After the “project” failed miserably, it is the dawn of a new era for the second year running in Rome.
A lowly seventh place finish last campaign, meant that the Roma faithful finally ran out of patience with the Barca-esque “project” and Luis Enrique resigned. It’s back to basics for A.S Roma this season, Zdenek Zemen is back at the helm and alongside Franco Baldini for the first time since 1999. There is new air optimism around the Stadio Olimpico, the Giallorossi have had a mercato to remember and seem to be building a team as capable as the class of ’01. With attacking options galore, Roma are destined to be the Serie A’s most exciting team next season and also one of the most successful. 2012/13 maybe a season too soon for a title challenge, but a Champions League spot is very achievable.
Manager: Zdenek Zemen
Roma’s new manager Zdenek Zemen, is a chain smoking, abuse throwing, Juventus hating, miracle making, ground breaking… genius.
Zemen’s return to the peak of calcio has been long overdue. After a number of years out of the limelight, the Czech national rose to prominence in the Peninsula once again after guiding Pescara from mid-table obscurity, to the Serie A in 2011/12 with an incredible 90 goals. The offer from A.S Roma this summer, was one that he “could not turn down” and with Di Benedetto craving attacking football, Zemen seems like the perfect man for the job. His famed 4-3-3 and outscore the opponent philosophy, means that his teams are exciting but tend to concede an unnatural amount of goals. Zemen is also famed for nurturing young talents, Totti during his first tenure at Roma and Signori at Foggia, are just two of the players who benefited from the 65 year old’s trust in youth. There is a lot of optimism for young players such as Lamela, Destro and Bojan, that are currently at Roma because Zemen’s insistence on using a blend of youth an experience in his sides. Although the Czech manager’s tactics are extremely ground breaking, his training methods are old fashioned as they include running up stadium steps, laps of the pitch etc. Zdenek Zemen’s Roma will undoubtedly be Serie A’s greatest attraction next season; expect high scoring wins, and even higher scoring defeats.
Key Player: Erik Lamela
Erik Lamela’s first season in Italy was more controversial than inspiring; the Argentine will be hoping for the opposite next season.
A player with undoubted ability and a much doubted temperament. Signed for a fee of around €18 million, eyebrows were raised all around Italy. A teenager, with no European footballing experience, does not sound like the sort of player a Serie A side would splash out on. Although Roma have trusted the youngster, he has not lived up to expectations yet. Some impressive performances last season were overshadowed by brawls with Osvaldo and spitting on Lichsteiner, but it has always been obvious that Lamela has an incredible gift. With a magic left foot, effortless first touch and incredible vision; at only 20 years old, he has the world at his feet. Under the guidance of Zdenek Zemen, I believe that the Argentine can become the Serie A’s newest star as Zemen’s managerial style, will allow him to become an integral part of the attack. The 2012/13 season, is an opportunity for Erik Lamela to show his worth; if he does, expect Real Madrid to be eyeing him up next summer.
Best Signing: Michael Bradley
In today’s mercato, there is not much that a club can get for €4 million. An average Championship player, maybe even a mid-table quality defender, is the best a club could normally get for such a minuscule fee; so how on earth did Roma sign Michael Bradley for €4 million?
The American international came of age last season at Chievo Verona. After a number of years of obscurity in Germany and England, Michael Bradley proved that he was worth the hype he was given at a young age. A tenacious midfielder, who is also very comfortable in possession, is what Roma needed; and that’s exactly what they got. Alongside De Rossi and Pjanic, the 25 year old will likely be a key component in one of the best midfields in Italy, and with such a small transfer fee compared the money forked out for the likes of Destro; there will be very little pressure on Bradley’s shoulders. You would have to search long and hard, to find a signing as good as Bradley this mercato.
Footballmatters’ Season Prediction: 4th
Under Zdenek Zemen, it is almost impossible to predict how A.S Roma will fare in the Serie A next season.
They are a side with a huge amount of talent in the attacking areas, but there is still a need for a truly world class central defender. With Zemen’s tactic of all out attack, Roma will leak a huge amount of goals next season; to have a great campaign Baldini must address this in the mercato. Roma are a team capable of doing great things, they have showed real potential during their tour of the U.S; but could just as easily win the league as miss out on European football altogether. No matter what the results are Roma for next season; calcio will enjoy watching.