With three league games in the space of just over a week, these have got to be busy days in Rome. It does not strike one as the kind of thing that an old man like Claudio Ranieri should be asked to handle, but perhaps his experience will compensate. There is much to do and little time to think. For us, this translates into much to discuss and little space to do so.
Let us begin from the match against Palermo. Roma drew, and that should be deemed enough. Seven points in the first three games is more than this writer was expecting from Ranieri, especially if we consider that two of these fixtures were quite insidious. The last one in particular was always going to be tough, regardless of the Scottish weather conditions, and Palermo confirmed their status as a team that will cause trouble to several big dogs when playing in Sicily. Walter Zenga is a very promising Coach, perhaps the most flexible and intriguing in Italy at the moment alongside Gian Piero Gasperini. It would be nice to see him at the helm of Roma a couple of years from now.
In the meantime we have Claudio Ranieri and a team that still resists being tamed by the bookmakers. Roma, right now, are simply unpredictable. Considering the focus on a defensive game displayed so far by Ranieri, we could have expected anything from this game but three goals conceded. The defence seemed distracted all too often and the team as a whole was slack. Hopefully this will be fixed by the next game, so there is no need to set off onto Lear-style rants for now. It would be helpful, in the meantime, if Ranieri got over his policy on old-age pensions and sent Marco Motta onto the pitch instead of the goof that is Marco Cassetti (terrible work on the first goal by Palermo). We knew about Ranieri’s aversion to youth long before he was destined as Coach of this team, but his policy is depressing to witness nonetheless. Marco Motta, Stefano Guberti, Alessio Cerci, Jérémy Menez, Marco Andreolli – where are they? Forsaken like a memory lost, as John Clare would have put it, rising and vanishing in oblivious host.
On a brighter note, Ranieri did leave Simone Perrotta on the bench this time around, favouring Matteo Brighi. The decision was a happy one – not only did Brighi perform all of his alter ego’s tasks better and more efficiently, he also managed what Perrotta would never have done – he finalised Francesco Totti’s brilliant back-heel in a goal which displayed all that is good with Roma. It was revved up by the heart of Daniele De Rossi, it was lubricated with the class of Totti, and it was closed by the concreteness of Brighi. If the shot had been taken by Perrotta, the ball would probably be orbiting somewhere between Cassiopeia and the Great Bear at this moment. It was also good to see Stefano Okaka coming in, but his entry was – not for the first time – belated. If the kid earned Roma a penalty with five minutes of playing time, what could he have done with twenty?
The next game is again in Sicily, this time against a team that is markedly less threatening (and, hopefully, in weather which will not force the referee to go around in a dinghy). Still, Catania is not a team that should be underestimated, especially when they are playing at home. The 3-0 that they inflicted upon the Giallorossi last season is still ringing in the ears of several fans. They are not particularly strong in the defensive sector and their goalkeeper occasionally suffers from narcolepsy, so it should be enough to walk into the game with a solid defensive frame to ensure a result. As long as the Roma net is guarded, we can rely on the front men to score a goal or two. Totti has been doing very well these days – three goals and two assists in two games – so much will be expected of him. As for the rest of the team, making a prediction on how they will play is impossible. We have been saying this for several weeks now, so readers may lose patience with our reluctance to make conclusive statements, but this is the only professional thing to do at the moment. It takes a solid 10 games in the league for accurate and reliable patterns to emerge in the game of a Coach, and until these are past, no-one can provide an informed reading of Roma’s future. Few could have predicted the stellar performance against Fiorentina, few would have imagined the defensive cracks against Palermo, and no-one as of yet can say what the game against Catania will be like. Things will not stay this way forever, and when the dust settles down, the face of the Roman bride will be unveiled. But for now, we do not work by the book and we do not play by the script. For now we are the children of chaos.
Roma Club Focus 2009/10
The senate is adjourned – August 25, 2009
Houston, we have a problem – August 28, 2009
The time of Penelope – September 1, 2009
Good move, bad timing – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Break means homework time for Ranieri – September 7, 2009
A win that means more than three points – September 15, 2009
Ranieri chases team spirit – September 18, 2009
Champagne! – September 22, 2009
Children of Chaos – September 25, 2009