Published On: Fri, Mar 15th, 2013

De Rossi needs to step up for Roma

When Zdenek Zeman showed up at AS Roma for a second stint in charge, many questioned whether he would have a role for Francesco Totti.

Daniele De Rossi tussles with Hernanes

Daniele De Rossi tussles with Hernanes

The Roma captain, now 36 years old, was not seen as the hard working, gritty player favoured by the Czech coach. Despite this, Totti soon became a pivotal element of Zeman’s team and one of the coach’s most vocal supporters. Daniele De Rossi, on the other hand, was relegated to the bench.

When Zeman was announced as Roma coach in July 2012, there was no reason to believe De Rossi would not play a key role in the team. The Roman born midfielder had recently prolonged his contract and professed his undying love for both his club and city. A few weeks into the Czech’s tenure, De Rossi even complemented Zeman and said; “I thought he would be a misery guts, but instead I’ve discovered a pleasant person with whom I get on well.” However the relationship soon soured.

Zeman has always had a preference for young players, blank canvases which can be taught to believe in his fast paced, attacking football. In an attempt to instil this philosophy at Roma, he brought a number of youngsters into the first team. Players such as Alessio Florenzi, Panagiotis Tachtsidis and Mauro Goicoechea.

Zeman also demands that everyone on the team give their all in training. Something which he publically accused De Rossi, as well as Pablo Osvaldo, of not doing. As a result, De Rossi spent much of his time under Zeman sitting on the bench. With Zeman now on gardening leave, and new coach Aurelio Andreazzoli prepared to reinstate him as midfield general, De Rossi has another chance to demonstrate his worth.

Six years ago, De Rossi was arguably one of the world’s best midfielders. He had all the combative qualities needed to shield a defence, fused with the technique of a play maker. During this period the Spanish press christened him “Gattuso dressed in Armani”. Since 2010, his performances have deteriorated dramatically and the new lease of life which he discovered as a deep-lying playmaker under Luis Enriqué, disappeared when Zeman showed up.

There are numerous possible reasons for this. Professionally, De Rossi may have been frustrated with his team’s inability to clinch the Scudetto, despite coming second four times between 2006 and 2010. He has also seen a number of the team’s best players sold and, in some cases, go on to win important trophies. In terms of his personal life, he went through a divorce and has been accused of not living a lifestyle worthy of an athlete.

Recent performances against Genoa and Juventus hinted that De Rossi was on the right path towards recapturing his best form.  However, his lacklustre performance at the Stadio Friuli, last Saturday, is proof that he is still a long way off the replicating the exploits that have seen him linked to every  major European club. With the team still technically in the race for third place, De Rossi needs to step up and prove that Roma has two captains.

Follow Michele Martinelli on Twitter: @greatbites

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