Straight from the dark heart of Italy
“I don’t know what else to do.” So lamented the forlorn figure of Luciano Spalletti after witnessing AS Roma capitulate at Juventus on Saturday.
His voice was as dull as the inclement weather currently sweeping the peninsula and it’s plain to see that the former once rising star of the coaching scene, who only this summer had been linked with Chelsea, has taken the Romans has far as he can.
Spalletti will be looking longingly at the Blues’ bench on Tuesday evening, when his fate will probably sealed in front of his own fans if his side cannot gain a positive result against the English in the Champions League.
What the club needs is a Harry Redknapp-type figure to inject a bit of enthusiasm into what is a talented side lacking anything in the way of mental strength. Having held their own for a good 40 minutes in Turin – creating chances and generally looking a more solid side – all it took was a piece of Alessandro del Piero magic and the visitors visibly crumpled.
Goodness knows what Spalletti said at half-time, because at least three or four of players obviously had something else on their minds when Juve cut through their defence to make it 2-0 two minutes after the break. But then, why should players bother looking to the bench when the coach spends most of the time staring at the ground?
The over-reliance on Francesco Totti has finally come home to roost and the three new signings have failed to gel. By all accounts, Spalletti was less than enthusiastic about the arrival of John Arne Riise and Julio Baptista while Jeremy Menez was a last-minute punt after it became clear that Florent Malouda was not going to leave Chelsea. All three could yet prosper, but it’s going to take a new man and a different approach to achieve it.
So, who out there can the Romans spirit to the capital post-haste? Roberto Mancini? Highly unlikely, as the wounds from his Inter dismissal are still fresh, plus there’s only room for one sheriff in Rome. Walter Zenga would be a perfect candidate: straight-talking, a man who can administer a good tongue-lashing or an arm around the shoulder, depending on the circumstances.
They could head back to Spalletti’s old employer Udinese for Pasquale Marino, whose joyous attacking approach is turning the Bianconeri into the new Roma. The problem is that the capital club are no longer in a position to bully the “provinces” into giving up their best talent – not since president Franco Sensi passed away and his sweet-natured but totally ineffectual daughter Rosella took over.
Don’t be surprised if they look abroad and turn to former Juventus coach Didier Deschamps. The former France captain did a fine job in taking Juve back to Serie A before being discarded by the club suits. Frank Rijkaard may also come in to the mix; having taken Barcelona to the pinnacle of the European game, revitalising Roma would certainly match his ambition.
Come Tuesday evening, we may well have a clearer idea.
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