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Miotto’s Musings, Volume IV: Following the Liverpool Model, Meret in Goal and Dzeko Back as Captain?

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A paean on patience, among other things.

SSC Napoli v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

If you’re even a casual fan of Roma, you roll your eyes a little bit whenever somebody mentions the club as a “long-term project.” The Stadio Della Roma is a “long-term project,” Roma becoming a Scudetto-winner is a “long-term project,” hell, Roma getting a kit sponsor was a “long-term project” that only kinda panned out with Qatar Airway’s three-year, €40 million deal.

Roma’s long-term projects are annoying because, for the most part, they don’t seem to pan out for the Giallorossi. We want to win now, and all focusing on a long-term project seems to do is push off the inevitable firing of the manager and overhaul of the squad. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that long-term projects are the only way to go for a club like Roma, and even when success is eventually (hopefully?) found, that title-winning window is going to be shorter than you’d like.

Liverpool Lose a Lot

Liverpool v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Which brings us to our frenemies across the English Channel, Liverpool F.C. I don’t have to tell you that the Merseyside club has been one of the most successful clubs in all of Europe these past couple years, in no small part due to contributions from former Romanisti Mo Salah and Alisson Becker. The Jürgen Klopp-led side already has a Premier League title and a Champions League cup to their name, despite really only kicking into gear in the 2018-2019 season. Many attribute this to Liverpool’s initial acceptance of growing pains with Klopp’s move from Borussia Dortmund to England, as well as a healthy spending spree endorsed by their ownership group, Fenway Sports Group.

Despite all of this success, Liverpool’s recent form has been garish, for lack of a better word. Their lowest point was undoubtedly their 4-1 loss to Manchester City, but in recent weeks they’ve also racked up embarrassing losses to Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton F.C., Burnley, and Manchester United. The “long-term project” that Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool have created seems to be hitting a rough patch.

Miotto’s Musing: First of all, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m getting a bit of schadenfreude out of seeing Liverpool struggle. That’s the original reason I decided to write about them this week; it’s nice to see the club that’s destroyed Roma far too many times stumble after an incredible run. In addition, Salah and Alisson were such a delight to watch in Rome, and neither player has been truly replaced by the Giallorossi since their respective departures.

Given that, let’s just say that somehow Roma’s next three years mimic Liverpool’s: two Champions League finals in two years, a Scudetto, and many labeling the club as the best in recent history. Would Romanisti complain if it all started falling apart in year three? Well, yes, definitely, because Romanisti love to complain. Even so, I think it would do a lot of Roma supporters a world of good to recognize that barring a Juventus here or a PSG there, the best-case scenario for a club like Roma will be to develop a project that has a fantastic couple of years, just like Liverpool have.

Getting to where Liverpool have gone requires patience: patience with managers, patience with Directors of Sport, patience with players. How long the time at the peak will be is anybody’s guess. Sometimes it’s only one season of true excellence after years of build-up. But you never get to that peak if you fire managers willy-nilly, just like you don’t get to that peak if you sell your crown jewels at the first sign of a mega-transfer deal. For a club like Roma, even one year of true excellence (and the silverware that could bring) would be a big change from business as usual. That’s the goal for Tiago Pinto and The Friedkin Group, and although “Roma 2.0” has been announced countless times, I’m starting to get some hope that this summer might actually be the time Roma walks the walk and talks the talk.

Maybe A Move For Meret?

SSC Napoli v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Franco Romano/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Meanwhile, there seems to be some goalkeeper drama just south of Rome, but instead of struggling with too many mediocre goalies like the Giallorossi, Napoli seems to be struggling with having too many good goalies on the books. Reports from Calciomercato.com suggest that Italian international Alex Meret has fallen from Gennaro Gattuso’s favor, as Colombian David Ospina is now starting at goalie for I Partenopei. Antonio De Laurentiis has reportedly put a 30 million price-tag on the young and promising goalkeeper, with both Inter and Roma interested in bringing the shot-stopper to their respective clubs.

Miotto’s Musing: Now this is the kind of rumor I want to see when Roma has an obvious area of need in the squad. If not for Gianluigi Donnarumma, Meret would probably be Italy’s #1 goalkeeper, and he would be a quick injection of quality for the Giallorossi between the sticks. You should also note that both Meret and Juan Musso are reportedly on Inter and Roma’s radar; this makes sense, since both the Nerazzurri and the Giallorossi are in need of a long-term solution in goal, but still, expect a lot of jockeying between the two clubs for players like this, at least in the newspapers.

Džeko Defenders

AS Roma v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Edin Džeko’s dramatic falling-out with Paulo Fonseca has had its ups and downs, but things seemed to have settled down enough between the two after Džeko was allowed back into the squad, albeit without the captaincy. La Gazzetta Dello Sport (via Football Italia) is now reporting that not every loose end has been tied up in the feud, however, as it now appears that many of the players in the senior squad, including presumed future captain Lorenzo Pellegrini, are now requesting that Fonseca return the captaincy to Džeko. As of right now, the club has refused this request, with the company line still being what Tiago Pinto said in his press conference: the issue is resolved, “Roma is a family”, but Džeko has lost the captaincy.

Miotto’s Musing: Personally, I’m kind of done with the idea of Džeko as captain, but it appears that much of the Roma squad disagrees with me. At the end of the day, the captain is supposed to be the player the rest of the squad looks to for leadership, the guy who is the face of the squad. Do I think that late-career Edin Džeko is the right choice for that role? No. Yet the fact that my favored captain and the most likely future captain, Lorenzo Pellegrini, is among the voices in the squad pushing for Džeko to be reinstated makes it clear that in the eyes of the movers and shakers in the squad, Džeko has been a good captain. If it makes the squad happy, and Džeko can show himself to be more than a bench player at this point in his career, then in bocca al lupo, Edin.