Monday April 30 2012
Has Roma’s project failed?

Roma’s project is coming under real strain now that the fans have turned against it. Rob Paton rounds up Week 35.

“We only love the shirt,” read the banner displayed by the Stadio Olimpico’s Curva Sud on Saturday night. As fans booed Roma’s players during their pre-match warm-up and during the announcing of the teams and even at full-time, despite the team’s creditable 2-2 draw with Napoli, it is perhaps clearer than ever that the tide has turned against those looking to change the Giallorossi. Francesco Totti, who this week again stated his support for what the capital club are trying to do, had to go to the Curva Sud to apologise at the end of the Derby del Sole.

What seems to have swung the majority from patient faith in the project – funded by the American owners and led by director general Franco Baldini and Spanish Coach Luis Enrique – to restrained anger at it has been a gradual decline in both results and quality of play. Consecutive defeats to Juventus and Fiorentina in of itself is not entirely unexpected of this current transitional Roma – the Bianconeri were the fourth different side to have netted four against Enrique’s team this season and La Viola not the first lower-table team to have beaten them. Yet, from the overwhelmed nature of the loss in Turin to the collapse against Fiorentina after initially fighting their way back into contention, there is a growing exasperation with the project’s perceived lack of progress.

“This Roma is exactly the one we had seen on the first day of the season, and the second and so on,” wrote Radio Radio’s Roberto Renga after the Week 34 defeat at the Olimpico. “This is the Roma who lost to Genoa, to Cagliari at home, that was outplayed by Siena, was not present at Juve, lost the two derbies and was eliminated from Europe and the Coppa Italia. I could take pages I’ve already written and republish them.”

In short, the feeling is that the Roma fans are seeing today is the same as that seen in Week 2’s opening day defeat to Cagliari. The opening to both halves of football against Napoli was reflective of where this sense is coming from. From several misplaced passes from defence into midfield and midfield into attack, the Roma players’ positioning was slightly off kilter. Where this presented the appearance of a side full of nervous energy, not able to back up the desire to move things quickly with the technicality, there was also an edge that tactically things are still confused.

A good example came as early as the 16th minute, when Simon Kjaer moved forward with possession under instruction from Enrique who was a few yards away on the touchline. As Kjaer obliged, Enrique barked for others to come short for the Dane. Fabio Borini and Fernando Gago both did as instructed, just as the defender then lifted the ball above them to give away possession.

Such unfamiliarity with each others’ positioning was apparent for long spells of play on Saturday night and was to blame for a series of opportunities on the break afforded to Napoli and for the notable 20-minute spell in the second half that the visitors dominated and should have put the game to bed in. It is also the type of uncertainty that has been apparent in patches in recent weeks and, 10 months into drills and training with Enrique, is somewhat hard to explain. However, those looking for reasoning have focused on the Coach’s uncertainty, from his failure to settle on a preferred starting XI to even his admittance in midweek that he is still ‘thinking’ about what exactly has gone wrong.

Whilst examples of progress still remain – from a 10-minute period at end of the first half that included Francesco Totti and Aleandro Rosi’s link-up play to set up Marquinho for 1-0 to the 23 other chances the team created in the 90 minutes – a collective and growing negative attitude towards the team remains at the end of Week 35. The post-match conference saw Enrique almost sarcastically asked if he would be considering taking a sabbatical, just as Barcelona ally Pep Guardiola announced, but perhaps most tellingly though, the Giallorosso tactician played along to this suggestion.

“You never know in football, the future does not exist. The future is in Verona [Roma play away to Chievo on Tuesday]. At the end of the season I will talk with the club about the problems and the possible solutions and we will make a decision together.”

Baldini looked to draw the pressure on to himself instead, but it is Enrique who ominously offered: “I’m a different man, I think things differently and this is why, despite the confidence of the team and the club, I will wait to see what happens.”

