Following a spell of managerial turbulence that saw AS Roma sign and subsequently dismiss five different coaches in a span of three years, former Lille manager Rudi Garcia has worked miracles with the Serie A’s sleeping giants.
A turbulent summer of transfer action has seen i Giallorossi earn a return to footballing prominence, lying top of the Serie A table after a ravishing opening to the season in which they reigned victorious in ten consecutive games, eventually slowing down to two draws against Torino and Sassuolo in succession.
Inescapably, critics and enjoyers of football alike have been quick to baptize this potential footballing force as indubitable title contenders, perhaps somewhat prematurely.
While this is all and well, Francesco Totti and co. would do well to reflect upon the poignancy of Roma’s 2001-02 season, in which they collapsed to the might of Pavel Nedved and his Juventus side on the last game-day by one point, relinquishing what may have gone into the history books as a historic league title retention.
AS Roma entered the 2001-02 season as reigning Serie A victors – their first since 1983 – on the back of an incredibly active transfer window by the league as a whole. 18 Italian teams combined to a staggering 428 players moving in and out of the league.
Fabio Capello was certainly party to the action as he went about strengthening his title-winning squad, signing 10 players and selling 11, including marquee signing Antonio Cassano.
Rudi Garcia’s first transfer season shares similarities with the frantic nature of 2001, in that his squad underwent a rejuvenation of great magnitude, signing no less than 15 players on a permanent basis, whilst selling a staggering 18 players.
Season Arrivals* Departures* A/D Ratio %
2001/02 10 11 0.90909
2013/14 15 17 0.88235
*values sourced from Transfermarkt.
Garcia’s Roma have quickly ascended the Serie A table, finding themselves in first place, whereas Capello’s Roma took the backseat to Juventus, Internazionale and Chievo early, before emerging as title front runners 17 games into the season.
The sentiment, however, remains the same.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the big games that win titles, but rather the consistency shown against smaller clubs.
Capello’s Roma did little to no wrong against teams of similar stature, reigning victorious against the likes of Chievo (surprise title contenders that season), Bologna, Milan, Lazio and Juventus on more than one occasion in some instances.
Fatally however, Totti’s men dropped crucial points against relegation-threatened Fiorentina, Brescia, Perugia, Lecce and Verona amongst others, a habit that handed Juventus that season’s Scudetto on a silver platter.
This volatility and erraticism on the pitch plagued Roma’s otherwise impeccable season. One week they would draw against the to-be-relegated Lecce, and the next, Vincenzo Montella would net four goals en route to a 5-1 demolition of Lazio.
And already Roma are in danger of repeating their antics of 2002 this season, having dropped four points in succession to Torino and Sassuolo respectively, despite heading off to a start that saw them topple Lazio, Napoli and Internazionale.
Juventus has already managed to reduce Roma’s seemingly unassailable lead to one measly point, a shrill bout of nostalgia harking back to darker times.
Francesco Totti is the last remnant of the squad of 2001-02, and his experience is sure to prove a vital weapon in Roma’s vengeance of Juve’s last gasp triumph of yesteryear.
Whilst Napoli may have replaced Inter as the third prong in the Serie A trident, the present circumstances are almost nearly identical to that of 12 years ago.
Roma would do well to ensure history does not repeat itself
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