Roma and ultimatums go hand in hand, don’t they? There’s just something about this club, if it’s not operating in extremes, it just feels wrong. It’s terrible for the well being of the club, to say nothing of those of us along for the ride, but there is no ambivalence when it comes to AS Roma; you either ride or die. Hey, if it worked for DMX and the Ruff Ryder Crew, who are we to argue?
The latest all or nothing edict reportedly issued by the Roma brass was the rumored two match put-up-or-shut-up order issued to Eusebio Di Francesco. Following a rough start to the season, one in which Roma won only one of their first eight matches (all comps), things levelled out a bit for EDF and the Giallorossi. After some tactical tweaks, Roma found a bit of a hot streak, winning five of six matches through the end of September and early October. Things were looking good.
However, that success wasn’t long lived. After defeating Empoli on October 6th, Roma dropped points to SPAL 2013, Napoli, Fiorentina and Udinese. This spell, one which dropped Roma well out of the European qualification spots, reportedly drew the ire of James Pallotta, leading to that rumored ultimatum.
With a 2-0 blanking at the hands of Real Madrid last week and yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Inter Milan, it began to look like EDF’s fate had been sealed. Given all that transpired this season, many expected to see a wave of Di Francesco Sacked headlines to lead off the workweek.
Not so fast.
According to the Corriere dello Sport (via Football Italia), not only is EDF not being fired, his job was never really in danger to begin with.
Eusebio’s position has always been safe. The responsibility for our results of this season isn’t his. It depends on the players to express themselves in accordance with their potential.
Di Francesco can do his job well, but he doesn’t go out on the field.
You know me, you know I’ll jump at any opportunity to criticize Pallotta, but I can’t really find fault with that statement. He’s done nearly everything correct this season. When the results were tanking, he made a critical switch to the 4-2-3-1, which produced immediate results, and when players got injured, he didn’t hesitate to turn to the youngest members of the squad to fill the gaps.
Considering all that, the amount of blame EDF shoulders really depends on how one views the role of the coach—should his feet be held to the fire based on results and results alone, or is there some measure of gray area to cover poor individual performances? In other words, is there room for excuses or does the buck stop with the manager full stop?
It’s an important question to ask, and based on Pallotta’s comments, we can guess which way he leans.
So, unless this was the dreaded “vote of confidence” so many managers receive before being sacked, we can safely assume EDF will finish out the season, and really, outside of Antonio Conte, I’m not sure there are many better options available.
But, make no mistake, if Roma miss out on the Champions League next season, Pallotta’s words may not be so kind.