Straight from the dark heart of Italy
No team has ever won the Champions League and been relegated. But there's always a first time, and the way things are going for AS Roma at the moment, anything could happen.
The side that turned up on Tuesday and left hot favourites Chelsea feeling blue was certainly not the one that has been shuffling around most weekends. Don’t be surprised if the strange case of Serie A’s Jekyll and Hyde gets another airing when the Romans travel to Bologna on Saturday. The split personality has long tested the greatest of minds but how much longer can Luciano Spalletti and his team live this double life?
The whispers on the wind blowing around a damp Eternal City in the build-up to the Chelsea game said that the coach would step down after rolling over to the might of the English Premiership. Club legend Bruno Conti would then have stepped in as a stop-gap, just as he did the last time the club were in this sort of trouble, back in 2004.
In another surreal twist, former coach Carlo Mazzone, who at 71 certainly has the experience, would have added his weight to the cause in some sort of sage-like behind-the-scenes capacity.
Thankfully it didn't come to pass, or we could have been faced with a real horror show on our hands.
The Italian press were on their usual turnaround from despair to unbridled joy on Wednesday morning. “Magical Roma" and "Imperial Roma” were some of the less-than-restrained headlines. “Roma teach Chelsea a football lesson,” crowed La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Meanwhile down in Cyprus, Jose Mourinho was on the road with his new comedy act: the Inter line-up. The Portuguese played four up front for the second time in four days when the Nerazzurri took on Anorthosis Famagusta. He had got away with it at Reggina, when his side snatched a last-gasp 3-2 win, and once again against the Cypriots, this time grabbing a 3-3 draw.
Well, it’s certainly entertaining, if somewhat conflicting with Mourinho’s pragmatic nature when it comes to protecting results. Is there a secret life luring in there to be the stand-up comedian of team selections?
Nicolas Burdisso, who caused his goalkeeper Julio Cesar more problems than any of the home strikers, was the brunt of the jokes flying around in the post-game press conference.
“It’s not even Christmas and we are already giving away gifts,” deadpanned the Special One as he ran through his new act for the Italian media. “It wasn’t the tactics, it was the individuals who cost us victory.”
Well, as they say at the Comedy Store, you’ve got to work your material.
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