If we’re being honest, this was never going to be a good season for Roma. Prior to the sales of Radja Nainggolan, Alisson and Kevin Strootman, the Giallorossi looked like a team who, with a few quality signings, could possibly challenge for the Scudetto.
However, the club chose a different path and a case can be made that receiving close to €130m for just three players was a great piece of business. Yet what followed after those sales was a complete farce. The Monchi experiment led to a series of bizarre decisions, which left Roma without proper replacements for any of the aforementioned trio or solutions to other major issues with their squad.
Robin Olsen has been nothing short of a disaster between the sticks and it’s no surprise to see Antonio Mirante taking his spot. Steven N’Zonzi was supposed to bring composure, experience and a winning mentality after his World Cup triumph with France, but strangely the former Sevilla midfielder has often been found guilty of rookie mistakes at key moments of the season. On the other hand, Javier Pastore looks like a shadow of the player who took Serie A by storm at Palermo almost a decade ago, while Davide Santon was never going to solve the Lupi’s full-back problem.
Weighing all this up, can we really say it’s a surprise to see Roma outside of the top four with only one game left? Hardly. In fact, if we take into account all mistakes that the club made during the course of the campaign, some might say the Lupi are overachieving with their current set of players.
The Giallorossi weren’t far off from pulling off the win they needed against Sassuolo as they managed 26 shots at Andrea Consigli’s goal, hitting the woodwork twice. Yet, despite producing one magical save to keep out a Bryan Cristante header in the second half, the Neroverdi No 1 had to make only three other stops during the whole game, which just shows how inefficient Claudio Ranieri’s men were in front of goal.
The game showcased some of the improvements that Ranieri has overseen in the space of only a couple of months as Roma really went for the victory and almost got it. The 67-year-old would have been particularly pleased with the final 15 minutes of the match, when his players raised the tempo, pinned their opponents back in their own half and created plenty of chances. Unlike many of the Lupi’s games under Eusebio Di Francesco, no-one can question the dedication of most players since Ranieri took over.
There is some consolation as Roma have secured a Europa League spot in Serie A, courtesy of Torino’s 4-1 defeat to Empoli. However, it pales in comparison to the significance of Daniele De Rossi’s exit. The midfielder is set to play in a Giallorossi shirt for the last time next week, against Parma at the Olimpico.
Getting rid of De Rossi, after the club sold so many key players last summer and how they parted ways with Francesco Totti the year before, just doesn’t make sense.
Despite his soon-to-be 36 years, Roma need De Rossi because the lack of effort and love for the jersey that some have displayed this season is simply unacceptable. It is understandable that younger players should be blooded but, looking at the current Roma roster, the club should ask themselves - is it really worth keeping N’Zonzi over De Rossi?
The truth is that James Pallotta cannot blame the referees, VAR, the players nor even the coach for the current situation of his team. In fact, management can only be mad at themselves because, just like Ranieri said, Roma are giving up the spine of their team way too easily.