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Stuart Harper On March - 25 - 2011

Sette Sempre Unica: Stalled Progress For AS Roma

With a temporary hiatus created by the international break, here at Serie A Weekly we grasp this opportune moment to reflect on Roma’s overall picture – considering the humdrum of league action along with the grander and seemingly complicated scheme of things

Since Genoa bounced back off the ropes to land Claudio Ranieri a fatal blow, the giallorossi are unbeaten in the league, an admirable achievement considering three of rookie coach Montella’s five league ties have taken place away from Rome.

So, is this a revival attributed solely to beginners luck, maybe the expected honeymoon period, or indeed managerial promise? On the strength of Sunday’s draw with Fiorentina, it could be a little of the latter.

At half-time and trailing 2-1, Roma looked ill at ease and decidedly second best to Sinisa’s resurgent outfit. The second period however gave credence to the much used cliché of football being a game of two halves – a half Roma dominated and won, to share the full-time spoils with la viola.

Was the turnaround a Montella masterstroke? Ostensibly, little altered on the field of play and despite needing a much desired third goal and thus victory, Marco Boriello sat out his second consecutive game while l’aeroplanino kept faith with Totti as his ‘force majeure’.

Evidently, the diminutive coach knows his own mind and was willing to shun the former rossoneri hit-man, a steely determination that paid dividends with capitano breaking through the mystical 200 career goal threshold in fine fashion.  So whatever Montella said at the interval worked, and for now, on form alone, Vincenzo’s endeavour is sure to appear upon Thomas Di Benedetto’s radar – maybe an early marker for the position of permanent coach?

Returning to a revitalised Totti, the first of his Tuscan brace came from a dead ball, in this instance the penalty spot – a phenomena which has seemed to proliferate his season so far. However, over the last few games, particularly against Lazio, pupone has showed glimpses of his majestic midfield best and on a breezy Florence afternoon, viewers were treated to a vintage Francesco Totti performance.

Animated and energetic throughout, deft touches and intuitive passes punctuated Totti’s play. A constant threat, one could see why Montella would persist with his talismanic leader in such rude form - and Roma’s reward? A sumptuous second goal of seamless control and pure power for Totti’s 201st Serie A strike - tangible evidence of a renaissance gathering momentum and raising the question; is the Totti’s revival somehow intrinsically linked to Montella’s appointment?

Before we get too carried away however, every silver lining has a cloud and interfering with Montella’s flight path is the storm brewing over Jeremy Menez. The French maestro has voiced his displeasure towards Montella and with fans at trigoria urging Menez to leave; we can add Menez to a list including Mexes and now Daniele De Rossi as likely deserters.

Yes, you read correctly, ‘DDR’ – if media speculation is to be believed. The native Roman who is destined to be Roma’s next capitano, is reputedly considering a move away from ‘home’ in a bid to exercise the ghosts that have haunted his private life. Media reports suggest De Rossi is weighing up a move to either the Bernabeau or Old Trafford – with Manchester United known to be both keen and needing a player of DDR’s ilk.

Fact or fiction, if anything, all of this suggests that the impending new ownership can’t come soon enough. Roma is increasingly desperate for Di Benedetto to grasp the tiller and start steering Roma in a discernable direction. Although the deal is rumoured to be just days from being completed, the present situation encourages uncertainty and it is imperative that key personnel are spoken to before it’s too late and heads are irrevocably turned.

Being fair, Montella the rookie tactician has enough on his plate to keep Roma in pursuit of fourth. Placating players with a genuine reason for wanting to leave is one thing, but playing games with agents trying to deploy an early salvo on the new regime is another. So whatever the motives are of the media and/or key players, the net result is unsettling and thus serves to complicate Roma’s immediate future. Fingers-crossed, the buyout is completed post haste and players and agents are pacified enough to keep all eyes on the prize.

Speaking of which, the prize of a fourth place finish remains with Roma’s remit and adds increased impetus on the peripheral stuff being either resolved or postponed. With Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico followed by a trip to fourth place Udinese, it’s very much ‘do or die’ for i lupi. Two critical fixtures on which Roma’s immediate future could hinge so surely a time for solidarity? As we are dealing with Rome and Roma don’t count on it, but two victories will change the entire complexion of this campaign.

With the break from league action and DDR omitted from international duties, now is an ideal time for the troubled waters to be calmed. If reports are to believed the buyout will be complete long before the bianconeri visit the eternal city and just maybe, the trident of Daniele, Philippe and Jeremy can return with a vigour to rival Francesco Totti’s, who for once is leading by example.

Ultimately, with Roma in a transitory phase it’s unsurprising that the press, unscrupulous agents and dissatisfied players are causing unrest. Let us just hope that Thomas Di Benedetto acts swiftly and decisively so to capitalise on all that is currently good about a Roma unbeaten under Montella.

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