulla
There are a few positions here where we have "locks." These are players who are at the club, fit the positions and can have some longevity with us. I've omitted Ibanez because I think he's going to be gone in the Summer and the importance of solid defensive play cannot be understated when playing with three at the back. Kumbulla is a wall. If Ibanez sticks around we have great depth and rotation for the litany of injuries we will surely endure.
The Wingbacks: Spinazzola, Karsdorp
Spinazzola has been playing like a lock, and Calafiori is there on the bench to step in behind him. On the right we have more room for discussion. Karsdorp is showing some form, yet he hasn't convinced. Peres' resurgence has given Karsdorp some competition on the right and Roma has been in the market for wingbacks on the right. We've seen some interesting success with Cuadrado at Juventus and so I'm going to propose Roma do something similar, bring Kluivert back from loan and try him out there. He showed some immense defensive potential while he was here and there should be less expectation to do complicated or inventive things in the final-third. Simply crush with your speed, work some give-and-go's and hit some nice crosses. The final-third play decision-making seemed to hamper him big-time before.
Defensive mid and Box-to-Box: Veretout, Pellegrini, Villar, Cristante
I've included all four here because this rotation has been working for us for some time now and I like the way all of them play. A formation and starting eleven are a great way to create an "identity" for your team but at the end of the day each team you play against is different and the manager must adapt. The midfield is the most important area of adaptation and four options allows for that. I'm quite a fan of our midfield four rotation and one of my biggest qualms with Fonseca has been his reluctance to switch midfielders who are not playing well early in the match, we have options for a reason and by not using them he fails to highlight the depth and versatility of these players.
Trequartista: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
This one is a lock. He's in form, he fits the position, and he's shown some real durability this season if he were to continue getting big minutes. What I'm more concerned with at this position is depth. Could Pedro play here? I don't think so. El Sha would be a nice addition as a substitute at this position and could also work as a substitute in the small striker position. Finally, Pellegrini is thought of by many as the future trequartista at Roma. I believe he needs to be on the pitch and because of his ability to play deeper in the midfield he should continue his great work there until Mikhi has a rough stretch. When that time comes he can stake his claim, until then Mikhi is quite simply too good to not have on the pitch.
The Tall and Small Striker: Mayoral and Dzeko (but really let's revamp this whole thing)
We started at one end of the pitch where I have little-to-no faith in whoever is currently supposed to be our number one keeper. We've ended up at the other end of the pitch and similar sentiments arise. Dzeko is certainly a great striker, but he ebbs and flows. The Serie A season however does not ebb and flow; it works on a schedule and the players have to come to the Studio each time their team's name is on that schedule and play their hearts out, they don't always have to be great, but they must always play their hearts out. When Dzeko ebbs I don't think anyone would argue that he certainly isn't playing his heart out, he walks around like some depressed version of slender man trying to spook the opposition by towering over them when our keeper kicks the ball out to him and he uses his good hold up play to gain possession only to vanish for the rest of the match.
Mayoral could fit in the small striker role, he's had some nice matches this season and has shown potential. I say try him there and see what happens. If El Sha does come into the team then there will be competition at this spot. Pedro could even adapt as a tiny second striker, but frankly he hasn't found a spot in my lineup because I'm not convinced of his qualities or his durability. Supersub?
Zaniolo: What to do with him?
I haven't put Zaniolo into this formation because of his injuries and because I don't think he's had enough time in the Roma kit to truly identify his ideal position. I watched the Dzeko documentary recently and was struck by how skinny he was in his youth, certainly similar to Zaniolo. Big Striker then? Jon mentioned him as a box-to-box midfielder in his article, and test this could probably work wonders as well. Heck if he wants to put in some serious change I could see him being the best right wingback out of all the options we have! Anyways, this is to say that Zaniolo clearly has massive potential and the only way to know where he could fit is to pull a Tinkerman with him and try him out in all the positions.
Verdict: Lopez (Silvestri though) / Mancini, Smalling, Kumbulla / Kluivert, Pellegrini, Veretout, Spinazzola / Mkhitaryan / Mayoral, Dzeko
I have never written an article for Chiesa before (even though this is essentially plagiarism) but I think that this was a nice way to build off the Future Ex-Roma Manager thread. Fonseca seems to have been given a bit of a second chance in the back half of this season and so why not make some changes. Peaky Blinders if you're reading this; please go to the market and buy some peperoncini, eat a bunch before our next match and get some fire up your ass on the bench. There's no fans in the stadiums, the boom mic is 10 feet away from you and I haven't heard you swear once this season.