Wednesday January 16 2013
Roma squad better than its team

If Roma want to kick-start their season then Zdenek Zeman will have to start picking the club’s most talented players, argues Antonio Labbate.

“I don’t choose players depending on how much they earn. I look at what the squad needs. If we select a team based on wages then I don’t know whether we would win.” Zdenek Zeman’s words, on Sunday, as he justified his decision to again bench Daniele De Rossi in a game at Catania which Roma lost 1-0.

If Roma were fighting for the title, or even seriously challenging for the top three, then you could allow the Czech tactician the luxury of dropping the League’s joint highest earner. But they’re not. The Giallorossi are sixth in the standings, 13 points behind leaders Juventus and eight shy of third-placed Napoli who have been deducted two points this season.

What Zeman has failed to realise is that, generally, a club’s wage bill reflects the quality of player. De Rossi is on €6m a season, after tax, for a reason – and not just because he’s a Roman. It’s the same argument for Nicolas Burdisso and Miralem Pjanic, who along with Francesco Totti, are the four most handsomely paid players in the capital.

Yet De Rossi, Burdisso and Pjanic have all had problems in being selected by a tactician whose stubborn loyalty to 4-3-3 is not getting the best out of the squad which he has available to him. While other Serie A tacticians have opted to change systems over the last 18 months, which have resulted in improved performances and results, Zeman continues his quest in trying to get his brand of football – which has never been concrete enough to win any major honours – accepted.

The trio of Alessandro Florenzi, Panagiotis Tachtsidis and Michael Bradley, when fielded simultaneously, are not the midfield unit of a top-three side. They would be more in line of a Chievo or a Catania, not a club who are targeting a return to the Champions League.

While Zeman should be applauded for aiding the explosion of 18-year-old defender Marcos Marquinhos, the development of midfielder Florenzi, the consecration of Erik Lamela and the fifth-coming of Totti, he has done little more during his second stint at the Olimpico. That has made them the biggest under-achievers of the season so far.

The only other positive of a club who seemingly have no present and are led by a Coach with hardly a past, is that they have a bright future. While Vincent Candela’s recent assertion that Roma have the best squad in Serie A was overly influenced by his history and love for the club, he was right to be impressed by the personnel available to Zeman.

Director general Franco Baldini and sporting director Walter Sabatini may have hired the wrong Coach for two successive summers now – after the needless Luis Enrique gamble – but their market dealings have laid the foundations for a competitive side.

Sure they’ve got things wrong, but that was inevitable when you bring in so many new faces and then change the style of play on not one, but two occasions. The decision to sell Fabio Borini to finance Mattia Destro can also be questioned, but the squad now has a number of players born in the 1990s who can become pillars of future success. Destro included.

That will obviously take time, but it will also need the right technical project and a Coach who finds a system to suit the characteristics of his best players. More precisely, a boss whose initial job at Trigoria would be to find room in his starting XI for firstly Daniele De Rossi and then Miralem Pjanic.  

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Have your say...
Exactly! This Adriano guy below talks a lot of sense. Zeman is not qualified to manage a team like Roma. We need a winner in charge, not a stubborn old man who despite his age, fails to understand that football isn't just about "fancy football". What's the point in entertaining the fans in the stadium, just so they can go home and see that we've dropped even further down the table?!!! It's ridiculous. Personally, I just want him out of my club. Bring in a manager who is known as "a champion".
on the 27th January, 2013 at 8:36pm
Zeman has been a disaster. plain & simple. but it's not like we hav'nt seen this before from him..... he refuses to play with a decent defence, leaves out his best players, never rests Totti in every game who is still great despite his age but cannot play every game at 36, & his tactics have never changed in over 25 years in Italy.
he was brought in to do the exact opposite that Luis Enrique did last season but has made the same errors.
he was clearly taken in solely to appease the fans....
on the 20th January, 2013 at 6:53pm
on the 19th January, 2013 at 4:29am
You Riomma fans make me laugh!! All this talk of the Roma 'Project'!!! Does this include paying players like De Rossi more than any other player in Serie A?! And giving Totti 3 times the salary that Klose receives? Lazio are the model of a financially stable club, not bank rolled by some here today, gone tomorrow Mickey Mouse owner. Lazio are in joint second place because they buy players that are hungry and professional, not hot heads like Osvaldo who thinks he is suddenly Batistuta mark II
on the 18th January, 2013 at 11:54am
Massi you show a lack of respect. We are in a transition period, but will grow and next season could be our year. You are very bitter, talk is cheap, win something this year before you put lazio as some kind of world beaters. Reality is lazio are a decent team but way off being a great team.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 6:30am
Zeman plays 3-4-3 , hole mother of juses it must have been the end of the world as we know it . i don't want to waste my word responding to these nonsense comments , how in the earth Pjanic with 6m transfer fee is considered overpriced? Lol
Roma have a long term project in hand that totally different from Lazio , yes players like Klose can carry a team on their back duo to their experience and quality of play , but is that what Italian football need? i dont think so
on the 17th January, 2013 at 11:53pm
Roma are a second rate team, in the same category as Genoa, Sampdoria and Palermo these days. Their victory last night was great, they will now waste another two games against Inter where they will surely lose.

