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Friday June 1 2012
Returning to Zemanlandia

Roma are turning back to Zdenek Zeman and his exciting brand of football. Rob Paton runs the rule over the decision.

As far as public opinion goes, the appointment of Zdenek Zeman as Roma Coach is proving popular and perhaps one that in the current market only Vincenzo Montella’s return could have rivalled. From Zeman’s reputation for attacking football to his proven affinity for working with and developing young players, the 65-year-old is seen as an ideal continuation of the core focus to Roma’s project and the work begun by Luis Enrique.

Indeed, the 2011-12 season even saw Enrique’s Press conferences punctuated with comparisons to and questions about Zeman, as the latter began to again catch attention with his work with Pescara a Division down from the Giallorossi. Alongside that progress with the Delfini that eventually took them to the Serie B title, an added attraction to following public opinion on appointing Zeman at the Olimpico is the club’s previous experience with him in the late 1990s. That Lupi placed credibly in the table by playing some eye-catching football, in a duel success-style aspect that the American-led project of 2012 is determined to identify with. In short, Zeman represents potential for creating the Roma that Enrique could not.

For Zeman too, the position is, as he put it himself, an adventure that represents both revenge and opportunity. Revenge for how he feels that first spell with the club ended over a decade ago, and perhaps an opportunity for what he sees in front of him to put that to bed once and for all.

“I left Roma before because I had to. It was for a political problem, not a performance one,” he told reporters this week. “In 1998, after the scandal, Roma lost more than 20 points due to the decisions of others. With those 20 points, the team would have been competitive. Continuing with me the next year, Roma would not have done any better, so it was better just to change.”

The scandal Zeman refers to is the one initiated through his accusations via the Press that Serie A clubs were illegally doping players to boost performance in the mid-to-late 1990s, with a specific attack launched at the Juventus team and his suspicious interpretation of their physical stature as players.

It resulted in a fallout that not only does Zeman blame as the reason he had to leave Roma, but that many cite as why the Coach has not had a chance to return to a top club since. Until now, where despite the absence, the tactician’s style of play and reputation amongst players he has worked with sees him return to Roma with his stock at an almost all-time high.

Even with his popularity and the promise of attacking play to come though, is the Prague-born Coach the right man at the right time for the transitional club? General analysis of what went wrong in the capital last term centres on three aspects. First, that the team’s weak defence was incapable of facilitating Enrique’s instruction without leaving themselves vulnerable in certain patterns of play. Secondly, that Enrique’s inability to manage the players on a psychological level meant performances fluctuated from game to game and thirdly, that there was a lack of directness to the young Coach’s tactics.

A look at the reaction a number of Pescara’s players have had to news of his departure suggests that his hold on a dressing room is influential enough to erase doubts about mentality, whilst he has more than once expressed an irritation towards Enrique’s tactical choices.

“He focuses on ball possession,” reflected Zeman last October when asked to compare his 4-3-3 with that of the Spaniard, who he didn’t always speak fondly of. “I do not, as I have no patience – it’s a question of character, but I want to always get to the goal.”

Finding a route to goal and keeping the squad correctly motivated are aspects Zeman is therefore anticipated to alleviate, but his arrival may actually increase scrutiny on the how the club tackle the transfer market to fix the first problem.

For the characteristics Zeman is expected to instil upon the playing staff, finer points to defending will not be one of them. His Pescara conceded at a rate almost as high as Roma last term, whilst his Foggia outfit of 2010-11 may have scored 14 more goals than anyone else in the Lega Pro Prima Divisione, but they only finished with a plus nine goal difference in light of conceding 13 more than any other side too.

His early career work with Foggia may have had them punching above their weight in Serie A and finishing the season on the verge of UEFA Cup qualification with an exciting brand of play, but perhaps for the anticipation to see what he can do back at the helm of a side with talent and status, it might be worth seeing if the old dog can learn a new trick or two to really progress the team in the way they hope.

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Have your say...
i think this guy has much to prove and i hope he does the best.. i am sure he has a lot to show, his experience is amazing and a decade after he left roma he is still is italy this simply shows a man with much commitment and i truly believe he will give something special to roma = a character maybe and never say die attitude! I starting to like this guy and i look forward to roma playing as they used to with fantastic attacking football as during spaletti's time. Roma has a great coach now!
on the 5th June, 2012 at 1:17am
As a Roma fan all my life I am a little disappointed at the lack of imagination of this appointment. Never go back! It didn't work for Cappello at milan and probably won't for Zeman at roma. I would have preferred Montella, though young he has talent. He never really had the job before, only sat in the dugout until the end of the season. I really want Zeman to succeed and hope he will use the young Romans from the youth system. He has my full support as always, I'm a Roman, it's my team. Forza!
on the 4th June, 2012 at 10:04pm
Welcome back Zeman! I'm excited to see Zeman back and a great move for the fans....Roma have enormous potential in attack with the likes of borini, totti, bojan, lamela, osvaldo and Zeman will exploit and be in heaven with an attacking selection he now has at his disposal.

