Roma Club Focus: The Giallorossi’s Season in Review
If there was one thing that Roma fans knew to expect from the 2012/13 season, it was not knowing what to expect. After the failure of the Luis Enrique experiment, Zdenek Zeman was brought in from a brilliant season with Pescara to bring Zemanlandia back to Rome. The Giallorossi management were so keen to tie il Boemo down that he signed a two-year contract rather than his usual one-year deal.
The season began in unconvincing fashion as only a late Nico Lopez goal saved a draw in the opening game against Catania, but there was real excitement in the capital after Inter were dispatched at San Siro the following week.
The fervour didn’t last though and it was more than a month before Roma won again (on the pitch at least, as they were awarded the 3-0 win against Cagliari). There was no shortage of goals as they flowed in at both ends, but there was no consistency either and early season hope evaporated into frustration at seeing the same errors repeated game after game.
After just 12 games, the pressure was already growing on Zeman as Roma lost against Lazio again to leave them closer to the relegation zone than a Champions League place. The mood going into the winter break was far more optimistic though as Roma won five of their next six, including two spectacular 4-2 wins against Fiorentina and Milan that rekindled hopes that Zemanlandia was on its way, and ended the year four points off second place.
Unfortunately for Roma and Zeman, things unravelled at a sickening speed in 2013. The Giallorossi picked up just two points from the next five games and after a 3-3 draw against struggling Bologna, Roma imploded completely with a 4-2 defeat at home to Cagliari. A few supporters still clung to the hope that Zeman could turn things around, but the majority were calling for the coach’s head. “Via il boemo” read one banner even during the game, and the next day the Roma management decided to axe the coach in an effort to save the season and replaced him with Aurelio Andreazzoli.
Despite some positive performances, notably the 1-0 win against Juventus, Andreazzoli’s Roma often looked short of ideas in attack and lifeless in midfield. The team’s mentality was also called into question after awful performances at Palermo (0-2) and at home to Pescara (1-1). As the league season limped towards its conclusion, only the Coppa Italia looked to provide some sort of silver lining. A 5-3 aggregate win against Inter set up an all-Roman final against Lazio, which was billed as an all-or-nothing game for both teams.
And, for Roma, it was nothing. Clearly nervous and far from at their best, Roma rarely threatened to score either before or after Senad Lulic’s goal. Pablo Osvaldo ended the season as only he knew with another public spat with Andreazzoli; despite ending the season as the team’s top scorer in all competitions, his attitude and numerous confrontations with team-mates have alienated him from large sections of supporters. With no European football again and two failed coaching appointments, James Pallotta and the club management know this summer they have to get things right if the much feted project is ever to get off the ground.
Player of the Season
For an 18-year-old to make such an impression in his first season in a new country and playing for a coach who regarded defending as an unfortunate interruption to attacking, the player of the season has to be Marquinhos. The defender arrived on loan from Corinthians to little fanfare, expected to be the alternative to the centre back pairing of Nicolas Burdisso and Leandro Castan.
Not only did the Brazilian waste little time in displacing Burdisso from the side as he adapted instantly to life in Serie A, his reading of the game and positional sense showed a maturity far beyond his years. Such was the impression that he made that he was withdrawn from the Brazil squad for the Under-20 Championships in January in order that he remained available for the first team.
As always, a worthy mention to the magisterial Francesco Totti, who performed wherever Zeman or Andreazzoli decided to play him. Totti passed Giuseppe Meazza and Jose Altafini in the scoring charts early in the season before overhauling Gunnar Nordahl to become Serie A’s second all time top scorer, while his play in general still leaves Giallorossi fans wondering just where Roma would be without their talisman.
Goal of the Season
It’s difficult not to nominate Totti’s thunderbolt against Juventus, but after the goal-that-never-was-but-should-have-been against Lecce, it has to be this effort from Pablo Osvaldo against Catania back in August.
Best and Worst Signings
The best signing has to be Marquinhos, showing class and maturity at the back despite playing in the fourth worst defence in the league. One of the jewels of this Roma team. Honourable mentions to Ivan Piris, who was dependable and versatile after a shaky start, and the inexhaustible Alessandro Florenzi, who justified Roma’s determination in bringing him back from Crotone.
Unquestionably the worst signing was Mauro Goicoechea, brought in on loan from Danubio on deadline day. Somehow persuading Zeman that he was a superior keeper to Maarten Stekelenburg, Goicoechea’s performances went from adequate to awful, culminating with a catastrophic own goal against Cagliari.