AS Roma have reappointed former coach Luciano Spalletti in a bid to arrest an alarming slide suffered under outgoing boss Rudi Garcia, but it’ll be hard work for the welcome returnee.
It became abundantly clear within recent weeks that Garcia’s time at the helm was coming to an end, having claimed victory just once in seven Serie A games leading up to his eventual sacking.
The Frenchman ultimately failed to lead an expected assault on top spot in the league standings, despite the purchase of several new signings during the summer months and a promising start to the season that also saw reigning champions Juventus flounder initially.
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Therefore, he was jettisoned after two-and-a-half-years in charge at the Stadio Olimpico, with ex-Giallorossi supremo Luciano Spalletti installed as favourite for the post prior to Garcia’s dismissal, due to widely publicised talks held in Miami with president James Pallotta.
Spalletti inherits a strong squad badly lacking confidence and composure, with mental frailties apparently at the heart of the problems faced by his predecessor.
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ONCE IS NEVER ENOUGH
The Tuscan native spent four happy years at Roma during his previous stint in the Eternal City, which yielded an impressive 54 per cent win rate in all competitions until he left in 2009.
Two back-to-back Coppa Italia trophies won during his tenure – in 2007 and 2008 – mean that he is the last coach to deliver silverware for the long-suffering Lupi. In addition, the Italian Super Cup was also nabbed in 2007.
Roma set a new record for consecutive victories in 2006 with 11, while the former lower-league midfielder was named Serie A Coach of the Year largely on the back of that sterling run.
A poor start to the 2009-10 campaign prompted him to resign in September of that term, which then saw him move on to Russian Premier League outfit Zenit three months later.
There, he lifted the domestic championship twice and one Russian Super Cup, totalling six major honours snared in his career to date.
Spalletti certainly proved to be a popular figure at the Roman club throughout a reasonably successful opening period at the Olimpico, which should stand him in good stead heading into his second spell more than six years after he departed.
The 56-year-old favours an attack-minded game based around a 4-2-3-1 formation that he has long championed, which regularly features a ‘false’ no.9 at the spearhead of his forward line.
If he utilises such an approach at Roma, it’ll require only slight adjustment from the 4-3-3 selected most often by Rudi Garcia, thus causing minimal disruption.
However, it could conceivably mean curtains for Edin Dzeko as the team’s focal point up front, as he has scored only three goals in his opening 15 Serie A appearances and is an out-and-out striker.
Meanwhile, Spalletti will undoubtedly wish to introduce a few new faces at the earliest opportunity, with Zenit full-back Domenico Criscito recently suggesting that he would love to link-up with his former boss once again.
Perhaps the biggest task facing the new man, though, will be to increase confidence levels and morale within a squad which has had those vital attributes drained from their collective psyche over the last couple of months.
Roma are already out of the Coppa Italia, while they’ve been drawn with giants Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 and were sat seven points adrift of Serie A leaders Napoli on his heralded arrival, thus testing Spalletti’s man-management skills to the absolute limit.
The quality of players required to at least mount a valiant domestic comeback are already there at his disposal, but manifest mental fragilities must be overcome if they are to retrieve any tangible success from this season.
Can Spalletti be a success at AS Roma again? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!