Zeman has a true cult following with the Roma fans. He brought an exciting brand of football to roma that made roma exciting and feared and gave Roma fans a true passion to follow - Bring it on Zeman - attack at will!
on the 2nd June, 2012 at 4:52pm
I agree with the notion that it wasn't good to make Roma more "Spanish". Roma have a reputation for attacking football and have a good youth system. They need a winning culture.

Zeman won't fix the defence but he is a far superior coach to Enrique. He isn't a winner but he gets full marks for style. His teams attack with greater purpose and I expect him to use Osvaldo as a true #9, instead of having fake #9s like Totti and Pjanic.
on the 2nd June, 2012 at 12:52pm
I think this news is fantastic, welcome home Zeman! I admit we need a new defence but our attacking options are awesome. We must keep Osvaldo and get Veratti instead of Gago, sell Simplicio, Taddei, Perotta and get new blood
on the 2nd June, 2012 at 9:24am
What I like best about the Zeman appointment is that it guarantees excitement next season. I was desperate for Enrique to succeed, but in truth the team's performances were sterile while he was coach. Even when Roma won the performance was usually disjointed. I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of games I actually enjoyed last season.

If Zeman can challenge for a top 3 place while playing his usual attacking football it could be a season to remember at the Olimpico. Bring it on.
on the 2nd June, 2012 at 7:12am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utliTBRkgjU Welcome home to a GOD. He spoke the truth and suffered as a result. An icon, a role model for how football should be played, openly and honestly especially relevant in Italy yet again. 
on the 1st June, 2012 at 9:48pm
I like this hire. Zeman will have total support from the players and ownership because they all know the squad is a mess and needs direction. Hell, my beloved Parma matched their point total and we're put together with string and glue! Most importantly, Totti hasn't much more time left as an elite player, and he will embrace Zeman as his (Totti's) last shot at glory and Lo Scudetto...
on the 1st June, 2012 at 8:29pm
As a Lazio fan, I'm sad to see Zeman join Roma. Some of the best games I ever watched with Lazio was with Zeman in charge, his brand of football is attack, attack, attack. Should make for some exciting matches in the coming season, if he managed to sort a defence out he could easily win the league!
on the 1st June, 2012 at 7:30pm
Perfect decision!!

Zeman is the right man in the right place for roma..

I tottaly agree with the others roma are having a big problem on their defence..

They need to bring a player like such as samuel or aldair..

One thing for sure zeman will change the mentality of the team that is full with young players..

Forza roma!!
on the 1st June, 2012 at 5:53pm
Luis Enrique was trying to turn Roma into a Spanish team. They should be playing with their own style. Zeman first has to remove many of Roma's horrible defensive players. Then he has to organize the attack, which he can probably do. Roma worked best when they focused on getting the ball to borini.
on the 1st June, 2012 at 5:36pm
Michele, Zeman is a great coach & tactically more astute than Enrique. I'm sure he'll make Roma a force in the league again which ultimately is good for Italian Football.

But I think the main problem at Roma is chaos! Their senior players like Totti and their Ultras have too much say in the running of that football club and are ultimately holding the club back.

Zeman is respected and a disciplinarian, & will bring much needed stability in an attempt to awake a sleeping giant.
on the 1st June, 2012 at 1:13pm
roma will fly next season! if not, then you all can verbally bash me come next may. zeman has proven and brings exciting, attacking brand of football. similar to luis enrique. but luis enrique is a tactical light weight, especially in serie a where knowing and correctly implementing tactics is king. of course roma will concede many goals. but as long as they score and get the result then nothing else matters. 3pts after 90 minutes is the reward. do it, get it, and then move on to the next match.
on the 1st June, 2012 at 12:56pm
This sounds like a fascinating gamble. Roma do have enormous potential in attack with the likes of borini, totti, bojan, lamela, osvaldo. Midfield is not too shabby with quality in gago, de Rossi, pjanic, Pizarro. The missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle is the defence bar the goal keeper. Roma need a new back four. Juan, burdisso not good enough. And wingbacks not good enough either. To win serie A u need a mean defence and that is what the Italian game is all about...
on the 1st June, 2012 at 12:44pm
"Never slaves to the results!"

Welcome home il boemo!!!
on the 1st June, 2012 at 12:11pm
Being relatively young and not really around for his first spell at La Magica I can't pretend to know much about Zeman but what I have heard is worrying.

Luis failed due to his lack of focus on defence, surely the answer is not another coach who favours attack? Roma has been prone to defensive lapses for years now and we really need a solid defensive basis to build on if we are to challenge again. Defence is not like attack where a moment of Totti brilliance is going to win us a game...
on the 1st June, 2012 at 12:10pm

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