Guest Blog by Ryan McGinlay (@NewsOfCeltic and @ryanmcginlayy):
Watching my beloved Glasgow Celtic recently has become much more of a chore than it ever has been before. With Rangers out of contention for this season, we are expected to win the Scottish Premiership for the fifth year in a row in a bit of a canter. Yes, the emergence of Aberdeen as a possible title contender has been a wake-up call in a sense but do they really have the resources to compete with us? This brings about the question of whether or not there is a potential for us playing on a bigger stage: The Barclays Premier League.
In my opinion, Celtic would bring about far more positives than negatives in terms of what they would add to the already prestigious line-up of teams in the league such as Chelsea, Arsenal, the two Manchester giants, and of course the emerging teams such as Tottenham and Leicester. Yes, our reputation you could say has been tarnished over the past couple of years with fan trouble in domestic and international competition but in terms of stature I feel that we would be a welcoming fit in the BPL.
If Celtic were to go into the English Premier League in the near future, it would totally revitalise and rejuvenate the Parkhead faithful. It is no secret that our crowds are decreasing year upon year but if we were in an exciting and dynamic league brimming with top talent then this wouldn’t be a problem! No disrespect to teams such as Motherwell and Kilmarnock, but who would punters be more inclined to watch their team come up against: them or European heavyweights like Liverpool or Manchester United? There is no comparison.
The answer is clear for all to see not just in a competitive sense but financially as well. With the new television deal set to come into play next season, English teams will become even more powerful in the transfer market while we’re left languishing on the scraps that the big boys leave us. We find ourselves in the mind-blowing times where teams such as Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford can spend more cash on one player than we can all season. An example of this would be AFC Bournemouth’s recent signing of Arsenal reject Benik Afobe, who was seen as a ‘steal’ at £10 million, while my team is always looking to buy potential rather than forking out the cash for proven talent. There is simply no need to, as we are overwhelming favourites to win the league every year with the squad we have when compared to the other teams. Competition is needed.
It’s a move which I feel that would be definitely supported by our fans and by emerging teams such as Hearts and Aberdeen, who would have a far bigger chance of winning the Scottish league if we were gone. The people who would probably not support this monumental move would be the higher order in charge of the Scottish league as I’m sure they would not want to lose one of their biggest sources of revenue to their arch-rivals down south who are outperforming them on every front. Of course, it would be damaging to the league in a financial sense but in terms of long-term ambitions in sustaining our 128-year history then this move could prove pivotal to that.
In terms of who would be our main rivals in the Premier League, the obvious one would be Chelsea. The Blues are known for being friendly with our arch-rivals Rangers and our fans famously just don’t get on with friends of the other side of Glasgow. Another rivalry would between us and Manchester United, due to the Scottish links such as Denis Law and more famously the main man himself, Sir Alex Ferguson, not to mention former Celt David Moyes and his infamous tenure as the Red Devils’ manager.
Realistically, I think our aim position-wise would be to firstly establish ourselves in the league and possibly look for success in the cup competitions like the FA Cup. From then on we should look up rather than down the table. In order to do this, we would probably need to change our management to one which is experienced at this level. My personal pick would be former Porto, Chelsea and Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas, currently managing Zenit Saint Petersburg. Yes, he got sacked by both Spurs and Chelsea but give him time and he will emulate the huge success he achieved at FC Porto. Other realistic candidates in my view would be Brendan Rodgers and of course David Moyes, who used to play for the Hoops.
All in all, I hope that in time my team will be playing in the English Premier League or that a merge of Scotland and England’s league merge together to create a British league, along with Wales and Ireland. It would maximise profits for both the businessmen and for all clubs rather than restricting the big bucks to teams down south and would make for some great new rivalries, as well as rekindling old ones.
