Our new Picks to Click series, where we attempt to essentially predict the Man of the Match ahead of time, is only a few weeks old, but today's rendition may be the most important one yet. All new Roma managers—and there have been a lot of them, in case you'd forgotten—are gifted a brief honeymoon period; a time in which the slings and arrows of the Eternal City are temporarily holstered. It's not as if the managers are infallible during this grace period, but they seldom feel the full Roma effect: the outrageous swings of emotions where doom and gloom are often quickly followed by effusive praise and outlandish expectations.
After a near-perfect start to his tenure as Roma manager, José Mourinho was living the high life. But as summer gave way to fall and the Giallorossi started dropping points to clubs like Hellas Verona and Lazio, Mourinho started to lose a bit of his luster. While those defeats were disheartening, they weren't enough to engender any bad blood between Mourinho and the Roman press, but after watching his club get destroyed 6-1 by tiny Bodø/Glimt, The Special One's honeymoon period came to a screeching halt.
Suddenly, Mourinho's every move, every decision, and every word was dissected, his genius questioned and his future with the club even came into question. Like we said, after a few months of bliss, Mourinho's inability to defeat Bodø brought the full Roma experience crashing down on the shoulders of the 58-year-old manager.
Since that 6-1 embarrassment, Roma's fortunes have continued to fluctuate, as the club played the previously perfect Partnopei of Napoli to a tough scoreless draw before eeking out a 2-1 win over Cagliari on the road and then falling to Milan in another controversial defeat last weekend.
With the harsh light of reality staring him in the face, José Mourinho needs a big win in the worst way, so here are a handful of names who might have revenge on their minds tonight at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma's young left-back has nearly as much potential as any of the club's other U-23 talents, but in this, his first full season with the senior club, the 19-year-old Roman has struggled for consistency, both in terms of opportunity and quality of play. But with starting left-back Matías Viña succumbing to a late injury, Calafiori will likely have 90 minutes to prove himself against Bodø.
This Pick to Click may have been born out of an unexpected opportunity, but it is an opportunity all the same. Calafiori has all the physical tools and if he can come out and play fast, loose and aggressive, he could have a tremendous impact on the bottom line today.
While it would be great if Mancini chipped in a headed goal off a setpiece or poked home a loose ball to score the match-winner, his selection today is all about his defensive gifts. Bodø surprised Roma last time out thanks in large part to the superlative performances of Erik Botheim, Patrick Berg, and Ola Sobakken, who each made mincemeat out of Marash Kumbulla and the rest of Roma's defense.
By simply making a nuisance of himself, by getting in Botheim’s personal space, by bodying Sobakken out of position or teaming up with Roger Ibañez to deny Berg room through the middle, Mancini is dripping with MOTM potential.
When you're attempting to erase the pain of a 6-1 defeat, the first place to turn is defense. And if Mancini can inspire his teammates to turn in 90 minutes of suffocating defensive play, Roma will have the last laugh.
Roma's €45 million man is in a bit of a funk right now, failing to find the back of the net in his last six club matches, so this pick is all about necessity. Tammy Abraham isn't some U-23 wallflower, nor was he plucked from obscurity, and as the most expensive signing in club history (once all the bonuses are factored in), he has to produce...now. We can talk all we want about adjustments to a new league or shots hitting the post, but the time for excuses is running out—you only get so much leeway at that price point.
Turning in a strong performance against Bodø today—something along the lines of four or five shots and two goals—could be the springboard Abraham needs to start meeting those enormous expectations.
This guy has the goods, but now it's time for him to produce.
Karsdorp got some much-needed rest the last time these two clubs met, but his understudy, 20-year-old Bryan Reynolds, had a horror show against Bodø two weeks ago, leading many to clamor for a winter loan for the young American full-back. With Roma in dire need of a win today, Karsdorp may have no choice but to play 90 minutes.
When Karsdorp plays well—think of his performances against Salernitana, Udinese, Empoli, and Napoli—Roma plays well. If Karsdorp can get up the pitch tonight, providing width to stretch out the Bodø defense, and whip in a few tasty crosses for Abraham, Roma might just walk away with an easy win.
With an international break coming after this weekend's tilt against Venezia, there will be plenty of time for rest, so look for Karsdorp to go whistle-to-whistle tonight.
Those are our picks, so you tell us which one is most likely to click!
Who is your pick to click against Bodø?
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