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Form follows function

RG

Form is a mysterious thing sometimes. You’re either in it or you’re not, and how you get in or out of it is often a mystery to most people, myself included.

At some point during season 2014/15, Roma went into a funk and have not as yet emerged. After having been in fine form for well over a year to 18 months, all of a sudden we don’t look very convincing at all. This mysterious drop in form might be a mystery to some, but I have my theories which are admittedly hardly rocket science…

The setting in of the rot seems to have coincided, perhaps unsurprisingly, with a little something that took place on October 21 – the Bayern Munich debacle. We haven’t really had a good game since, even though we have still been clocking up points in Serie A at least. The stark reality is that several of our wins subsequent to that 7-1 hiding have been very much of the ugly variety. Perhaps that fateful night, coupled with the unjust way we lost to Juventus 16 days earlier, have cumulatively taken their toll on our collective mental health…

But tempting as it might be to solely put it down to the scars of those traumatic events, maybe it’s also worth exploring some things a bit more within the club’s control rather than the fickleness of a couple of bad results that we couldn’t really have done much to avoid (corrupt refereeing in one instance and being quite simply blown off the park by a better side in the other). An exploration of the underlying issues might yield more of a realistic solution than the “just snap out of it damn you!” sentiments which I have tried yelling at the team during games, inexplicably without much success…

From where I’m sitting, one of the possible more tangible causes is the unsettled nature of our defence. Defence was such a strong point for us last season when we had a settled back four led by Mehdi Benatia. On top of Benatia’s sale a raft of injuries have meant our first choice back four has been nowhere to be seen for quite some time – September 14 vs Empoli to be precise. That was the last time I can find when our back four was Maicon, Castan, Manolas and Cole, and it has been musical chairs back there ever since with Yanga-Mbiwa, Astori, Torosidis, Cholevas and, I wish I was joking, Florenzi all stuffing their fingers in the dyke at various times. This may well be playing on the confidence of the rest of the team. It’s certainly playing on mine. Not really trusting your defence every time you lose possession is not a nice feeling for a spectator – I am sure it must be several orders of magnitude worse for the players.

The other issue is I wonder if we have underestimated the rigors of so much mid-week football. Call me a clucky mother, but they all look so tired… Have we been prioritising properly? Do we now need to more seriously prioritise the league – given it’s the only big thing we have a realistic shot at? Of course, this issue may be taken care of for us soon enough… Although coming third in our Champions League group still means we make the Europa League – sue me, but I think I’d rather come fourth.

Fortunately, despite all this doom and gloom we have still managed to do just enough to stay in contention for three trophies – Serie A (only three points down), the Coppa Italia and the Champions League (can still progress with a win over Manchester City – no, really…). So it’s not too late to change something and salvage our season. But the time really is now. We have been lucky thus far in that other results have helped our cause. This will not continue, that’s for absolute certain.

Now if only we knew what to change and how. All I can say is January can’t come fast enough…

Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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