Coach Claudio Ranieri will soon begin to come under excess scrutiny as his welcome mat is stretched to the limit. The former Chelsea and Juventus Coach was not the Giallorossi’s favourite choice to say the least. The results so far under Ranieri’s charge have shown exactly why the Tactician never really endeared himself to the Bianconeri fans. Ranieri’s teams would often follow positive results and impressive performances with sub-par displays and mind-boggling scores against weaker teams.
The trend has not changed much with Roma since Ranieri’s charges followed away and home wins to Siena and Fiorentina with draws against Palermo and Catania. Sandwiched amongst that run was an abysmal 0-2 defeat to Swiss side Basel in the Europa League. A closer look at the outcome and nature of these matches reveals that Ranieri has yet to organise the defence while also struggling to find the best formation and tactics to better suit the characteristics of his players, in particular club talisman Francesco Totti. Originally, Ranieri hinted at switching Totti’s position and his words were met with widespread scrutiny, particularly from former Roma Coach and current England Manager Fabio Capello. That Ranieri’s outspoken remarks about his club captain and the hidden criticism he directed towards the team’s symbol garnered such attention shows the extent of skepticism surrounding Ranieri wherever he goes. The Coach has regularly been labeled as a good individual, however Inter Milan’s Jose Mourinho might have been for once justified in his stinging attacks against the Tactician often referred to as the ‘Tinkerman’. The outspoken and controversial Portuguese Coach has on more than one occasion attacked Ranieri while he was in charge of la Vecchia Signora. Mourinho said that the former Old Lady Coach was a failure since he never won a major trophy (other than cup competitions) despite having taken charge of quality sides such as Fiorentina, Chelsea, Valencia and Juventus.
Currently the Coach is in the unenviable position of having to reinvigorate the side following the dismal start to the season, with the Giallorossi defence in particular causing much of the concern due to obvious frailties. French centre-back Philippe Mexes has had a season to forget so far marred by inconsistency, fatal errors and lack of concentration. The full-backs John Arne Riise and Marco Cassetti have both suffered when retrieving back to defend and recover loose balls. The Norway left-back Riise has retained much of his offensive prowess, be it the thunderous shots and fierce free-kicks or the traditional forays forward along the left flank, yet his defensive weaknesses continue to grow as he ages. On the other side, Cassetti has yet to impress while Marco Motta has been sparingly used, meaning the right-back position has turned into a visible flaw in the side. Ranieri also has to address the lack of midfielders who are capable of winning tackles, retrieving the ball and launching attacks or going forward in the mold of Italy lynchpin and local hero Daniele De Rossi. Indeed, if only Roma had another player in the same caliber as the international midfielder then much of the problems could disappear. De Rossi offers help to the defence, gives impetus to the attack and above all plays with sheer grit and determination, two traits visibly lacking in i Lupi’s squad.
The next few weeks will be quite crucial for the club’s season since the Europa League will feature clashes against CSKA Sofia in Rome and then Fulham away in England. On paper Roma ought to win those two games to compensate for the disappointing loss to Basel, yet when the teams take to the pitch anything can happen with the Eternal City club successfully embodying a prototype of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On the domestic front, the Giallorossi will host Napoli before traveling to Milan two weeks later in two massive clashes against teams in a similar stance – big name players and high expectations met by a miserable start to the season. In fact, some parallels can be drawn with the Partenopei and the Rossoneri despite the obvious differences. All three teams are struggling for results though they have stars such as Slovak Marek Hamsik and Italy’s Andrea Pirlo. The main difference at this stage is that Roma has been the only team to witness a coaching change. Given the circumstances, it will not be a surprise if Napoli and il Diavolo opt for a change on the bench. While Milan seems to lack young, fresh legs, and Napoli is struggling to mesh the talent upfront, i Lupi is suffering from an acute case of inconsistency and over dependence on Totti. Ranieri’s task will only get harder if Roma loses to Napoli and then Milan.
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
Catania is beginning to get on our nerves – September 29, 2009
Ranieri has yet to stabilise i Lupi – October 3, 2009