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Stuart Harper On April - 28 - 2011

Sette Sempre Unica: Roma Say Grazie A Tutti!

For Roma fans, it was very much a case of ‘grazie a tutti’ following last weekend’s Serie A results. Having eased past Chievo in the weekend’s opening clash, Roma subsequently witnessed their fellow Champions League protagonists drop points as Good Friday gave way to an even better weekend.

Suddenly, a highly beneficial weekend has put a different complexion on the table and once again thoughts turn to the magical fourth place quest. The prevailing air of positivity is now embellished by a forthcoming trip to basement boys Bari this weekend and furthermore, with Lazio entertaining Juventus and Udinese travelling to Fiorentina, Roma could profit once again.

Bari recently entertained Serie A whipping boys Sampdoria and allowed their guests to register their first away victory in eons - benevolence which affirmed their drop to Serie B. So, with nothing but pride at stake, i lupi will look to capitalise on their hosts unenviable position but will have to execute their lines with greater authority than against Chievo.

A barrage of 27-shots rained down on Sorrentino’s goal, but only Perotta’s very well worked effort on four minutes successfully broke Chievo’s defence. Mirko Vucinic’s shyness in front of goal continues and criticism for the Montenegrin gathers steam while rumours abound of him leaving Rome in the summer.

Seemingly, Mirko’s ‘Coppa miss’ against Inter hasn’t been easily forgotten and despite finding the net the previous weekend, certain tifosi appear ambivalent towards the prospect of a possible Vucinic sale. Meanwhile, Marco Boriello sat out the Chievo clash and having scored just once in the previous thirteen Serie A games, should be the one forward susceptible to scrutiny.

Even when misfiring, Mirko offers tenacity, work rate and willingness – qualities lacking from Boriello’s game and the thought of ‘having’ to make good on a multi-million euro package involving AC Milan is a galling proposition based on Borriello’s form. Right now, a goal shy but committed Vucinic brings a great deal more to Roma than the habitually benched Boriello, and of the latter, could or should Roma buy and sell Borriello in one fell swoop at the end of this season?

One player immune from such consternation is of course Francesco Totti, and along with club stalwart Simone Perrotta, the pair have given voice to pro Montella sensibilities – a mere fillip from ‘mates’ or a hint that the rookie may get to cut his managerial teeth next term?

As to be expected, fans remain in favour of Carlo Ancelotti while journalists get creative in a bid to muster fresh print. Napoli’s ‘Walter Mazzarri’ and Porto’s much revered coach ‘Villas Boas’ are just two of the latest names to hit the headlines but one senses that the press corps are merely playing devil’s advocate.

Regarding ‘Carletto’, Chelsea’s late season revival may scupper the expectations of many Romanisti. Arsenal’s demise has helped to thrust Chelsea into second place and with Ancelotti’s men yet to face leaders Manchester United, a successive Premiership crown is not an impossible ask, albeit a highly improbable one.

Premiership aside, the world of football understands that Ancelotti’s chief Chelsea remit is to secure Abramovich his much sought after Champions League title. On this basis, after two fruitless campaigns many are predicting Carlo’s demise, but just possibly Abramovich may feel that he already has the best candidate short of the proven Pep Guardiola, or indeed a return for the ‘special one’.   Other than these two unlikely candidates or Sir Alex Ferguson, there are few ‘sure things’ when it comes to securing football’s biggest club prize and a summer exit for Carletto is simply not an inevitability all things considered.

Under Rosella Sensi’s tenure Francesco Totti wielded an inordinate amount of power and it will be fascinating to see how this dynamic manifests under the Di Benedetto regime. If ‘il capitano’ holds court once more then his words in favour of Montella may prove prophetic and would this necessarily be such a bad thing?

Recent performances have proved that ‘Er Pupone’ remains at the hub of all things good about Roma and if Totti is happy, then seemingly Roma has a chance in most games. The difference in Totti’s disposition between the Ranieri and Montella eras is patently clear to see, and if it is the latter who has helped bring about this change, while Totti remains at Roma’s epicentre is it worth maintaining this status quo?

Some may argue that with Roma on the cusp of ‘superclub status’, a suitably experienced coach is a perquisite to steer the club into the stratosphere and to secure a slew of marquee signings. Such lofty aspirations aside, next year is more likely to prove a transitory phase and throughout which, keeping Totti content may prove prudent - and let’s face it, capitano will be at the heart of Roma next season irrespective of new signings.

But whatever the long term future holds, with a victory against Bari the Giallorossi can make an early and significant step forward. Securing Champions League football for next season has for some time seemed an unattainable goal, but with Roma more acclimatised to season-end pressure than either Lazio or Udinese, it’s almost inevitable that further points will be dropped and providing Roma fulfil their half of the bargain, the vaunted fourth place finish remains a possibility.

Should indeed Roma finish in fourth place then pragmatism about mangers and signings may take on a whole new twist, until then however it’s wise to treat all speculation with scepticism and temper aspirations with the realisation that so much is out of Roma’s control.

So be it Carlo Ancelotti or a fourth place finish, as with last weekend benevolence from elsewhere is required and all we as Romanisti can do is keep the faith.

Stuart Harper

Freelance sports writer covering football, calcio & futbol. A Villa, Roma & Barca fan. Cycling too.

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