2nd October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Following a slightly frustrating start to the 2017/2018 campaign under new manager Eusebio Di Francesco, which was underlined by a loss to Inter Milan and a tough draw with Atletico Madrid, the relentless Rome media pack were out in force to sling criticism his way.
In the latter fixture, however, which was a credible 0-0 draw with an exceptional Atletico Madrid outfit, the angst was particularly fervent, with many demanding dramatic improvement. Reports then went into overdrive suggesting that club president, James Palotta, even stated he was unsatisfied by the result and the performance. Palotta then vehemently denied such claims and reiterated his support of Di Francesco, while also making sure to take a swipe at the media. "I never said anything negative about the team or the coach," he said.
"It's not the truth, but I'm used to it now. There is a tendency in the media in Rome and it seems they feel the need to invent something. At the end of the game, I went into the dressing room and there are plenty of witnesses. I hugged everybody and paid my compliments to [Kostas] Manolas and I gave a long hug to Alisson, reaffirming my compliments to the team, the coach and the management."
Since that Atleti contest, the Giallorossi have really began to kick into gear, recording five consecutive wins, in a stretch that's seen them really begin to gain some momentum. Scoring 14 goals in their last five games and only conceding two has given further reason for positivity. Although four of their wins came against slightly weaker opposition in the form of Hellas Verona, Benevento, Udinese and Qarabag, the statement win over AC Milan last night will have done wonders for their confidence.
Moreover, the way Edin Dzeko, Radja Nainggolan and Stephan El Sharaawy have hit some excellent form has been a testament to the way Di Francesco has gotten his message across. Furthermore, new signings Aleksandar Kolarov, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Cengiz Under and Maxime Gonalons have also shown their worth whenever called upon, as the Wolves' squad depth has been an undoubted highlight.
Inherently, it was going to take time to adjust to Di Francesco's possession based 4-3-3 system, but Nainggolan believes they'll fully click sooner rather than later. "Di Francesco has his own philosophy and that's only right. We've been completely open to his ideas but we're obviously not running like clockwork just yet. It will take a little while before we see the sort of football he has in mind," the star midfield insisted.
"He's come in and set out his ideas very clearly and shown great determination in pursuing them. His greatest attribute is his character. He's very focused on the job at hand."
With every passing game his structures are evidently working far better, with a good occupation of attacking spaces, great wing combination play and his 4-1-4-1 defensive base performing particularly effectively. Brazilian Goalkeeper, Alisson, who only featured in the cups last term as Wojciech Szczesny's deputy, has encouragingly stepped up and filled the void left by the departed Szczesny with aplomb.
Even though it's still early days for the Di Francesco era at Roma, after a challenging start, all the signs are there that it could be quite a successful term for the Giallorossi. So far he's handled the criticism well too, which is a crucial aspect of the job for any Roma manager to deal with. The fact Luciano Spalletti, Roma's previous manager, noted what a frustrating presence the local journalists were and how the disheartening environment they create was a vital factor in his decision to leave for Inter Milan evidence what a challenging component this is to deal with.
As the season pans out it will unquestionably be fascinating to see how things pan out in the Eternal City this season. The pressure will always be intense the moment a bad result of performances arises, but Di Francesco, who's a former Roma player, looks like the right man to be steering the ship.
Roma Manager Eusebio Di Francesco Looks to be the Right Man to Steer the Squad to Success.
2nd October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.