Roma and Spalletti – The marriage is over
After the Giallorossi’s defeat to Juventus on Sunday evening Coach Luciano Spalletti’s tenure at the helm of AS Roma is over.
After nearly five years in charge, the final straw came with the defeat to the Bianconeri, as club directors look to take Roma in a different direction, with the “tinker man” Claudio Ranieri being trusted to pull the Italian giant out of its current malaise.
The writing was on the wall from Saturday night as reports in the Italian media were of a crisis meeting between Spalletti, Sporting Director Daniele Prade and Technical Director Bruno Conti that lasted over an hour in the bowels of the Olympic Stadium.
In the opening two games of the championship, the Tuscan tactician had the look of a man who had resigned himself to the fact that he had taken the club as far as he could.
His demeanour on the opening night in Genoa suggested that he could not believe how his side had let slip a 2-1 advantage, with defending of comical proportions, and Saturday he was resigned to seeing his charges torn apart by the blistering talent of Juventus’s new superstar, Diego.
Spalletti’s reign at Roma will be remembered for some scintillating displays as he made the Giallorossi one of the most attractive sides in Europe. Working within a structure that was restrictive to say the least, he assembled a squad based on a 4-2-3-1 formation, with his midfield players interchanging positions to support the lone front man. It was innovative and effective as opposition defenders seemed confused about who they should mark.
In his first season Roma reeled off a then record of 11 straight wins and finished league runners up as well as Coppa Italia runners up, both times, their nemesis would be Inter Milan. The following season, Spalletti was voted as Serie A coach of the year as his team became Inter Milan’s only credible challenger for the Scudetto.
Again his squad had to be content with a runners up spot but took heart in a two legged Coppa Italia victory over the Nerazzurri to give Roma their first domestic cup trophy for 15 years. In Europe, his team were also making a name for themselves as they progressed to the quarter final of the Champions League, only to be dismantled over two legs by Manchester United, the 7-1 record defeat at Old Trafford was one the Giallorossi could well have done without.
The start of Spalletti’s third season in charge saw the club claim the Italian Supercup with a superb 1-0 victory in the San Siro against Champions Inter Milan. It seemed that Roma’s time had arrived and the club could launch a serious assault on the league championship.
However, a shocking injury to their captain and talisman Francesco Totti, seemed to derail their title aspirations.
An amazing second half to the campaign saw I Lupi take the championship to the final game and when they led Catania at half time as Inter Milan were being held at Parma, it seemed the impossible might happen, but a Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired Inter Milan eventually overcame their hosts and Spalletti had to settle for second place for a third successive season, missing out on the title by just three points.
That final day heartbreak seemed to affect the squad and the following season the Giallorossi got off to a dreadful start. Surprisingly, their salvation lay in the Champions League and a blistering 3-1 victory at the Olimpico against Chelsea in the group stages, propelled La Magica on an unbeaten run in Serie A to put them back into contention for a top four finish.
Again injuries to key players at just the wrong time was the undoing of all Spalletti’s hard work and another dip in form saw the club scrape into the Europa League qualification rounds with a sixth place finish. This summer has been a turbulent time in the capital with many new investors linked with the takeover of the club.
The Sensi family have stayed put under mounting criticism from the tifosi who have made their feelings known with a series of protests at the club’s training ground at Trigoria, on the outskirts of the city. Spalletti has tried to prepare the squad for the new campaign to the best of his abilities but the transfer kitty is virtually empty and his frustrations have been plain to see. .Spalletti leaves Roma with the following Serie A record:
A diplomatic Coach, who went about his work with dignity and style, it is hoped that Spalletti will be back in Calcio sooner rather than later. The tifosi have lost a genuinely nice guy, one of the games’s most forward thinking tacticians and everyone in the game will wish him well with his future projects.
Claudio Ranieri, a native of Rome, and a Roma fan, now realises a dream and has a remit to salvage the season before it descends into total oblivion, a task all Romanista hope he is up to.