Perhaps part of the frustration comes from how close and low-yielding the race above them for third place is. Four teams currently occupy the prized spot on 55 points, which is a tally that is four less than the Giallorossi had after 35 rounds played in 2010-11 and in fact would only have had Napoli, Lazio, Udinese and Inter sitting in equal eighth after last term’s Week 35. It looks likely to be one of the closest fights for Champions League qualification for some time and is set to continue on until the final, official, whistle from a referee, as Edy Reja’s side learned the hard way in Udine on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a goal, two assists and a nutmeg in Milan’s 4-1 win at Siena on Sunday were among the highlights to have Cesare Prandelli purring for Italy’s hopes going into Euro 2012, as Antonio Cassano all-but-confirmed that where his match fitness may not have returned, his fantasia certainly has. Significance in the Rossoneri’s win also came in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antonio Nocerino’s goals. Where Ibra’s double took him to a career-best League tally this term of 26 League goals, Nocerino reached double figures to become the first footballer not based as a striker or trequartista to do so in Serie A since Eugenio Corini and Marco Materazzi both did in 2006-07.

At the same time, Juventus’ win over Novara had significance this weekend, as they broke the record for most consecutive League games unbeaten in a single season – Milan’s undefeated term of 1991-92 was 34 games long – and most games unbeaten in all competitions in a single season with the 4-0 win in Piedmont the Bianconeri’s 39th game without defeat this campaign in League and Cup. The team still has a way to go to beat the Rossoneri’s 58-League game streak achieved between 1991 and 1993, however.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
The statement "Piedmont the Bianconeri’s 39th game without defeat this campaign in League and Cup." is not true. As we all know Juve lost there second leg to Milan after 90 minutes play. So there streak in cup and league was halted there.

on the 2nd May, 2012 at 9:40am
Give him another year, or more. Coach's get too much credit/abuse when results are good/bad. The players are grown men who should go out and do their job properly. If a player goes out and puts in only 70% effort, then that's his fault.
Italian football has no patience, however, and Enrique could be gone in the summer. Another thing people have to remember is that he took over a squad that was at Death's door. It will take years to build a squad, not 8 months.
on the 1st May, 2012 at 10:52pm
If I'm the american chairman with experience owning a truly successful sports franchise, I'm not worried about pandering to a sect of malcontent fans who cost the club more money than they spend supporting it. Hopefully Roma continue with their project, which as a neutral fan of calcio in general I support, focusing on youth and technique with a long term vision.
on the 1st May, 2012 at 1:15pm
Can't agree with a majority here. Enrique should get another season, it is a long term project not a season long one. There have been mistakes yes but do we not learn from them? He is probably trying to create a different'Culture' at Trigoria. This takes time. I want Roma to win the league and be in the Champions League etc etc, however, I am realistic and do not see it happening straight away. That said, I am not happy with Kjaer, Gago, Angel. Would prefer Pizarro / Simplicio over Gago.
on the 1st May, 2012 at 12:40pm
I don't blame the coach, you get what you pay for. I think its a very stupid thing to do to buy an unproven coach in this way and expect a successful project. I partly understand roma's thinking behind it but to expect this coach to be like guadiola and mimic in some ways the style and success of barca was crazy. To think luis would come from barca and be of that level is nuts, anyone could manage barca with the players they have, so messuring a a coach from a team like that is roma's mistake
on the 1st May, 2012 at 9:52am
As much is it pains me to watch the inconsistent performances of Roma, I still find it difficult to blame the coach. The problem lies with the answer to one question. What major purchases in personal have Roma made in the last 4 years? None.The problem is one created in the dying days of the Sensi ownership and the lack of money being put into the club. Now, if the new ownership opens up the purse strings this summer and the results stay the same then one could legitimately blame the coach.
on the 1st May, 2012 at 5:03am
on the 1st May, 2012 at 4:22am
Enrique came in with a pompous attitude and an unearned swagger. Remember how he treated Totti initially? LE made the mistake of thinking that he was responsible for Barca B's success, not the system or the players. Roma needs a new mister, and LE needs to learn how to really coach.
on the 1st May, 2012 at 1:30am
too early to tell if the project has failed. but after this summer, when enrique can acquire some players he feels fit for his squad and then into next season can we all tell. at this point, the results just have not been coming for roma and its very disappointing. frustrating to say the least. if enrique after this summer (with some new players)can't get the results earlier next season, then i think he should resign. over a year with quality players is more then enough time to get results.
on the 1st May, 2012 at 12:25am
I wouldnt call it a failure, if they are really trying for a revolutionary "project" he should get 2-3 years.

