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How Should We Measure De Rossi’s Success as a Manager This Season?

Daniele De Rossi hasn't managed his first match yet, but with many questioning the appointment already, it's fair to ask: What would a successful season look like for our dear DDR?

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

The ink is barely dry on Daniele De Rossi's five-month contract as Roma's manager, but the vultures are already circling. DDR hasn't managed his first match yet, but everywhere you look, people are voicing the same concerns: He's too young and inexperienced to succeed as an interim manager. If Mourinho couldn't win with this team, how can De Rossi? His legacy is too precious to risk. One bad result and the fans will eat him alive!

While those questions will find answers in due time, it hasn't stopped the press from linking the usual suspects (Antonio Conte, Stefano Pioli, Thiago Motta) to the Roma bench next fall. Those managers would bring their own style and merit to the job and could very well be the right man for the gig, but why is De Rossi being written off already?

As we've mentioned many times in these spaces, De Rossi occupies his own unique sphere in the Romaverse. His status as a club icon is second only to Francesco Totti, but given his style of play, De Rossi always felt more relatable, workmanlike, and more like your average Roman in the stands.

Because of that, it's hard not to be romantic about De Rossi's prospects as the Giallorossi's next manager. However, if we remove our rose-tinted glasses and stare reality in the face, De Rossi is facing a monumental challenge here. The squad is ill-formed, fatigued, and lacking depth; they have zero money to improve the squad, and all the while, the injury bogeyman is lurking in the background. Hell, it's a situation that tanked one of the most acclaimed managers of the 21st century, so it's only fitting to question De Rossi's ability to turn this around.

But all of this got me thinking: How should we measure De Rossi's success as a manager over the next five months? What's the barometer here? What can he do to warrant consideration next fall?

As far as I can tell, there are three possible outcomes for Daniele De Rossi, interim manager, to be considered successful. One could result in a handshake, a clap on the back, and a quick farewell; one would give the Friedkins an exciting dilemma come July 1st, while the last could see De Rossi emerge as a viable candidate for the full-time position, if not a star manager in the making.

Path #1: Keep the Ship Afloat

Under this scenario, De Rossi more or less continues where Mourinho left off, serving up a mixture of inspiring performances, hard-fought draws, and matches where you're left thinking, "What the hell was that?" It's not ideal, nor would it be enjoyable, but it essentially means that De Rossi would have left Roma no worse for the wear,

So, what exactly would this look like?

Using Mourinho's 20 matches as a guidepost, De Rossi would simply need to average the same 1.45 points per match to maintain the status quo. Based on that success rate, Roma would earn 26 additional points on the table, bringing their final tally to 55 points. Last season, that would have been good enough for ninth place and would leave Roma eight points behind last season's pace.

This wouldn't be an exciting outcome, but Roma can still say they finished in the top half of the table. De Rossi would likely be thanked for his time and walk away a wiser and more experienced manager while likely garnering a job offer or two from smaller clubs.

Path #2: Remain in the Europa League Hunt

This path is two-fold, as it covers Roma's current Europa League lifeline and qualification for next season's competition via the league route. We're not suggesting that De Rossi will lead Roma to Europa League glory. But under this scenario, he inspires the club just enough to push past Feyenoord and into the quarterfinals, but no further.

In the league, De Rossi would improve slightly over Mourinho's 1.45 points per match pace, keeping Roma in the 6th to 8th place range until the season's final weeks. Using last year's results as a measuring stick, they would need at least 63 points to secure a Europa League spot, meaning De Rossi would need to average approximately 1.89 points per match, a 30% improvement over Mourinho's pace.

If this comes to pass, the Friedkins would have a difficult decision. Yeah, it's not the Champions League, but a 30% improvement is substantial and certainly enough for De Rossi to warrant consideration as the club's full-time manager.

Path #3: Qualification for the Champions League

You don't need me to explain this one. In this scenario, De Rossi manages in five months what Mourinho couldn't the previous two seasons: qualification for the Champions League via league finish.

Last year's 4th-place squad, AC Milan, qualified for the big dance with 70 points, so we'll use that as our benchmark. To reach or exceed that total, De Rossi would need to average 2.27 points per match, a whopping 56% increase over their current rate.

To be certain, this is an extremely optimistic scenario. For this to happen, De Rossi not only needs to show a level of ingenuity and man-management skills that belies his experience, but the club would need a stroke of good luck: no dodgy officiating, no acts of god, and no injuries... well, let's be real and say fewer injuries. Either way, everything would have to fall in Roma's favor—there is no margin for error on this path.

If De Rossi can do the unthinkable and end Roma's five-year Champions League drought, one would imagine the Contes, Mottas, and Piolis of the world would fall by the wayside; De Rossi would have earned the job, no questions asked.

Of course, these aren't the only possible outcomes. Now, it's your turn. What do you think De Rossi needs to do to be considered successful?