Another season in Lazio's shadow, poor poor Riomma...
on the 17th January, 2013 at 4:46pm
A vital win last night. Missing totti, Osvaldo and lamela as well. We showed as lot of heart last night. Proud of my team. Looking forward to facing Juve in the final. Inter wont be easy but I think we can beat them. Now we need to beat Inter on sunday, another massive game. Osvaldo, Totti, Lamela and Destro is the best strike force in serie A by a mile.
on the 17th January, 2013 at 10:51am
Although this is off topic, I don't see why Roma, or any of the other big clubs in Serie A aren't bidding for the likes of M'vila or Remy who look set for the premier league. These are quality, young, international players at reported prices of £8 million and £6 million. I know money in Serie A is short, but we're not talking big money at all. Another one would be Hugo Lloris who moved for 8 million. Promoting youth is essential, but picking up quality bargains will also help improve the league
on the 17th January, 2013 at 1:12am
Obviously the author of the article hasn't watched De Rossi much this season. I've watched every single Roma match and De Rpssi's been terrible in most of them and it had nothing to do with the formation. Lazy, erratic passing, lackluster covering of the defence, slowing the game too much against Zeman's wishes. The only reason he's started so many matches is his name.
Burdisso currently is simply not in the same class as Marquinhos and Castan, so he doesn't play.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 11:28pm
Daniele De Rossi has to play, that's the long and short of it! Poor form this season? You sure, coming off a great summer with Italy2012 probably his personal best international tournament up to date he destroyed everyone he came across even while playing centre back! Starts the season absolutely fine still gets dropped? But when called up for international qualifiers he scores in both games yet still gets dropped? I cannot understand zeman honestly? If he was to leave everyone would regret it!
on the 16th January, 2013 at 9:05pm
I like Zeman a great deal and fully appreciate and respect his philsophy and commitment to youthful attacking football. However, his treatment of Pjanic and De Rossi is baffling - he needs to accomodate both of them into the starting eleven, or sadly he will pay the price. Which I feel shall be a great shame, as he is developing an interesting and exciting project - a venture that needs to be given time and space if it's to ever bear any fruit.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 7:39pm
Finally, someone hit the nail on the head with Zeman. This squad is really frustrating to watch. Roma can dispatch of teams like Inter and Milan no problem, yet they can't get a result at teams like Chievo or Catania. His use of Panagotis over DDR is mind boggling. Zeman is too predictable with 4-3-3. Yes they score a lot of goals sometimes but they also conceed plenty too. He needs to switch formations from time to time. The last time roma won a scudetto they had the best defense in serie a.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 7:27pm
This article is 100% how I feel about Roma and Zeman. The man is a fool and I am surprised the Roma board haven't got rid of him yet. Bring in Alberto De Rossi to take care of the team until summer when Montella or Morinhio are free to take the job. Although I'd much prefer an Italian manager.
Zeman out!!!!!
on the 16th January, 2013 at 6:42pm
I cannot totally agree with Labbate. Benching De Rossi and Pjanic was a result of their poor performance; in many cases they could add nothing to Roma's game when they came on the pitch. Sure, they might be the most valuable players in the squad, still, they keep under-achieving, only with a few exceptions. Also, we shouldn't forget the fact that dozens of questionable referee decisions have contributed to the poor results this season, much more than any other team had to bear.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 5:24pm
Why the hell did they send Rosi on loan for Piris in any case? I don't understand that move at all. I think Rosi offered more, plus he is more acquainted with the league than Piris. I'm not bashing Piris, but I'm saying that players have been switched for no proper reason. It's better to keep someone who is familiar with the setup than to trade them for some who, at best, is equal in skill, but is not familiar with the setup.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 5:22pm
Zeman is crazy. I hate coaches who try to re-invent the wheel. Whenever the team loses, De Rossi gets dropped. Destro is firing blanks but some how, it's de Rossi's fault. I think that their best midfield is DDR, Pjanic and Bradley. Maybe even add a fourth person to the midfield to make it thicker and harder to penetrate for opposing teams.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 4:53pm
I really am losing patience with Zeman rather rapidly. Yes, he plays attacking football which gets the odd spectacular result and his physical preparation has worked wonders with Totti this season. However he seems intent on driving our best/most established players out of the door. If you put a spine of Steklenburg, Burdisso, De Rossi and Totti then the young players should flourish around that. Stek is being linked with Barca and Milan. If goicochea is better why aren't these clubs in for him?
on the 16th January, 2013 at 4:37pm
Franco, that defence looks leakier than the Titanic!! Also how can Riomma play with Lamela, Osvaldo and Totti when none of them are willing to get back and help the defence? Riomma are a bunch of overpaid, overrated individuals that have achieved nothing, they will finish below Juve, Lazio, Napoli, Inter, Fiorentina, Milan and Udinese this season, yet idiots will keep saying what a great team they are!! Ha ha ha
on the 16th January, 2013 at 4:19pm
you are rite arjen , selling pjanic & DDR will be suicidal .
on the 16th January, 2013 at 3:57pm
If u put roma's best starting 11 on the pitch there have easily one of the most best teams in europe in terms of quality. They should of got montella, but that ship has sailed because why would you leave fiorentina now ? thats club is going places.

