To say that Rome wasn’t built in a day would be much too obvious. As streams of black and white clad supporters jubilantly exited Juventus’ shiny, new, packed to the rafters stadium, a wave of doom engulfed the capital.
Football is all about transformation. Revolution and reformat
ion are constant undercurrents, from cash laden spews across Europe to mass constructions and managerial switches, clubs are obsessed with the idea of cast iron change.
In promising to emulate Barcelona, AS Roma and Luis Enrique have set themselves up for failure. It is only with a sort of FA-like amount of incompetence that any footballing organization can reasonably believe the solution to their many problems is just to “copy the other guy.”
For Barcelona to develop an ideology took years of struggle under Francoist repression, and a generation of ingenuity kick started by one of the great bastions of footballing principle. That Roma believe recruiting a youth coach, Bojan and an Espanyol striker is enough to become Italy’s sexiest outfit is testament to their naivety.
Sure they made triangles – Totti, De Rossi and Pjanic looked quite sharp when combining one touch passes in and around the center circle, but as opponents closed in the ball ran away. The intense pressing game that has become a hallmark of Guardiola’s Barca was absent in Roma’s performance, their lack of pace in all areas would have limited its effectiveness anyway.
While Calgiari approached the match with a clear game plan, Roma were a jumble of malfunctioning parts. The totally unimpressive Pablo Osvaldo looked cumbersome up front, leading a theme of disorientation continued with the introduction of Macro “virtually immobile” Boriello.
Bojan, the only player to have actually trained with Guardiola and company, seems to have brought that cloak of invisibility which served him so well in Catalonia, his impact was minimal.
At left back, Jose Angel got forward with a sort of frequency reminiscent of Dani Alves, but an ill advised header, and then a petulant kick sixty seconds later, made him the main antagonist in Roma’s five minute melt down mid way through the second half.
If comparative performances weren’t enough to highlight the chasm between Roma and Juve, the setting was. Still stained by that unsightly running track, Roma’s Stadio Olimpico echoed the team in its subdued presentation – while there were more goals than empty seats in Turin, one would have had no trouble purchasing entire stands for Roma’s opening day debacle.
The atmosphere at Juventus is calm, focused and optimistic, contrasting starkly to the mutiny already clicking into gear in Rome. Francesco Totti’s influence at the club is becoming more and more unhealthy, and his highly public disgruntlement will only serve to hinder Roma’s progression. However, the real problem lies in the plan. AS Roma should consider themselves an institution in their own right, a proud, historic club, not an Italian outpost of Barcelona’s ever expanding grandeur.
It’s a unique identity which makes Roma great. Instead of looking to the future, perhaps these revolutionaries should draw from the past, build on what has already been achieved. How long it will take for Roma to realize that imported principles take decades to implement it is hard to say, for now the optimistic among fans, staff and players will settle for some time to bask in cliche. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.