De Rossi’s dynamic Roma brings light and hope after storm Mourinho

<span>Daniele De Rossi has <a href=Roma to prize possession and hold a higher line – and get them back in the race for a place in the Champions League.Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 4e5ba1d60be” data-src= “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 1d60be”/>

Don’t tell Daniele De Rossi that his team played well against Inter. “I am a footballing son of Luciano Spalletti,” said the Roma manager after Saturday’s 4-2 defeat. “He would never accept compliments after a loss because that’s how you fall into mediocrity.”

Still, we can probably say it here. For 45 minutes on Saturday, Roma were outstanding, going toe-to-toe with the Serie A leaders as few have done all season. The match had barely started when Stephan El Shaarawy forced Yann Sommer into a fingertip save. Inter then took the lead through a Francesco Acerbi header, but goals from Gianluca Mancini and El Shaarawy put Roma ahead at halftime.

When the last of them went in, with the ball splashing in through both posts under a heavy rain shower, De Rossi grinned and roared on the touchline, soaked in a suit jacket that never stood a chance. He looked like a man in his element, and why wouldn’t he? This is the job he dreamed of from the moment he retired as a player.

In 2010, De Rossi claimed he had “only one regret: that I could only give Roma one career”. Fourteen years later he gets a second chance. When the club’s American owners, The Friedkin Group, lost patience early this year due to declining results and José Mourinho’s escalating polemics, they turned to De Rossi to save their season.

At first glance, that might seem like a desperate call for nostalgia. De Rossi played for Roma for almost twenty years, but his only coaching experiences were as assistant to Roberto Mancini with the national team, and then a brief and unsuccessful spell as manager of Spal in Serie B, where he was sacked after winning three . 17 games.

However, seen from another angle, he was the only candidate who had a chance. Despite Mourinho’s disappointing domestic results – his 1.61 points per game are the lowest of any Roma manager whose tenure in the three-for-a-win era has seen more than 50 games played – consecutive European finals and ‘us against the world’ rhetoric ensured that he earned the eternal loyalty of many followers.

Following him might have been a thankless task for another manager, but not for De Rossi. He had nothing to fear from fans who were there every step of his journey, from graduating from the academy to ‘Capitan Futuro’ and finally inheriting the armband from Francesco Totti.

De Rossi has always been that way one of them, another advantage because it meant he could walk in on day one with concrete ideas about what needed to be solved. He was a regular at Roma matches until reports began to spread that Mourinho’s job was in jeopardy. At that point, he chose to stay away so as not to feed the rumor mill.

Publicly and privately, De Rossi backed the Portuguese, highlighting how he had brought the fanbase together. But that didn’t mean you had to agree with every tactical choice. De Rossi immediately changed the formation from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3, allowing him to deploy El Shaarawy on the left side of the attack: a runner who could provide another threat to Paulo Dybala on the other side. .

Roma players were encouraged to value possession and maintain a higher line. A team that had won just two of their last seven games under Mourinho and had dropped to ninth in the table, took maximum points from De Rossi’s first three games in charge.

It helped that they happened to be against the bottom three. Yet there were signs that a new energy was emerging. Lorenzo Pellegrini, Roma’s newest homegrown captain, scored in all three matches, more than doubling his tally for this Serie A season. After 2-1 victories over Verona and Salernitana, Roma defeated Cagliari 4-0.

De Rossi emphasized that “any team in the world can be beaten, even Inter”. His players bought in. Nineteen points separated the leaders from Roma before kick-off, but you wouldn’t have known that from the way the match started.

Only in the second half did Inter assert its superiority. They equalized almost immediately after the restart, Nicolò Barella and Benjamin Pavard giving too much space as they combined before the latter crossed the ball for Marcus Thuram to score. In the 56th minute, a Henrikh Mkhitaryan center was punched into his own net by Angeliño.

After a brave attacking display in the first half, De Rossi’s Roma had revealed their soft underbelly. Yet they maintained a threat. They should have pulled back in the 70th minute when an off-balance Pellegrini played a sensational half-field pass between Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni. Romelu Lukaku, one on one with Sommer, had the ball taken from his toes by the goalkeeper.

Inter’s last goal came in stoppage time, with Roma pushing too hard for the equalizer. As De Rossi acknowledged, the Nerazzurri ‘nothing stolen’. Still, a draw wouldn’t have felt like an unfair outcome either.

Roma’s optimistic football, going for victory against the best team in the league, was a sharp contrast to the consistently defensive and still unsuccessful approach seen against top domestic rivals during Mourinho’s tenure. This also applied to De Rossi’s comments after the match.

There were three Inter players in an offside position due to Acerbi’s goal and one, Thuram, in shoulder-to-shoulder contact with Rui Patricio. The referees ruled that no one was directly involved in the play as the header flew to the opposite corner and the goalkeeper was able to attempt to save the ball unhindered. De Rossi reflected that the offside rule as written contains ambiguities that lead to it being applied inconsistently, “but for my idea of ​​football that is a goal”.

The Friedkins will have welcomed that measured response. It is difficult to imagine Mourinho reacting in the same way in his final Roman chapter, when a new feud seemed to arise every week. But the owners’ top priority is to return their club to the Champions League, as it has been since taking charge in 2020.

It remains a plausible goal for this season. Even after Saturday’s defeat, De Rossi has moved Roma up to sixth in the table – four points behind fourth and just one point shy of fifth, which could still be good enough to qualify for next season the extensive European top competition.

The situation is precarious. Despite Mourinho’s regular laments about being outmatched in the transfer market by rival clubs, the reality is that Roma are still trying to balance the books after spending more than €130 million during his first year at the club and continues to add big earners like Dybala. and Lukaku, while they have since made a net profit on prepaid fees in transfer windows.

Further cuts in wage costs will be necessary to stay in line with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play requirements. This means greater dependence on young, home-grown talent. Here too, De Rossi could be a good match. His father, Alberto, coached in the club’s academy system for 25 years and became Roma’s head of youth coach development in 2022.

But first and foremost, the younger De Rossi must prove that he can compete at this level. His contract only runs until the end of the season. “I am convinced that this is a strong team, with important players,” he said when asked after taking the job why he had not tried to include an extension option in the deal.

“Strong teams can have difficult moments, that has always happened. But I think we have everything we need to get back up. So we don’t need parachutes. We just need this wonderful opportunity that we have.”

Milan 1-0 Napoli, Genoa 1-4 Atalanta, Bologna 4-0 Lecce, Monza 0-0 Verona, Fiorentina 5-1 Frosinone, Sassuolo 1-1 Torino, Roma 2-4 Inter, Cagliari 1-3 Lazio, Salernitana 1 -3 Empoli.

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