my roma staring 11:

piris marquinhos castan balzaretti
pjanic de rossi florenzi
lamela osvaldo totti

zeman knows this but he is being stubborn
on the 16th January, 2013 at 3:49pm
It's not Zeman that's the problem, it's because the northern clubs have such influence over the powers that be. It's not because he's a stubborn old man who stirrs controversy at every opportunity and drops big players to show he's even bigger! I am really enjoying seeing him get found out again, but I'm sure he'll be the first to say its not his fault ;) Roma should find a good manager to take over for the long term and breed all these talents through. A happy juventus fan :)
on the 16th January, 2013 at 3:01pm
Massi, Lazio are much more organised and more tactically astute than Roma. Petkovic is my coach of the season so far, he gets Lazio to play with terrific urgency, hunger, & consistency.

However, when it comes to individual talent, Roma are well ahead. Lazio's most gifted players are Hernanes & Klose, but I rate Roma's counterparts Totti & Osvaldo higher than those two.

I'm really surprised that Roma never looked at Guidolin, he is a great coach, & is terribly underrated.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 2:48pm
Give me a minute while I google to see who this Zeman fellow is...

Seriously I thought this guy was god's gift to young & growing players when all he's done is alienate his top players to show them who's boss/zemanlandia.

Playing attacking football without a conscious for defence because its more attractive/exciting to watch is like going all out on a war without a plan or strategy, just to put a show.

I have no doubt Roma have a side capable of making the top 3, but without Zemanlandia...
on the 16th January, 2013 at 2:32pm
@'Massi fed

"Loose is the most efficient striker in Europe at the moment".

Really???? haha no he's nowhere close of being that.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 2:14pm
In response to Massi, both Roma and Lazio are equal. We wont win anything this year and neither will you. Klose the most efficient striker in europe, thats a good one, more efficient than Van Persie, Cavani, Di Natale etc. Lazio fans are deluded, it wont be long before their season starts to falter and then they will all go quiet.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 1:06pm
Marquinhos and Castan have been much better than Burdisso, Pjanic has played when fit an De Rossi doesn't follow Zeman's orders on the field.

It's almost simple.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 1:04pm
Tonights game is massive.Praying we win. Missing Totti, Osvaldo and Lamela is a real blow to us. We need Destro on top of his game. De rossi needs to be playing. We need leaders and he is quality. This season has been terrible. I will always support my team, but Zemans football doesnt work and he wont change. Results are what matters. I agree with Michele, the way we play we would be knackered in europe. Also Zeman tactics leave us badly exposed in serie A, in europe we would be destroyed.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 12:30pm
There isn't one Roma player that would get into the current Lazio team. Marchetti - Stek / Goic? - No Contest Konko / Biava / Dias / Radu - Roma don't do defence Hernanes - Totti - Hernanes has scored 10 and can run Ledesma - De Rossi - One plays and controls every game Candreva / Lulic / Gonzalez - much more consistent and effective than Bradley / Tachsidis / Pjanic Klose - Osvaldo / Destro / Lamela - Klose is the most efficient striker in Europe right now... Roma = OVERRATED
on the 16th January, 2013 at 12:28pm
I agree with all points except Burdisso. As much as I admire his determination, as a player, Marquinhos has taken his place in the starting 11.

I am a big fan of ZZ and would love to see him at any club, except my Roma. His game is best suited to getting the most out of youngsters and overachieving with a mediocre team - not competing for the top three.

Can you imagine how his tactics would leave the team exposed in Europe? How exhausted they would be having to compete on multiple fronts?
on the 16th January, 2013 at 11:57am

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