Guest Blog by Adam Stapleford (@asfooty1984):
May 28th 1980 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, and John Robertson's goal has just won Nottingham Forest their second consecutive European Cup. The 1-0 win over German side Hamburg is Forest's 7th major trophy in just three years. Champions of England, League Cup winners twice, Super Cup winners, Charity Shield winners, and two European Cups. All from a team that was only promoted to England's top flight in 1977. The unbelievable achievements management Brian Clough and Peter Taylor reached will never be forgotten.
Fast-forward to 1992 and Forest are relegated to the second tier of English football, in Brian Clough's last season in management before retirement. The man to step in and replace Clough was one of his own, Frank Clark. Clough had signed Clark back in 1977 from Newcastle United, and the left back played in the first European Cup victory in 1979. Forest immediately bounced back, gaining promotion in Clark's first season. A third place finish in the Premier League the following campaign was a great achievement. The year after that, Forest slipped to the 9th spot, but did enjoy two successful cup runs, reaching the Quarter Finals of both the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, losing to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich respectively. The following season was a struggle. Clark departed in December 1996, leaving club legend Stuart Pearce to take over. Unfortunately Pearce couldn't stop the slide, and once again Forest found themselves in the second tier. Dave Bassett was then handed the reigns, and again Forest bounced back straight away, gaining promotion as champions. But this time, the Reds only managed a year in the top flight. Bassett departed in January 1999, Ron Atkinson was brought in, but his task to keep Forest up failed, and again the Reds found themselves relegated.
July 1st 1999. David Platt is appointed Nottingham Forest manager. His task: Promotion. Platt was given money to burn, Forest failed, and after only two years in charge, he left to take charge of the England Under 21's. Academy manager Paul Hart was then promoted into the hot seat, and in his second season in charge had guided Forest to a 6th place finish, and a play-off place, with only three games away from the Premiership again. But the Reds couldn't get passed Sheffield United over two legs in the semi-finals, so another season in Division One awaited. Several key players left during the summer, and after injuries to other major players, Forest was struggling. February of 2004 saw Hart replaced by Joe Kinnear. Forest survived, and then it was Kinnear's turn to get Forest back to the Premier League. Kinnear lasted 11 months, and in January 2005 Gary Megson took over, and once again Forest struggled at the wrong end. This time they couldn't survive, and that year Forest had been relegated to Division Two, the third tier of English Football.
Forest expected an immediate return, but after some poor performances, and heavy defeats, including a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Chester City in the FA Cup, Megson departed. In the summer of 2006, Colin Calderwood was appointed the new manager. In his first season, Forest reached the play-offs, losing to Yeovil Town over two legs, but the following year the Reds gained promotion on the final day of the season. They found the Championship however a struggle, and Calderwood departed in December 2008. Billy Davies, given the job a month later, managed to keep Forest above water, and avoid relegation. That summer Davies restructured his squad and guided Forest to a third place finish, playing some brilliant football along the way, including thumping wins over Leicester City 5-1, QPR 5-0, and a 3-1 away to West Brom being the highlights. But Forest again failed, losing to Blackpool in the play-offs. The following campaign saw Forest again the end of season lottery after a 6th place finish, this time losing out to Swansea City, and in June 2011 Davies lost his job.
Former England manager Steve McClaren was the brought in, but only lasted 4 months, being replaced by Steve Cotterill, who would only be given time to see the season out. In the summer of 2012 the Al-Hasawi family took control of Nottingham Forest, replacing Cotterill with Sean O'Driscoll. The new owners had big plans, and pumped several millions into the club. A virtually new team arrived, and Forest set out to regain their Premier League dream. However after a 4-2 win over Leeds United on Boxing Day in 2012, O'Driscoll was surprisingly sacked, and replaced 24 hours later by Alex McLeish, but the Scot didn't last long either, and after just 7 games left the City Ground. His replacement: an old face, Billy Davies. Forest just missed out on the play-offs that season, but in the summer of 2013, Davies once again began to build a promotion chasing squad. The season started well with Forest winning their first three games, and topping the table. But it didn't last, and in March 2014, following a 5-0 defeat to local rivals Derby County, Davies departed. Forest played out the remainder of the season and the summer of 2014 saw the return of Stuart Pearce as manager which lifted spirits but the Reds legend couldn't find the magic either, and less than a year later, it was his turn to leave the hot seat.
