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Making Sense of the Spalletti Rumors

Patience, people. Patience.

SS Lazio v AS Roma - TIM Cup Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Don’t say we didn’t warn you. After Roma’s victory-but-still-a-loss versus Lazio in the completely meaningless and pointless Coppa Italia, we warned of a deluge of Spalletti- is-leaving-rumors, and, well, here we are, knee deep in a pile of shitty Spalletti stories. In a series of spurious dominos that rumor mongers would have you believe begins with Antonio Conte reupping with Chelsea, and transitively not signing with Inter Milan, Spalletti would move to Inter, Unai Emery would make the Roma switch, and with Emery off the bench in Paris, Monchi would be free to build the Parisians in his own image.

It’s a complex web of nonsense fueled largely by the insatiable thirst of the 24-hour news cycle, one which seems especially pernicious with all things Roma-related. I’ve written about this cycle for over five years now—swallowing everything from Antonio Cassano returning to Roma stories to the absurd notion last summer that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would team up with Totti—and even this made my eyes roll.

As we mentioned last week, the mere notion that Spalletti would be run out of town because Roma was booted out of a tournament completely devoid of meaning is absurd beyond qualification. I understand if you have a personal grudge with Spalletti, or if you think he’s too rigid with his player selections, but you can’t argue with results—Roma has amassed 114 points since Spalletti took over in January of 2016.

Much as it was with Rudi Garcia’s first season in Rome, the Giallorossi were denied glory only due to Juventus’ historic run. If someone could have Tonya Harding’d Paul Pogba’s knee or if Giorgio Chiellini had some sort of wasting disease, we wouldn’t be in this mess, Roma would have captured at least two titles over the past six years, but whether it’s luck not being on our side or simply not having enough financial wherewithal to compete, a bride’s maid Roma has remained.

So does that mean we should throw out the baby with the bath water? Not if you ask Daniele De Rossi:

Spalletti affected me the most. I started to see football through the eyes of this Coach and it’s a wonderful view. Aside from what I will do and aside from the fact that at times he has a difficult personality to deal with, Roma should do everything to keep him, because he will be the best.

And lest you think this is one of his acolytes merely singing his praises, the proof is right there...he has a difficult personality to deal with. De Rossi, an unquestioned leader of club and country, while admitting Spalletti is a bit, shall we say irascible, readily admits that he is the best choice. Not a solid choice, not a great choice, the best.

As Roma fans keeping perspective is often a herculean task, but this is one instance in which we must preach patience. Last January, Spalletti was handed a roster he didn’t construct and turned it into an unstoppable machine, single handedly resurrecting of Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy, and this summer, working with a director of sport who had one foot out the door, managed to do the same for Federico Fazio and even Juan Jesus.

Spalletti is as talented a manager as you’ll find, to say nothing of what Roma can afford, and to cast him off as spare parts would be a grave mistake. Team him up with Monchi, give him a say in transfers and pair all that with a consistent cash flow and Roma may very well overcome Juventus. Despite the Old Lady’s six point gap, have they really seemed as universally invincible this year as the previous five?

Not really, and in order to close that gap Roma needs a manager with the temerity to sit Francesco Totti, the ingenuity to make stars out of Emerson Palmieri and Federico Fazio and the courage to wear Philipp Plein on the sidelines.

Luciano Spalletti is that man and all he needs is a little patience.