The return of Spalletti

By Ali Khalid Rana

As the murmurs against Rudi Garcia become stronger, the name Luciano Spalletti is mentioned repeatedly. The astute Italian manager who had a glorious spell at the Giallorossi from 2005-09 has been jobless since been sacked from Zenit in March 2014.

He introduced the famous false number 9 with the perfect student in Francesco Totti. The famous 4-6-0 ( or personally for me its a 4-5-1-0) formation brought spectacular results with aesthetically pleasing crisp football.

He firmly established Roma back on the European map and they became the neutrals team to watch in Serie A. Spalletti being linked with Roma has the fans dreaming of the glory days. I, for one, am against this touted return and my reasons are the following:


  • Spalletti’s System:
    Spalletti’s greatest achievement was converting Er Pupone into a False No. 9. The tactical switch went so well that Totti till date has played that position. For Spalletti’s Roma to function at their optimum, Totti is a vital cog.Unfortunately Il Captiano is now 38 going on 39 and has at maximum a year or two left in the tank.To find a false number nine is difficult; barring Messi no one has been able to play the role effectively, Gotze tried, Fabregas tried but they were all experiments that were scrapped.If Spalletti was to take the helm, he’ll need to find a new Totti or convince Messi to join Roma, both possibilities are equally bleak.


  • Tactical inflexibility:
    Tactical rigidity has been an accusation levied on Rudi Garcia in the current season. As the results dwindled, the Frenchman’s stubbornness to stick with one system has brought out hue and cry among fans. For the 5 years Spalletti was managing Roma he played a 4-2-3-1 system, which slowly became a 4-5-1-0. He rarely showed any tactical flexibility and when everyone had his innovative system figured out, the results started dwindling as well and even he didn’t change his system.The 7-1 defeat at Old Trafford against Manchester United was advocate of his system being found out. Sir Alex set up his team perfectly to counter the attacking style of Roma and demolished their Champions League dream.


  • Lack of League Success:
    Even during the glorious period where the Serie A was relatively weak with numerous teams suffering from Calciopoli, financial problems and ending cycles and Roma only had Inter to compete with Spalletti’s team did not manage to win any titles. Spalletti’s best finish was out done by Rudi Garcia in his first season in a record breaking performance.Despite being aesthetically pleasing, Spalletti I doubt will deliver on trophies something which Roma fans have been craving for years. Albeit if given the current, he will have better resources and a better XI but also a more competitive top half of Serie A.


  • Performance in Russia:
    Despite winning numerous titles and accolades at Zenit, Spalletti’s performance is best labelled as acceptable. Titles, cups and Champions League progress were minimum required achievements. He never managed to take them to European glory something that he was brought in for, to put the club on the European map.Prior to his joining the club, they had achieved European success in the UEFA cup. Under his command the Russian club failed to progress beyond the round of 16 in European competitions. Armed with the likes of Danny, Hulk, Axel Witsel and Criscito, he was expected to sweep all domestic titles and take the club to the next level in Europe. I think he failed on both ends as he missed on a domestic title but the failure was much more gloriously in Europe.  
  • Other options:
    Spalletti might be in the running for the job but they are quite a few alternatives who have been linked. Fan favorite Montella is one of them. The ex-Roma legend did a decent job in Rome when he was appointed the caretaker manager and has grown immensely since then. Currently as Fiorentina manager he has turned a semi decent squad into a swashbuckling attacking unit that fears no teams and are doing well in Europe and Serie A. With a better budget and base at Roma, he can surely turn the team into a winning unit.Antonio Conte’s future at the Azzurri looks rocky as he has faced problems with the FA and the recent death threats from Juventus fans only add fuel to the fire. Conte joining the Giallorossi would be a massive coup, having turned around the fortunes of the Old Lady of Turin and he can do the same for Roma.Obviously, the ultimate fan dream of Carlo Ancelotti is yet again linked. His job at Real Madrid is far from secure and the Roma legend will be welcomed back by fans and the management with open arms.Lastly, Rudi Garcia staying at the club is a perfectly acceptable scenario. After a record breaking first season, it would be harsh on the Frenchman to fire him after a season where (if they do) they end up finishing second. Garcia holds his fate in his own hand if all goes well in the last 10 games I surely expect him to continue but if he falters and somehow Lazio finish above Roma he will be shown the door.

On a personal note, I would not want Luciano Spalletti to come back because I have very fond memories of his first stint at Roma and I don’t want to tarnish them. It might be similar to Marcello Lippi’s second try with the Italian National Team and we all know how that went. Though If he does come back, I sincerely hope he proves me wrong.


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About Stefano Bernardini 3239 Articles
A Roman in New York achieving his dreams. Persistence can make extraordinary things happen. Editor of AS ROMA 360 | | Calcio e Finanza | Reporting on Major League Soccer.

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