Full disclosure, thanks to that thing called the real world, I didn't see a single second of this match. Not one iota. And from what I hear, I'm one of the lucky ones. While my first phone check-in wasn't too disturbing—Aleksandar Kolarov had just scored to cut Fiorentina's two goal lead in half—but as I became engrossed in work, time sort of escaped me. So, needless to say, when I went for a second look I was floored...fucking hell. 7-1!?....again? It's almost like that scoreline is Roma’s version of October 21, 1955—the magical date from Back to The Future responsible for all of Doc and Marty's time traveling shenanigans.
Even without seeing the match, this feels like one of those momentous occasions in which Roma makes a dramatic turn towards...something. We saw it several years ago when they lost the Coppa Italia final to Lazio, using that gut wrenching loss as an impetus for the sweeping changes they made leading up to the 2013-2014 season.
At this stage in the game, it may be too late to sack Eusebio Di Francesco and salvage something meaningful from the season, but even as I write that I paused; they're still only a point a way from fourth place, so EDF supporters can hang their hats on that, but these collapses keep occurring and he seemingly has no solution other than to bemoan their mentality, so a jolt to the system might be in order.
So, with that in mind, our quick whip around the post match press conferences starts with Di Francesco's future.
⚠️ | Roma, Eusebio Di Francesco a rischio dopo il 7-1 rimediato in Coppa Italia contro la Fiorentina! In pole c’è Paulo Sosa per la panchina giallorossa ❌— Sportitalia (@tvdellosport) January 30, 2019
(Via @AlfredoPedulla)#sportitaliamercato pic.twitter.com/E3lRJVgpUQ
Sportitalia kicked things off with the obvious angle: weighing up alternatives to EDF, highlighted by former Fiorentina manager Paulo Sousa, who would be seen as an immediate stop gap solution; call him a quasi-interim manager. Antonio Conte, meanwhile, remains a longer-term (if not longshot) solution, someone who would be granted a bit of leeway while he shapes and molds Roma in his image.
For his part, Di Francesco was adamant he won't walk away.
Any comment I make now would be superfluous...We cannot afford to be embarrassed like that and behave that way during a game. It was a terrible performance in every area.
I want to make my evaluations with a cool head, not in the heat of the moment, because to be honest my mood right now is not the best. I will reflect on the situation and I am sure the club will too. Tonight’s match confirmed some issues that had been only hinted at during the campaign.
However, I can rule out a resignation. That has never been a thought in my mind.
First off, kudos to EDF for using superfluous; I love that word. More to the point, this is about what you'd expect him to say. If his two years at the helm have proven anything it's that he's a man of conviction, so I wouldn't expect him to wilt or to walk away. Di Francesco, despite his recent struggles, is a pretty highly acclaimed young manager, so he has a lot of skin in this game; walking away like this might set him back a few years in his developmental curve, to say nothing of his standing in the game.
EDF then addressed the always nebulous but increasingly ubiquitous concept of Roma's "mentality”
That in the moment of difficulty, we lost our heads. I don’t think my goalkeeper made a save and yet we conceded seven goals. Until now, Roma have had one of the best defences in Serie A. Unfortunately, tactics are worthless when they are not accompanied by other elements.
We had talked about it with a smile in recent weeks, discussing a team that had ‘recovered’ from its ills. But we lose ourselves so easily, it is simply a psychological issue. We can do all the tactical debate we want, but without mentality, it’s pointless.
All we can do is apologise to our fans. I struggle to explain what happened, as it was a game we got wrong in every conceivable way. It was shameful.
But he wasn't the only one handing out apologies...
It’s very tough, perhaps the worst and most painful game of my career as a sporting director...It’s very tough.
It’s a day where, right now, all we can do is apologise to the fans – to those who came here to Florence, and all of those back in Rome. They take the most pride in this club and so I can only say to them sorry, sorry, sorry.
The last five or six games, apart from the second half in Atalanta, we were growing as a group. Today we played terribly. The players wanted to do well but unfortunately they were not able to do that.
We have tried everything [to turn things around]. I think that right now, the players need support – but I don’t think anyone is calm and happy after today.
They tried everything. You know, except making any changes during the winter transfer window.
In the grand scheme of things, losing in the Coppa Italia doesn't mean anything, but when you couple this with their complete meltdown against Atalanta over the weekend, not to mention the numerous other times where the team looked clueless and/or lifeless, those isolated incidents have become a trend, and that trend is in danger of becoming their reality.
Something has to change.