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The Future Ex-Roma Manager Power Poll: Rock Bottom Edition

The writing is on the wall. With Roma mired in 9th place and his contract expiring in June, José Mourinho isn't long for the Eternal City. Here are a few names the club should consider as his replacement.

Football, Italy Cup: SS Lazio vs AS Roma Photo by Elianton/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Along with our annual Top 10 U-23 Countdown, the Future Ex-Roma Manager Power Poll is one of the longest-standing traditions at Chiesa di Totti—in fact, it harkens back to our days on The Offside! Although the title may come off as snarky, the series never meant to wish harm upon Roma's current managers. Instead, it served as an opportunity to explore the most probable candidates who could potentially replace the club's current manager, whether they were in danger of losing their job or simply dissatisfied with the team.

But the very nature of the profession dictates that the next man up will likely only sit on the Giallorossi bench for two to three years; Sir Alex's and Pep Guardiola's don't grow on trees, after all. Besides, the longest-tenured managers tend to work for the wealthiest clubs in the world. It turns out that having an unlimited wellspring of cash begets job security. Who knew?

With time running down on Roma's grand José Mourinho experiment, let's run through several possible successors to the Special One, starting with a sentimental favorite.

The Prodigal Son...Who Isn't Quite Ready to Return: Daniele De Rossi

SPAL v AC Pisa - Italian Serie B Photo by Gabriele Masotti/LiveMedia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

From now to the end of time, whenever there's a vacancy on Roma's bench, expect Daniele De Rossi's name to be quickly linked to the club of his birth. A coach's son, DDR trails only Francesco Totti in the hearts of many Roma fans. Where Totti was touched by the hand of god and blessed with skills few have ever possessed, De Rossi, although a sublimely talented footballer in his own right, became a world-class midfielder through sheer force of will.

Thanks to that yeoman-like approach, De Rossi felt like a second manager on the pitch anyway, barking orders at his teammates and deciphering opponents' tactics in real-time. Rather than immediately jumping into managing a youth team or a lower-tier club, De Rossi learned the tricks of the trade under Roberto Mancini, working with the Italian National team during the Azzurri's triumphant run through Euro 2020... and their less triumphant appearance in the 2002 World Cup Qualification Playoffs.

DDR parlayed that experience into his first club gig last season, managing SPAL in Serie B last fall. Unfortunately, De Rossi fell flat on his face, leading SPAL to a 3-6-8 record before being dismissed last February.

Nevertheless, given his legacy with the club, De Rossi will always be a candidate for the Roma bench, but it would be pretty hard to justify his selection at this point in time. Besides, would you really want to see him dropped into this kettle of fish?

The Obligatory Candidate: Antonio Conte

Together, a Black and White Show Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

There was a time when Conte felt like a reach for Roma, and while that may still be the case, his options outside of Italy have narrowed dramatically. So, unless one of the more coveted jobs near the top of the Serie A table comes open, Conte could be in play for the Giallorossi.

The benefits are obvious: the man knows how to win, especially in Serie A. With four Scudetti on his resumé (not to mention one Premiership title and FA Cup from his Chelsea days), Conte has mastered the league before, so it's not unthinkable to suggest he can do it again.

The drawbacks, however, are just as obvious. Much like Mourinho, Conte is a 3-5-2 pragmatist accustomed to playing with his owner's checkbook, so this may not be the best fit for Conte or the club. It's not hard to imagine Conte hitting the same post-match notes as Mourinho as he bangs his head up against the wall of Roma's financial limitations, but the man is a winner. Full stop.

The Other Obligatory Candidate: Roberto De Zerbi

Stoke City v Brighton and Hove Albion - Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

De Zerbi was a well-traveled midfielder who played for 14 different clubs during his career. After leaving his playing days behind him, he transitioned to a managerial career, continuing his nomadic ways with stops at Foggia, Palermo, and Benevento before making a breakthrough with Sassuolo. De Zerbi managed to keep the Neroverdi in the upper half of the table for three consecutive seasons between 2018 and 2021, leading many to link him with a host of more glamorous gigs.

After a quick stop in Ukraine with Shakhtar, De Zerbi surprised Italian pundits when he eschewed a return to Serie A, instead deciding to test his mettle in the Premiership with Brighton & Hove Albion. Much like he did with Sassuolo, De Zerbi's side is punching above its weight class, finishing last season 7th in the Premier League, above clubs like Aston Villa, Spurs, and Chelsea.

De Zerbi's sides are aggressive and entertaining, but he's got a good thing going in Brighton and may not be too eager to return home. Still, if he does, Roma should pursue him relentlessly.

The Up and Comer: Thiago Motta

Bologna FC v AS Roma - Serie A TIM Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

With three losses and a draw in their last four matches, Motta's Bologna side has fallen back to earth, but he remains one of the more sought-after properties on the managerial market. After a playing career that saw him capture a treble as part of José Mourinho's legendary Inter Milan side, Motta spent the bulk of his career with Paris Saint-Germain, claiming 18 trophies during the nascent days of PSG post-takeover era.

But when it came time to transition to a managerial career, the Brazilian/Italian hybrid returned to Serie A, taking the reins at Genoa in October 2021. While he was summarily dismissed two months later, Motta found a new lease on life with Spezia the following season, helping the Aquilotti avoid relegation following the 2021-2022 season.

From there, Motta moved to Bologna, where he's kept the Rossoblu in the top half of the table, punctuated by the club's surprising start to the season: 6th place after 20 rounds of play and only two points out of the top four.

Whether he leads Bologna to the promised land or not, Motta seems poised to move to a more prominent club soon. Would Roma fit the bill?

The Best (and Most Unlikely) Man for the Job: Xabi Alonso

FC Augsburg v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

The legendary Spanish midfielder, who boasts 16 titles to his credit, including a World Cup and two European Championships, is now arguably the hottest young manager in Europe. After taking over Bayer Leverkusen in early October 2022, when the club was second from bottom, Alonso lifted Leverkusen to sixth place by year's end. And that upward trend has carried over into the new season, where Alonso's crew is perched atop the Bundesliga ladder, holding a four-point lead over mighty Bayern Munich.

It's likely too soon to peg Alonso down as any one kind of manager, but so far in his young career, Alonso has steered toward variants of the three-man backline. If you find yourself shuddering at that thought, fear not: Alonso's teams have proven to be disciplined, dynamic, and well-balanced.

After a brief dalliance with Spurs last summer, Alonso signed a new pact with Leverkusen through 2026, so he may not even be available, but if he is, he'll have his pick of clubs. Still, if he's not quite ready to jump to the PSGs or Real Madrids of the world, turning Roma into a real winner would give him unrivaled street cred.

The Crossover Candidate: Alessandro Spugna

Alessandro Spugna head coach of AS Roma kisses the trophy at... Photo by Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images

While trading the women's team for the men's side would be unprecedented, Spugna's sterling record with the Giallorosse warrants consideration. With his bold, aggressive, and attack-heavy approach, Spugna's football is fast, efficient and nearly flawless. In two-and-a-half seasons on the bench, not only did he lead the club to the first Scudetto in its history and two Champions League births (including a run to the quarterfinals in their first appearance), but Spugna has won an astounding 87% of his league matches during that stretch.

Really, the only thing standing in his way are outdated stereotypes and stigmas about women's football, but this man is undoubtedly an effective manager. Someone is going to give him a chance with a men's team, so why not Roma?

No one knows if or when Mourinho will get the sack, but with the club staring down a third straight midtable finish, the Special One hasn't delivered during this two and a half years at the helm. Change is in the air, so expect this list to grow in the coming days and weeks.

Stay tuned!