2008/09 – An indifferent start to the campaign saw Luciano Spalletti’s side slip to second bottom after the first four weeks. But a renaissance was triggered by a wonderful victory at the Stadio Olimpico against Chelsea in the Champions League. A win over city rivals Lazio in October put the Giallorossi into the top six but then defeat to Arsenal at the resumption of European competition in the new year, seemed to deflate the squad who limped through the remainder of the domestic season to finish sixth. I Lupi would have to settle for Europa League football next term.
2009/10 – Another summer of takeover talk has dominated the teams build up to the new campaign. Spalletti remains at the helm after being linked with both Juventus and Chelsea. The sale of Alberto Aquilani to Liverpool has brought much needed cash injection into the club who have been linked with several big name strikers. It seems however, that the club’s fervent support will have to accept a season that at best may bring silverware in the form of the Europa League.
Transfer Campaign – Aquilani’s departure had been expected before the end of last season and the offer on the table from Liverpool was too good to turn down. The squad has been strengthened with the acquisition of Stefano Guberti from Bari, an attacking midfielder. Otherwise it is pretty much as you were with the capital giants. Spalletti has also refuted offers for his other prized assets Mirko Vučinić and Daniele De Rossi, but with a few weeks of the transfer window to go, the Tactician may still be able to add to his squad.
Stefano Guberti – Bari – free transfer
Marco Motta – Udinese – £3m
Alessio Cerci – Atalanta – end of loan
Marco Andreolli – Sassuolo – end of loan
Stefano Okaka Chuka – Brescia – end of loan
Mauro Esposito – Chievo – end of loan
Valerio Virga – Novara – end of loan
Ahmed Apimah Barusso – Siena – end of loan
Edgar Alvarez – Bari – £1.2m
Simone Loria – Torino – free transfer
Souleymane Diamoutene – Lecce – end of loan
Filipe Gomes Ribeiro – Siena – free transfer
Vincenzo Montella – retired
Alberto Aquilani – Liverpool – £17m
First XI – Daniele De Rossi and David Pizarro will play the anchor roles in midfield in a 4-2-3-1. Again the side will play with no outright centre forward but will have with Francesco Totti as the main point in attack with three supporting players behind him. Having already received compliments on his courageous style of play, it seems Spalletti will again take a huge gamble to get results, and entertainment is guaranteed. The Giallorossi will be one of the most attractive sides on view in this season’s Serie A.
13 Motta ¬- 4 Juan – 5 Mexès – 17 Riise
7 Pizarro – 16 De Rossi
11 Taddei – 9 Vučinić – 93 Menez
The Coach – Luciano Spalletti has performed miracles with the Giallorossi since taking the hot seat in 2005. Working within tight financial constraints he has consistently qualified for the Champions League and brought two Coppa Italia’s and one Super Cup back to the capital. His ambitious style of play has been revered around the football fraternity. The fear for all Roma fans is how long the classy Tactician will be able to resist the temptation to manage one of Italy’s or Europe’s powers.
Reliable player – Daniele De Rossi epitomises everything that is great about midfield play. The pride he shows in playing for his home town club oozes out of every bone in his body. A true warrior, De Rossi drives the team forward and is the first name on Spalletti’s team sheet every week. From supporting his beloved club on the Curva Sud to conducting his orchestra on the pitch, De Rossi is set to become one of Roma’s all time greats.
Creative force – For Roma there is one name that stands out above all others – Francesco Totti. About to start his 17th campaign with the i Lupi, Totti is still the idol of the tifosi. When Totti plays, Roma plays and when the great man is injured, the team loses its leader, talisman and driving force. Spalletti is well aware of the need to keep Totti fit and healthy, his link up play with Vučinić is crucial to the side. It is always said that no player is bigger than the club, with Francesco Totti that phrase becomes redundant.
Youth prospect – Alessio Cerci has been with Roma since 2004 where he was an integral part of the Giallorossi’s youth academy. During the past two seasons he has been loaned to a variety of clubs, most recently Atalanta. Cerci has returned to the capital this summer where this season he could well add to his four appearances for the first-team. An attacking right sided midfielder, Cerci will fit perfectly into Spalletti’s formation where he could certainly challenge Rodrigo Taddei for a starting place should the Brazilian suffer a drop in form.
Fixture list – After a tricky opening day trip to Genoa, Week 2 brings an equally mouth watering home game against Juventus. Trips to Sicily to play Palermo and Catania and a home fixture against Fiorentina make the first month of the campaign incredibly tough for Spalletti’s men. The first derby takes place in December, with the return in April. That opening month could set the tone for the whole season for Roma. If the team gets off to a good start then the confidence will be flowing, however, if by the end of September the team is languishing in the lower reaches, its notoriously impatient supporters will be asking serious questions about their clubs lack of activity in the transfer market.
Home grown players – Out of the current squad of 30 players, 50% of the playing staff is home grown. The tifosi love to identify with young starlets that are taken from the Primavera squad and placed into the first team, obvious examples being Totti and De Rossi, both born in the capital. Spalletti has a keen eye for talent produced in the peninsula, the summer signing of Stefano Guberti best demonstrates this. Unlike a lot of clubs in the top flight of Italian football, Roma has an ever expanding portfolio of good quality youth players and is not afraid to propel them into the limelight at the earliest opportunity.
Predictions – The only thing predictable with Roma is its unpredictability. Confidence is everything at the top level and a good start to the season is imperative for Spalletti. Having already had a good start to their Europa League campaign with a 7-1 demolition of Belgium side Gent, the coach will hope his side will hit the ground running form the curtain raiser on August 23. The squad looks rather thin in places however and injuries could take their toll over the nine month campaign. Realistically the Giallorossi could consolidate the sixth place it achieved last season, but this will not satisfy its supporters as they prepare for their annual rollercoaster ride. Prediction – 6th.