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Stuart Harper On May - 24 - 2011

Sette Sempre Unica - First Things First For Roma

That’s the season done and dusted, now the real entertainment can begin – a summer of wild speculation, fervent anticipation and the foundations laid for future success. But with the dust barely settled upon a bittersweet campaign, it’s time to take stock of a number of key issues.

Roma are on the cusp of a wholesale regeneration project, and although it won’t rival that of Manchester City, in relative terms it is a very big deal. A potential pitfall in embracing such sweeping change however, is a propensity to readily dismiss the past.

It hasn’t been a stellar season by any means and certain scapegoats have long been identified. Maybe it’s because of his ancestry and the weight of expectation he duly carries, but Daniele De Rossi is in danger of being dispensed with, largely by disgruntled fans keen to focus on the elbows and a clutch of uncharacteristically poor performances.

Tifosi should remember that ‘DDR’ has had a succession of off-field problems and while personal life should not impinge upon professional duties, it is a different and heavily pressurised proposition for a native Roman playing in giallorosso.

Who knows when Totti may hang up his boots, but a Roma without a prodigal son doesn’t sit comfortably with this tifoso. With support rather than scorn, Daniele can return to being the player that piqued Sir Alex Ferguson’s interest – just hopefully while he is still a Roma player as in De Rossi, Roma have a player of considerable talent, and spiritually, a man who understands the very essence of the famed Curva Sud.

As new signings inevitably stream into the Stadio Olimpico, to have De Rossi present to communicate what it means to be a Roman, to grow up on the fabled ‘Sud’ is a real plus – a process that may help Daniele mature into a leader as much as assist new recruits in appreciating the club’s unique culture.

Of course we have Totti, but ‘il capitano’ is not the most vociferous of leaders. More so, he leads by example or at least has done under Montella. By contrast, De Rossi is a much more interactive and engaging character and given the opportunity, with renewed resolve can prove to be an instrumental element in Roma’s new direction – (thankfully this week, tifosi outside Trigoria have shown support for DDR in the form of banners which hopefully have been duly noted).

Speaking of favourite sons, it is fair to say that under very trying circumstances, Vincenzo Montella has served Roma well in his brief tenure as caretaker coach. This week he has reiterated a desire to lead the club full-time and statistically, can point towards a better record than his predecessor to help validate his claim.

This said; the prospect of leading Roma through a transformation and the summer mercato is a daunting one. Therefore, would Thomas Di Benedetto entrust the millions he’s investing to the rookie tactician?

In other words, there is no slight being made upon Montella’s clear potential, but the prudent revered hedge fund manager is far more likely to ‘hedge’ and err towards a tried and tested managerial option. Undoubtedly there is a place for l’aeroplanino within the Giallorossi, but it is reasonable to expect a new and more experienced tactician at Roma’s helm.

Last week’s ‘Sette Sempre Unica’ suggested that the fate of Carlo Ancelotti could very soon be resolved and so it came to pass. Barely had Chelsea’s Premiership season concluded when it was announced that Carlo had been sacked. Of course, existing rumours soon morphed into palpable ‘Roman expectancy’, but certain quarters have since poured cold water on what many believe is an inevitable switch for the now available Ancelotti.

‘The Times’ football correspondent Oliver Kay tweeted that one of his sources, someone close to Carlo, believed that the Italian was keen on a stay in England and more importantly ‘cool’ on the prospect of coaching Roma. Now, this very thought may sound reprehensible to some, but thinking about it, is Ancelotti compatible with Roma in its current raw and Europa League bound state, or does the club need to develop before Carlo can add the embellishment he is capable of?

Totti is one person who feels that now is the time for Ancelotti but does the eagerness of Er Pupone have more to do with Totti’s age than anything else? Capitano cannot wait two seasons while Roma transform into a club worthy of garnering Carletto’s interest. Rather Totti wants one more scudetto and his vocal support of Ancelotti is both pragmatic and self serving in equal measure.

At this juncture it is imperative that we take a measured view of how the club should progress and while we have every right to be excited at the endless possibilities, we must address certain elements first, namely a need to stay true to our roots and seek evolution rather than revolution. In doing so, we afford De Rossi the opportunity to return to his old self without having to seek a costly alternative while seeking a manager complicit with the very great demands ahead.

Then, with these foundations in place, we can seek the talent to help propel Roma’s ascendency – a topic which will surely dominate the next few editions of Sette Sempre Unica.

Stuart Harper

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

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