February 1st 2015. Dougie Freedman is appointed Forest manager, finishing the season in 14th place. Forest then started the 2015-2016 season under a transfer embargo, with Freedman working with a one out one in process, and a maximum £10,000 per week wage structure. This season looks like it will fade out, with Forest too far away to challenge for a play-off spot, whilst having given themselves enough breathing space from relegation. The summer will see Forest's embargo lifted, and will give Freedman more freedom to move in the transfer market. Hopefully with long term injured players returning, and new players coming in, the 2016-2017 season may see Forest challenging again, but the glory years that Clough and Taylor brought to this club seems a very long time ago now, and pretty certainly, will never be repeated.
Guest Blog by Ross Eaton (@boxtoboxcb):
Man City's Fluidity in Attack Against Dynamo Kyiv
Scoring the joint most goals in the Premier League this season as well as racking up an average of two goals per game in the Champions League group stage is Manchester City. When a team has such a good goalscoring record, you would imagine they'd be flying in all competitions, however this hasn't been the case. City have a poor defensive record and rely too heavily on their ability to score more goals than the opposition, rather than preventing the opposition scoring. The Citizens have been exciting to watch in the final third and with players such as Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Sergio Agüero this doesn't come as a surprise. This article will be taking a look at the fashion in which City attacked against Dynamo Kiev in the the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
Manuel Pellegrini changed the roles certain personnel played in, unexpectedly. Yaya Toure was moved from the number 10 role to a deeper role alongside Fernando in the double-pivot. David Silva took up his preferred 10 position which vacated the right-wing, Fernandinho took this position, perhaps to add more aggression and defensive ability to City's high-press. Raheem Sterling played on the left while Sergio Agüero was striker.
Finding Space in Between the Lines
One player who excels when given, or finding space in between the lines is David Silva. Mistakenly, this is the player Dynamo Kiev gave space to in between the lines.
Kiev's disjointed press led to poor vertical compactness during City's build-up which centre-back Vincent Kompany took full advantage of by breaking Kiev's lines with a penetrating pass to Silva who got himself into intelligent positions where lanes were open. This often meant drifting from the centre into either halfspace, more often the right, but this wasn't too big a problem as it allowed him to dribble into the centre which could drag Kiev players from their position, potentially providing him with an opportunity to slip Aguero through.
Despite Silva and Aguero linking up nicely when the Spaniard found space in between the lines, not everything was so positive and well worked. Due to Fernandinho not being a natural right-winger, he didn't have the attacking intelligence a natural forward would have. This meant he struggled at times to make intelligent runs forward which Silva would be able to find when he had the space. Due to this, Silva was often forced to play down the left to either Sterling or Clichy, who made forward runs more frequently. After a while though, this became predictable and Dynamo made sure to track all of Sterling and Clichy's forward runs, as this could significantly limit the influence of Silva when on the ball in Zone 14 (regarding Zone 14: http://leochanperformanceanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/what-is-zone-14-in-football.html?m=1). Due to the right side being relatively ineffective in attack and Kiev suffocating their left side in the final third, this forced Silva to play more horizontal and backward passes than he would've liked to.
Interchanging and Flexibility
With the tactically innovative and flexible Pep Guardiola planning to join the club next season, we can expect City to be extremely fluid in attack. However, we are not being made to wait as current boss Manuel Pellegrini seems happy to watch his forwards move fluidly into almost whichever area they see as the best in their current situation.
One player who largely influenced the movement of the players around him was David Silva. Silva's drifting movements into the halfspaces and sometimes even wings opened up lots of space for his teammates on central positions. When Silva moved into a wing or halfspace, the winger from that side would usually move infield and push up alongside Aguero to attack the box, if the winger decided to remain on the wing to create a 3v2, this meant there was space for Yaya to make runs from deep into the 10 space, an area he is so dangerous in.