BUT ultimately a club has to please its fans, and they are done with him so you must call it a fail and fire him. Whther if given time it would work or not, who knows, but he will not get the chance. He'll go manage a mid table team back in Spain I prodict
on the 30th April, 2012 at 7:07pm
"Rome wasn't build in a day" is what Baldini and Enrique fans say.

True, but the last time I checked my history books it wasn't build by some Spanish nobody either, WAS IT!??
on the 30th April, 2012 at 5:58pm
Its time for LE to go.. His not the right man! Since being romanisti 15 years ago this is the most rubbish defense roma i ever seen..
And LE doesnt do anything to solve this problem..
Ancelotti should take over roma next season, his a truly romanisti with lots of experience..
on the 30th April, 2012 at 4:07pm
Previous season Juventus also began a project and see how it turned out at the end, they finished 7th !!!

Like Juventus, it will take time for Roma to reap positive results, then we can say if it was a sucess or failure.

Roma's biggest mistake this season was hiring Luis Enrique and not Carlo Ancelotti.
on the 30th April, 2012 at 3:54pm
Roma's so-called project isn't the finished article yet but it hasn't been a great success at all. Roma haven't really improved since Ranieri resigned and they still have a style over substance nature about them. Enrique hasn't brought the "win with style" mentality to the club yet, if he is the one at all.

Aside from Borini, most of their signings have been questionable and even though they are bringing in younger players, why isn't Enrique selecting players from Roma's primavera?
on the 30th April, 2012 at 1:31pm
Enrique should go, only one man should manage Roma and that should be Carlo Ancelotti he will sort the defence out!!
on the 30th April, 2012 at 1:21pm
Absolutely a TOTAL failure, Enrique has no business being Roma's coach, one thing is to be reserve coach and another thing to be the man in charge. Barcelona will not call on him to replace Guardiola, and NO, he doesn't need ANOTHER year as Baldini says, he needs to give his resignation if he has any respect for Roma's fans. Roma was a team in Italian league that play a fast pace, crisp counter attacks, true, with some deficiencies in defense, but nevertheless great to watch.It is SOCCER now!
on the 30th April, 2012 at 12:36pm
Has it failed? that depends on how long you give it? I mean if they said 12 month project then yes its failed but if Enrique is given 2 or 3 years then no it hasnt, Bizzare thing is he should have signed better ball players then what he has there for the style of play.. Barcelona are a one off and its done from an early age so to compare to them is not good..Juventus play the best football in Serie A one or two touch this year has been fantastic
on the 30th April, 2012 at 12:29pm
Roma, have a ton of young talent, they are in much better position. They just need to add some defense.

They'll also playing better in the second of the season, bring on so many new players, was too difficult to fine any formula.
on the 30th April, 2012 at 12:02pm
NO! It hasn't failed. This team doesn't look complete or close to it. From stats of the scored goals and conceded ones, we can easily see that Roma has a top side attack and a relegation zone defense. A good coach would've noticed this, and wouldn't hesitate to act. I haven't seen any changes from Enrique in this direction.
We can argue that Enrique may not be the right one to coach Roma, but that's just a piece of the project which can be replaced.
on the 30th April, 2012 at 11:29am

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