The dust has not settled in the Eternal City. After a convulsive week that included a demoralizing derby defeat and a farcical elimination from the Coppa Italia, Saturday’s wild 4-3 win over Spezia was a much-needed pick-me-up.
While that thrilling triumph will have given the Friedkins some crucial clarity regarding the next steps to take, it also presents them with a puzzling dilemma. Changes must be made in the dugout and on the pitch, but the question is when.
Paulo Fonseca is perched on the hottest of seats, but Lorenzo Pellegrini’s last-minute winner has given him at least a temporary stay of execution. The Portuguese was surely set for the sackuntil that dramatic strike, with Massimiliano Allegri the frontrunner to take his place.
The Livorno-born tactician could still be on his way to the Italian capital, and such an outcome would definitely delight Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian bomber and Fonseca have reportedly been at odds since last August’s tame Europa League exit to Sevilla, with his manager’s willingness to offload him in the offseason another bone of contention.
An already tense relationship reached breaking point following the cup catastrophe, with Dzeko apparently left out of Saturday’s squad as a disciplinary measure. Such a situation is not sustainable, and it seems that the Friedkins may be forced to choose between star striker and head coach.
Dan and Ryan are caught between a rock and a hard place. They are unlikely to get a sizable sum for Dzeko given his massive salary (tied for 3rd-highest paid player in Serie A at €7.5 million net a season) and advanced age, while his role as club captain complicates matters even further. On the other hand, Fonseca has the Giallorossi installed inside the top four at the campaign’s midway point.
Booking a return to the Champions League was always the main objective this term, and the 47-year old is currently on track to achieve that aim. Furthermore, the rousing response to Spezia’s late equalizer suggests that his players are still behind him.
That spirit of togetherness was summed up by Pellegrini’s embrace with Fonseca at full-time. The hometown hero was once again at the heart of everything good that his team did going forward, with his goal just rewards for a swashbuckling showing. Keeping their key creator content should be at the forefront of the Friedkins’ minds.
Bringing in a new boss could further destabilize the dressing room amidst a tight top four tussle, but that is a risk worth taking if Allegri’s signature can be secured. Such a capture would represent a serious statement of intent from La Lupa’s American proprietors, and the former Juventus and Milan mister’s title-winning experience would be a boon to a club that haven’t laid their hands on silverware since 2008.
Fonseca’s football is pretty on the eye, but it’s difficult to envision trophies being added to a dusty Giallorossi cabinet given the recurrent defensive deficiencies that have marked his tenure. Roma have already reached their ceiling with the Portuguese; the sky would be the limit with Allegri in charge.