Should Zeman have been given until the end of the season?
It was a sad day for calcio fans all around the world with the Giallorossi, without doubt, the most entertaining team in Serie A and possibly even in Europe this season. Of course part of this was due to the horrific defending by Roma and also the ultra attacking tactics that made the Czech coach so famous.
Much hype surrounded the return of Zemanlandia to Trigoria this summer after inspiring Pescara to the Serie B title the previous year, many Romanisti dreamed of the Scudetto in the ex Lecce manager’s second spell in charge.
It was a courageous decision by the American owners especially after going for a similar manager in Luis Enrique last season which also ended in him being shown the door. However, it was not to go to plan for the Giallorossi as they fluctuated from attacking brilliance to comical defending, that eventually led to the end of Zemanlandia in Rome.
Opinion was polarised after the sacking of the 65 year old, with many believing it was justified, but others were of the opinion that he should have at very least been allowed to see out the season in Rome, just as Enrique was, who had similar results and problems during his spell in charge.
As always in a Zeman team the emphasis was on attack, and he had arguably the best attack in Serie A with Francesco Totti, Pablo Osvaldo and Lamela all in scintillating form this season scoring 29 goals between them so far.
Totti started on the left of Zemans famous 4-3-3 and was allowed to play a free roaming role which resulted in some of the best form of his career, scoring eight goals, as well as earning eight assists.
Osvaldo wasn’t always in the news for the right reasons last season, after grabbing the headlines for punching his teammate Lamela, but this season he has been making the headlines for all the right reasons, scoring 11 goals, including some world class strikes, in particular his goal against Inter, in a 1-3 away victory at the Guiseppe Meazza in the second game of the current season.
Lamela has been extremely impressive and looks to be proving why Roma decided to splash the cash on him last season. His quick feet and ability to beat his man have caused defences havoc this season.
It hasn’t been all doom and gloom for Romanisti this season with Zeman managing to get the best out of many players, including many youngsters such as Erik Lamela, Marquinhos and Alessandro Florenzi, who may have not got a chance under another manager, and who, under Zeman, have been successfully integrated into the team.
But as always with the ex Foggia manager there was plenty of problems which ultimately led to his downfall. Without doubt the defence was the main problem for Roma, conceding over 40 goals in 22 matches. Even with one of the best attacks in Europe conceding such a large amount of goals will always cause problems for any team.
He also fell out with club legend Daniele De Rossi, frequently leaving him to rot on the bench on favour for Panagiotis Tachtsidis who was booed by a section of the Roma faithful.
Zeman seemed to have personal problems with the Italian international and claimed that he ‘didn’t play players because of their pay packet’. Seeing their hero constantly left on the bench infuriated many Roma fans, and rumours began to circulate that due to the problems with the coach, Roma were considering selling the Capitano Futuro. Banners from the ultras’ such as ‘De Rossi non si tocca!’ (De Rossi do not touch) became visible, Zeman was fighting a losing battle after benching the midfielder.
He also continuously left Marteen Stekelenburg on the bench apparently due to the fact he would only speak English. He opted to play Mauro Goicoechea instead, who made numerous costly mistakes including in the derby against Lazio, and the most recent loss to Cagliari.
The word ‘project’ was continuously thrown around by the Roma hierarchy but they have already consumed two managers in under two seasons so far. Many claimed Zeman was too stubborn and he would never make much needed defensive adjustments. However, it was never going to be a quick fix when they hired Zeman and surely if given time he could of implemented his ideas.
Roma don’t look to be achieving a great by parting company with the Czech and it seems only fair that he was given at least until the end of the season. Maybe it was destined not to be for Zeman on his return to Rome, but one thing is for sure we all hope this is not the end of one of calcio’s great characters.