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...
You mean he should play his good players? You firebrand!

As fun as Zemen is, you wouldn't want him managing your club if you wanted to win the title. These personal grudges are the reason he was banished from the top flight for so long.

Still, it's only Roma.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 11:53am
A future manager of roma will curse zeman if he realizes pjanic, stekelenburg and de rossi were sold as they didnt fit Zeman.

If Roma wants to build for the furure as they claim, you make sure also your coach realises that and doesnt risk loosing his best players due to his own stubbornness.

If ddr or pjanic dont fit your tactics, you ALTER your tactics, simple as that. And if you dont have apples, you dont bake an apple pie: so if you dont have a regista you dont play with one....
on the 16th January, 2013 at 11:24am
I have to say that I agree very strongly this time with Antonio. Not to field one of the best midfielders in the world in De Rossi is not only stubborn but it is a simple stupidity. More or less the same goes with Pjanic, Burdisso and Stekelenburg. All of them are world class players and that is a fact hardly anyone can argue. Well maybe only Zeman. I suppose he thinks to be somehow better than anyone else in making any player better than well known world class players and wants to underline it.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 11:04am
Well put together piece with good points.
Zeman is great for entertainment value but his stubbornness is detrimental to what could be an excellent Roma team that could compete for the scudetto/top 3.
De Rossi, Pjanic and Burdisso would be starters for many of the top sides in Italy.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 11:03am
Good blog, I agree with all but one thing. Marcos and Castan have been great. Burdisso no longer should be in the Roma side.
on the 16th January, 2013 at 10:53am

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