[This piece was originally published over at Roma Journal, a fan site that will be picking up all my AS Roma related material from now on]
I thought long and hard before deciding to write about the Roma coaching situation – yet again. Before beginning the task, the first question it was necessary to ask myself was “do I have anything new and useful to add?” Arguments have been raging since the day Zeman’s appointment was first mooted and there is so much out there both pro and con the Czech tactician that, if printed out on A4 paper and placed end to end, the vast expanse of writing on the subject would fill the void between an average Laziale’s ears. To be perfectly honest, much of it has been infuriating the crap out of me, yet now that the decision has been made to send Zeman on his way, this can’t be ignored and any serious Roma blogger should have something to say about it.
I shall never the less refrain from making any comment or venturing any opinion what so ever one way or the other about the sacking itself. Yes – it’s the most monumentally stupid decision the club has ever taken. But what’s done is done and my lips are sealed. This post will instead be future focussed.
We currently have an interim manager in a caretaker role until the end of the season. I doubt anyone realistically expects Aurelio Andreazzoli to be a long term option though. So attention inevitably turns to who the next sucker will be. One of the more common catch-cries amongst the fans at the moment seems to be a plea for someone ‘normal’. A safe pair of hands. Both Zeman and Enrique before him, so the reasoning goes, were perceived as risks and the last thing we want is another flight of fancy. After 4 coaches in 3 years, the next guy has to be a ‘sure thing’. A proven Serie A performer.
But what does a normal football manager look like? A Ranieri or Capello type whose teams only play two formations – 4-4-2 and 4-4-2 with a diamond? Or someone who simply follows the trends and never innovates – a clone. How do you find a manager who is risk free? Does such a beast exist?
Some seem to define ‘normal’ as jumping from Zemanlandia 2.0 to Spalletti 2.0. Perhaps forgetting how much of an accident Spalletti’s celebrated 4-2-3-1 system was. A product of the necessity of the squad we had at our disposal at that time, we played a strikerless formation because we literally had no strikers. We now have a completely different squad that boasts more strikers than a snake pit. It was great when it was fresh and new but now more teams use similar systems than Silvio Berlusconi has had botox injections.
The other teams all worked us out, which is why Spalletti eventually had to move on – call me a heathen if you like but he was a one trick pony. Nostalgia is fine but we can’t be governed by it. 4-2-3-1 could well be just as much use in qualifying for the Champions League as a Sopwith Camel over Libya or it may be the second coming of Elvis. Nobody knows. My point is there are no sure things in football.
Zeman was appointed having just won promotion to Serie A with Pescara – arguably a proven winner with an abundance of Serie A experience and his tactics worked fine on the Adriatic coast. Enrique had been chief apprentice to one of the best coaches of our time – at one of the most successful football clubs of our time. What more can you ask for? Despite, throughout most of our history, being resourced to a level that almost all other clubs would kill for, Roma has only won the league 3 times in the best part of 90 years. At what point do we think that maybe, just maybe, the coach not being good enough is no longer a valid excuse?
One of the most disheartening things about the whole situation is the disharmony it has created amongst Roma fans. The camps are pretty entrenched and it’s not helping. The mood of the fan base is part of the culture of the club and so that makes us either part of the problem or part of the solution. If we are going to move forward as a club that we are all a part of, it’s time for all the fan against fan nonsense to end. In order to be part of the solution we need to put all this behind us and move on united behind the club and the management. So I want to make a pledge.
I don’t want to be in a ‘camp’ anymore. I want Roma fans to come together and give whoever becomes our next manager a fair shake. I wanted Zeman to stay but unlike those who never wanted him to begin with, that doesn’t mean I have to be anti whoever replaces him. I hope whoever we get is judged fairly and objectively by everyone. Whoever takes us forward will have my unconditional support and I hope that of all true Romanisti as well.