It was only 10 days ago that some Roma fans were calling for Paulo Fonseca’s head.
Three consecutive defeats to Milan, Udinese and Napoli left the Giallorossi at risk of tumbling out of the Europa League spots and piled pressure on the Portuguese coach.
The rage being directed Fonseca’s way even caused club president James Pallotta – an even bigger target of fan fury – to tweet that the boss had his “full support”. “Fonseca’s future is not in doubt,” he wrote.
All along, suggestions of a coaching change seemed unlikely and unreasonable.
Fonseca hasn’t had the easiest debut season in charge of the Giallorossi to say the least, with endless injury problems hindering his progress – not least the lengthy lay-off of star man Nicolo Zaniolo.
Additionally, there has been no end of instability off the pitch, between the sacking of sporting director Gianluca Petrachi and drawn-out negotiations over a potential club takeover.
But the former Shakhtar Donetsk boss has flipped his team’s form on its head over the last fortnight, responding to the hat-trick of defeats with three victories in a row.
Fonseca may even have their latest victim, Hellas Verona, to thank for inspiring the formation change that has helped the Lupi turn a corner.
Roma switched to the 3-4-2-1 formation that Hellas have used so effectively this season to spark their revival.
Fonseca first deployed the system against Parma, his side subsequently stopping the rot with a 2-1 victory, and he has now enjoyed further victories over Brescia and Verona.
It’s clearly still a work in progress, but there have been reasons for optimism going forward, not least the form of centre-back Roger Ibanez.
The 21-year-old joined the Giallorossi from Atalanta in a low-key January move, and has come into his own since the break.
Against Verona, he was a thorn in the side of Juric’s attack as he showed great anticipation to cut out dangerous forays and ensure he was always positioned in the right place.
Ibanez’s form, and the formation change, have helped Roma concede two goals in three matches – the same amount they shipped in one game against Udinese just two weeks ago.
They were ceded possession to the visitors on Wednesday, soaking up pressure before launching rapid counter-attacks, and the strategy worked effectively as they produced the better chances.
Although Verona will be unhappy about penalty decisions, Roma created far more in the game, hitting the post and squandering at least three more promising opportunities in the second half.
Perhaps it’s time for the #FonsecaOut gang to hold their hands up and admit they were wrong.
They’ve at least been silenced; if you search for the hashtag on Twitter now, you’ll find it’s only been used once in the last week.
The 47-year-old has fought back with tactical innovation, finding a solution to his team’s problem rather than getting emotional about the often unfair criticism.
Patience is always a virtue, particularly with a coach coming to Serie A for the first time, but it’s rarely something afforded by the demanding Roma fan base.
But Fonseca deserves credit for turning things around and restoring a four-point cushion in fifth place.
Silencing the trolls will be a nice boost, but the real cherry on top would be proving the turnaround isn’t temporary with a result against Inter on Sunday.