Eight years ago, Roma parted company with a much loved tactician – Luciano Spalletti.
He had been at the helm of the club for four years and in that time he had revolutionised football around the world by inventing the ‘strikerless’ 4-2-3-1 formation. For fans, it was hard to watch him go. We’d had a lot of good times together, including watching the team lift two Coppa Italia trophies, a Super Coppa Italiana, and he gave us the thrill of knocking a phenomenally good Real Madrid side out of the Champions League quarter finals.
But it was time for him to move on, and that was all there was to it. So attention turned to who would replace him. There were two leading names bandied about: The experienced old head of Claudio Ranieri, and a new unheralded upstart who was in charge of Bari at the time – a man by the name of Antonio Conte.
The choice was between the safe option who had guided big clubs before, and the riskier choice – someone who people saw as just as likely to sink the ship as he was to right it.
The choice was made. The Tinkerman very nearly guided Roma to the Scudetto in 2010, with Inter only crowned on the final day of the season.
The safe choice paid off. But what would have happened if we had chosen door number two instead?
Maybe now is the time to find out.
Because a year and a half into his second spell at Roma, after revolutionising football again by pioneering a new version of the 3-4-3 formation, it appears Spalletti has had enough. Dogged by constant pressure and distractions from the Roman press and fans over his handling of and perceived disrespect towards 40 year old Francesco Totti, it seems he’s now set to shuffle off to Internazionale di Milano – the team that was so often our nemesis during his first tenure.
His replacement is said to already be lined up – current Sassuolo manager Eusebio Di Francesco.
We won’t know anything for sure until next week, when the season is over. But, in principle, despite my great love for Spalletti, I would be happy with this trade.
My love for the Tuscan is not unconditional. We resurrected his career after his sacking from Zenit St Petersberg and if, after that, he’s now ditching us because he’s found a cushier number with one of our biggest rivals – well fine. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, Luciano, and don’t bother coming back a third time either.
As for Di Francesco, a lot of fans seem unconvinced by him but I think the naysayers are wrong.
In my opinion we need an Italian coach, or at least someone with extensive Serie A experience. Bringing overseas coaches into Roma doesn’t work. It’s too different from every other environment and noobs from other leagues have no idea what they are getting themselves into. Not even Luis Enrique could make a success of it, and let’s be honest the fact that a world class manager like him got the hell away from us as fast as his legs could carry him at the first available opportunity should tell you something…
Di Francesco is successful. He won Serie B at tiny Sassuolo and then guided them into the Europa League. Sure, he got sacked and re-hired along the way but that character building stuff is important too! You need to be able to dig your way out of big setbacks at Roma. He is a proponent of the attacking brand of football Romanisti have grown used to since his coaching role model Zdeněk Zeman’s first stint at our club. He also won Serie A with Roma as a player under Fabio Capello, so he knows what it takes to succeed in our unique and high pressure environment.
All the boxes = ticked.
This guy is going to be a star manager at a big club one day – you can take that to the bank. The choice is do we want it to be with us, or do we want to watch him do it somewhere else like we did with Conte?
The decision is easy if you ask me. Bring it on.
[P.S. you may be wondering why I am writing about this instead of Totti’s impending retirement. Don’t worry I’ll get to that. It’s all a bit weird at the moment considering the man himself hasn’t actually announced he’s finishing yet. When he does I will have plenty to say.]
Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.