The tongue slowly becomes less bitter and our speech, correspondingly, becomes less incensed. Milan shred Real Madrid to pieces on Wednesday, proving that they do not need the pathetic crutches offered by Rosetti last Sunday. A renovation of some kind seems indispensable and the aid of technology in assisting referees requires nothing but the will to implement it. Refereeing mistakes are ‘part of the game,’ according to the antagonists of in-match replays. Yes, but why must these mistakes always go in favour of the two or three most powerful teams in the league? Imprecision is acceptable when it is equipoise. Sadly, Italy always seems to be the last stop for innovation, so we cannot expect a hand of justice until it has been tried and tested in England and Spain. We go back to playing against teams and their guardian angels, and the next stop for us is the Stadio Olimpico, facing a team that know very little about divine providence – the endless relegation contenders Livorno.
Livorno are small fish if ever there have been any, and the fact that they have only just changed Coach does not play in their favour. Roma are not a good team to inaugurate a management against. Their new tactician bears the megalomaniacal name of Serse Cosmi, like the Persian emperor against the Spartans but with a cosmological resonation to his surname. That’s just about the only epic attribute to the Livorno team. For the rest, the squad is as parochial as they come. Cosmi sounded very motivated in his interviews – he might as well be, given that he hasn’t coached a football team in the last three years – claiming that he: ‘Makes discounts to no-one.’ Supposedly this means that Roma will not get three goals for the price of two.
Roma are expected to win. No, that may be an understatement – Roma have made a covenant with the Eternal Powers to bring home three points. They are playing at home against one of the worst teams in Italy, at a time when the latter are first testing out a new Coach, one who has been out of football so long that he was struggling to get back into it (Cosmi recently thanked the Livorno president for ‘taking him out’ of that situation). Roma are the favourites by a few million miles. At this stage, the only way that they can lose the match is if they choose to lose it
This possibility is not as remote as it may sound. Roma have a knack for messing up against the smaller teams. Their 3-0 defeat to Siena two years ago is still difficult to forget. How could Roma mess up this time? For one thing, by being overconfident. The defence, in particular, must be careful that Francesco Tavano (if he is fielded) and Cristiano Lucarelli are not given too much space. They are hardly two lions, but they do have some passable finishing power. Also there is the T factor. Roma have been incapable of performing without Francesco Totti for as long as we can remember, and on the weekend il Capitano will not be there. We have some confidence that they can do it anyway. Our opinion is that Claudio Ranieri has been doing a very impressive job so far, considering the state of the team and the moment at which he picked them up. The discrete (discrete, not good) game which he showed against Milan suggests that he is taking steps towards resolving the overdependence on the captain. The team played without Totti, and they stood their ground. If they did it away against Milan, they can do it at home against Livorno.
Other thoughts of the week – Stefano Guberti, long expected and long delayed, is finally being given his opportunities by Ranieri. The same is true of Jérémy Menez. Both players have looked impressive and dynamic, though the Italian seems already more accustomed to Serie A, and he plays in a spot where he is more urgently needed. One good consequence of this policy is that all of the players are kept fit and ready. This lends impressive flexibility to a team that has often been criticised for relying too much and too often on its familiar faces. It allows for numerous tactical solutions and it teaches different players how to rely on each other at different times. Just as importantly, Ranieri is proving that everybody has a chance to play, which gives the men tremendous motivation to impress. Roma have had a challenging first half of the season in terms of teams encountered, but there are three matches to go before Inter, and it’s mostly downhill after that (seven games, only two of which are actually competitive – those against Lazio and Sampdoria). If the Giallorossi continue to grow at this rate, and given that they will be done with the darling teams of the referees by week twelve, we could witness a real surge before the return half of the season begins. We wouldn’t be surprised to see them snatch a fourth place.
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
A solid win at a heavy price? – October 6, 2009
Rumours as IFFHS ranks the Giallorossi as best in Italy – October 9, 2009
The strange attractor of two inherently chaotic teams – October 16, 2009
The sound and the fury – October 20, 2009
The importance of being Francesco – October 23, 2009