For once we must take positions with, rather than against, the quasi-unanimous verdict of the press and call the game what it was – an utter disgrace. Two penalties in Roman favour disallowed, a highly dubious one conceded to Milan. Enough to drastically compromise the result, and the laconic send-off of Massimo Ambrosini is nowhere near a sufficient alibi. ‘If I speak my mind,’ commented David Pizarro at the end of the match, ‘I’ll get suspended for the next ten years.’ We do not doubt it. The speech running through his mind probably included a week’s worth of personal insults against Roberto Rosetti, the referee, who is gaining notoriety in Rome for his consistency. Prior to Calciopoli, he penalised Roma when playing against Inter (three goals disallowed in less than forty-five minutes in the 2004 match!), after the scandal he did exactly the same thing – refer to the ridiculous sending-off of Philippe Mexes in the return leg against Inter, in the season when Roma were only two points from winning the Scudetto. If three coincidences make a clue, then three clues make proof. Whether it is proof of incompetence or proof of partiality, however, we have no way of telling.
Given some of the statements that have been released by Marcello Lippi, José Mourinho and Diego Armando Maradona in recent times, those of Claudio Ranieri must have left little in the way of an impression. He chose our own words: ‘It is a disgrace, it is all a disgrace.’ And though the statement sounds tame compared to those of the above-mentioned colossi walking through the football scene, it spills a sense of despair that none of them are really in touch with. According to Ranieri, the players were not too cut-up by the result. It is a lie, and he knows it, but what’s most depressing is the excuse – apparently, the players already knew that it was going to end this way. They have been baptised with the bludgeon one too many times, and the terrain made it foreseeable. Milan are, after all, the team who were awarded the greatest number of penalties the last season, more than even Inter. Mostly the victims were small or middle teams, but perhaps this is how Roma are being seen at the moment. They certainly have the same political power (or lack thereof).
As for the rest of the match, Rosetti may deserve credit for Milan’s victory, as the press generally sustains, but Roma are still a long way from the treasure at the end of the rainbow, and this is something which most sources have failed to pick up on. It goes without saying that this defeat is a very hard blow – a victory against Milan would have perhaps represented a significant turning point, giving the team a sense of identity and inner confidence. As it is, what we have is still a collection of fragments which need to be assembled into a team. It will come, but it will be delayed – but how many points will that cost us? The answer is blowing in the wind.
Even though Roma were close to clutching identity and cohesion, they were not close to completing a solid game. One thing that most voices after the match agreed on, whether in or out of the team, is that Roma had trouble finishing. It tends to happen when Francesco Totti is not there but the one-sided refereeing should not shield our eyes from the fact that the performance was not as good as most people would claim. Roma played a strong game in terms of possession and territorial dominance, which is an encouraging sign of the progress that has been made so far, but their forward momentum was disbanded. They only scored one goal, and that was thanks to a defensive blooper by the opposition. Their forwards wasted what chances they had and failed to interact with the wings – a problem which has already been encountered before, although an inevitable one when you field Rodrigo Taddei and Simone Perrotta simultaneously. Roma would be much more united in their minds had they won against Milan, but they would still be quite distant from the potent attack that their roster could potentially liberate.
On the subject of the attack, it was nice to see Jérémy Menez step on the greens again, and the effects are there for everyone to see. A goal and an interesting (albeit somewhat unbalanced) performance. Surely there is space for him to contribute more to this team. Our column criticised Ranieri for his reluctance to utilise youngsters in the team, but the old man has been fixing this recently. The younger players are consistently being given chances, and not just because of injuries. We will have to see how the situation develops. In the meantime – well done Claudio. It is a very bitter moment to be a Romanista, so thanks for giving us a bit of a sweeter pill. It is, after all, the only thing that anyone can give to us. Do you want to know what is worse than the match against Milan? It is the bit that comes after. It is a fistful of interviews saying that Roma are right and that they deserve better, only for everything to go on without any change. It is the sense of our impotence and the resentment of our sound and our fury as they are funnelled away in the wind.
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