We all have our traditions that help us get into the holiday spirit, where the holiday season either doesn’t start until we do that one thing, or it reaches its peak once we do. For me, it’s watching the timeless Jingle All The Way, easily the best Christmas movie and quite possibly Arnold Schwarzenegger’s greatest film.
In the world of football, Boxing Day matches are an easy reference point for this idea, and in the spirit of the holidays, I began to wonder, what would be on Roma’s holiday wishlist for the second half of the season?
Sure, we would all love for the Friedkin’s to give Tiago Pinto a blank check to sign Mbappe, Haaland, Messi, or any other Ballon D’Or candidate, but that’s way too easy.
So what exactly is on our holiday wishlist for the Giallorossi here at CdT?
Wish #1: Some Consistency
I think we can all agree that this is top of the wishlist for the second half of the season. As relieving as it was to watch Roma smack around Atalanta and finally break their duck against the top sides in Serie A, it was equally a tremendous gut-punch to watch the Giallorossi immediately drop points in their next match against lowly Sampdoria.
And this has been a consistent theme for Roma, particularly in recent seasons. One moment we’re cleaning up against the sides below us in the table, and the next we’re losing to the Spezia’s and Venezia’s of the world.
For a club with aspirations and expectations like Roma does, consistency is the difference between achieving your goals and falling just short, between qualifying for the Champions League or slinking into the Europa Conference League. With everything to play for in the second half of the season, it’s on Mourinho and Co. to finally unlock the consistency that’s been missing from this team for so long.
Wish #2: A Sharp Drop in Form for Our Champions League Rivals
I won't hold my breath for this one but a guy can dream, right? With the Giallorossi currently mired in sixth place, six points behind Atalanta, Roma need the teams above them to drop points in order to keep pace for the coveted Champions League spots, namely Napoli and Atalanta, the two most likely candidates to drop out of the race for top four.
Based on current form, Napoli seem the most likely of the two clubs to drop out of the race and allow Roma to slot in their place, but with Juve in fifth and liable to go on an extended run in the league at a moment’s notice, the Giallorossi are hoping for both Napoli and Atalanta to fall into an extended funk.
With difficult games against Milan and Juve on the docket for the beginning of the year, Roma can ill afford to drop points AND have their top-four rivals continue to fire on all cylinders.
Wish #3: A Successful Winter Transfer Market
What constitutes success for the winter market? Offloading Fazio, Santon, and any other of the players on Mourinho’s naughty list? Securing that defensive midfielder and backup right-back? A combination of both?
Whichever way you lean, we know that typically the winter market is quiet for most teams, leaving me all the more skeptical that significant moves will be made for Roma this upcoming window. What we do know is that securing a defensive midfielder and backup right-back has been discussed ad nauseam throughout Mourinho’s tenure, so while I don't expect a player that will catapult Roma into the top four all on his own, I will count on Pinto delivering the reinforcements that Mourinho so desperately craves.
In addition to this, offloading even more of the “deadwood” in the club, namely Fazio and Santon, would constitute a successful window for Pinto, setting the stage for Pinto and Mourinho to further shape the squad in Mourinho’s image come next summer’s transfer window.
Wish #4: More Competent Refereeing
So, I think this one goes out without saying, right? How many times this season has Roma been the victim of terrible refereeing displays and have dropped points as a result? This isn’t something we should be worrying about, especially in the Age of VAR, but here we are seemingly week-in and week-out commenting on the quality of refereeing. We saw in the Atalanta match just how crucial competent refereeing is, from Atalanta’s equalizer correctly being chalked off by VAR to the numerous clashes in the box between Smalling and Zapata, where on a different day with a different refereeing crew, we could easily have seen a penalty given Atalanta’s way.
That isn’t to say that Roma were blameless in dropping points in these matches where a big call went against them, but as we saw in the Atalanta match, these decisions can be extremely deflating and there’s a clear shift in momentum when one of these calls goes against you.
To be honest, I’ll be happy with any one of these things, but in the spirit of the holiday, we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed over here at CdT HQ for all four items on our wishlist. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate and a happy holiday to those who don't!