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Roma have long been a club to polarise opinions, seldom does one encounter a fair-weather Giallorosso fan or indeed an ambivalent foe – you’re either fervently for or against. Then, within Roma’s very own fan base there exists that very same dynamic - deeply passionate tifosi who bicker amongst themselves, often furiously, in a bid to impose a personal vision of all things i lupi.

Today, Roma is a maelstrom of madness. From the magnificence of Er Pupone to the malevolence of Daniele De Rossi, the team is a melting pot of emotions. And however one sees the glass, be it half-empty or full, there’s sufficient flux to keep Romanisti at odds with each other throughout the long, football-less, summer ahead.

For those with a sunny disposition, the continued form of il capitano is joy personified - our very own renaissance man. Be it a new, protein-rich diet or the bonhomie of Montella, Totti’s form is truly majestic and seemingly no game is complete without a Totti brace. Even a missed penalty couldn’t sour another Totti landmark, as the talisman surpassed Roberto Baggio’s scoring tally of 205 career goals.

A precision drive and the almost compulsory penalty saw Totti reach 206 Serie A goals - a feat which earned warm praise from the ponytailed one, who suggested that Totti could easily make inroads into Serie A’s next scoring landmark, a tally of 216 belonging to the legendary Giuseppe Meazza.

Back in early January, Totti cut a forlorn and clearly agitated figure on the sidelines of Sampdoria’s Luigi Ferraris stadium. Il doria emerged victorious that afternoon 2-1 with Claudio Ranieri reducing Totti to merely a bit part player.

Today, it’s a complete reversal of fortunes with capitano’s revival and the Giallorossi homing in on fourth contrasting starkly with a once promising Sampdoria, labouring to remain a top-flight team – therefore, all of which surely amounts to progress and offers reasons to be cheerful?

Not if your Roma glass is half-empty.

Roma’s defensive woes continue, with two goals conceded against a hapless Bari making it the sixth time in twelve ‘Montella ties’ that Roma have shipped more than one goal. Clearly missing Mexes, Roma’s backline is often found wanting, a fact epitomised by Bari’s second which saw Huseklepp head home despite the presence of four Giallorosso defenders.

With Juan’s looking a shadow of his former self, cleans sheets are a rare commodity and Roma’s ‘modus operandi’ is clearly scoring more than the opposition and in this regard, tifosi should be concerned as to who will supplement Totti’s remarkable haul.

Francesco Totti has supplied ten of Roma’s seventeen goals while l’aeroplanino has been at the helm – the equivalent of fourteen points, a handsome return compared to two Vucinic goals and none for Borriello or Menez during this period.

Without capitano’s late season renaissance Roma would be floundering in mid table obscurity and the reasons behind the profligacy of Roma’s other forwards is open for debate. Some argue that Borriello will not score from the bench and suggest that Montella is culpable for the former Milan striker’s malaise. Again with Menez, some suggest that the frostiness between Jeremy and Vincenzo has inhibited the Frenchman’s desire and thus potency.

Certainly and inevitably Montella must be feeling the strain, without the incomparable Totti the rookie coach’s inexperience would be rendered in a distinctly negative light. And as the season nears a pressure packed conclusion, camp discord appears to be manifesting in a lack of discipline which could scupper Roma’s quest for fourth place.

Possibly Montella lacks authority, the kind which is derived from experience and engenders locker-room solemnity and reverence. Conceivably this is why both De Rossi and Perrotta will miss the season-ending games after senselessly elbowing and punching Bari players respectively. Thereafter, does Montella lack the guile needed to placate the disenchanted trident of Vucinic, Menez and Borriello?

Although André Villas Boas (Porto) and Pep Guardiola (Barcelona) are proof that age is just number when it comes to management, one feels that for Montella, the huge transition being forced upon a club already stretched to its political, financial and playing limits, is a bridge too far for his skill set and beyond this term, Di Benedetto must look to install a man of greater experience.

So in essence, whether or not your glass is half-full; or indeed half-empty, there is sufficient good, bad and ugly to satisfy either disposition and provoke much debate along the sweeping curves of the ‘Sud’.

As the season nears a conclusion one senses that Roma must fashion victories by any means necessary. With the absence of Mexes and now De Rossi and Perrotta, it will be a triumph Roma’s indomitable spirit should the Giallorossi secure the vaunted fourth place berth.

Roma will take the points however they come. Whether it’s another Totti howitzer or a fortuitous ricochet off Rosi’s chest, all that matters tight now is the full-time result. And as Sunday proved, and as Roma’s fervent tifosi prove, if nothing else the Giallorossi has spirit by the bucket load.

AC Milan may have to chill that champagne for just a little longer yet - just don’t ask me how.

Stuart Harper

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

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