'This shows Silva moving wide to attempt to create an overload, as well as opening the 10 space for Yaya Toure to move into from deep'
The movement of the winger moving infield not only got themselves in a dangerous position but also opened more space for Silva and an overlapping full-back to overload the wing. Silva was very useful in these situations, where City overloaded a wing/halfspace, as his good decision making and precise passing made life a nightmare for Dynamo's full-back and eventually wingers, who were forced to track back and support their respective full-backs. This limited the attacking threat of Dynamo on the counter-attack as Yarmolenko wasn't able to move into an attacking position quickly enough in the transition from defending deep.
Fernandinho Moves Intelligently in New Role
Making the switch from playing as a standard 6 to playing as a right-winger isn't one many players have done, even less so successfully. Fernandinho though, made the switch against Dynamo Kyiv and played a very good game. Although he was put into the role primarily to aid City without the ball, adding some much needed aggression and intelligence to their high-pressing, Fernandinho actually did very well when on the ball.
Rather than attempt to beat his opponent with a skilful dribble or even with raw pace, Fernandinho played cleverly and made lots of simple horizontal passes and movements, to create space and opportunities for more creative players in the team.
One simple movement with the ball from the Brazilian was to receive the ball very wide, which dragged the full-back near the touchline away from the centre and then to accelerate quickly infield when the full-back was still on the back foot. This made up for his lack of pace as by moving at the correct moment he could get past him as it would be almost impossible for the full-back to make a change of direction so quickly. As Fernandinho dribbled inside towards the halfspace, the full-back was forced to chase his shadow, which opened a lot of space on the wing. This was perfect for an overlapping Bacary Sagna if the ball got moved out to him. The way the ball was moved out to him was simple, yet very effective. Fernandinho would play a short horizontal pass to Silva or Toure who would then attempt to play a first-time diagonal pass in between the centre-back and full-back, into the space opened up by Fernandinho on the wing. This provided Sagna with plenty of time and space to cross or cut the back back in or around the box.
All in all it was a much improved Manchester City performance who were very good in both phases of the game, attack and defence. Despite Man City creating quite a few of their chances through high-pressing, they were very good with the ball and used it more effectively than we've seen them previously. The one-two between the #10 and full-back we've seen lots by City this seen wasn't seen so much against Dynamo Kyiv, however, Fernandinho's movements inside which created space for Sagna made this unnecessary. The fluidity of City's movement caused Dynamo serious problems throughout, and even forced them into a 30th minute tactical substitution to prevent City finding so much space when attacking.
Guest Blog by Max Colantoni (@MColantoni10)
LA Galaxy 0, Santos Laguna 0
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 – 7:00 p.m. PT
2015-16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Quarters – First Leg
StubHub Center – Carson, California
The LA Galaxy earned a hard-fought result on Wednesday night at the StubHub Center, playing Liga MX side Santos Laguna to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the teams' CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series.
Jelle Van Damme nearly had an amazing start in his first game for the Galaxy, as his header off a corner kick in the first minute forced an astonishing save from Santos goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin. Ashley Cole, also making his Galaxy debut, did well working with the four man back line. Robbie Rodgers was a non-factor, demonstrating a few very frustrating mistakes. As for A.J. De La Garza he seemed to already be in mid-season form. Steven Gerrard displayed a classic “European Style” of play with magisterial one touch passes throughout the 0-0 draw.
As for the attack corps of the Galaxy, much was left to be desired. There weren’t many opportunities for Robbie Keane as he lacked support from his wingers Giovani dos Santos and Gyasi Zardes. In the 80th minute, substitute Javier Orozco nearly put Santos ahead, but his header flew just wide of the far post. Teammate Jesus Molina, attempting to follow up on the ball, accidentally slammed into the post and needed attention from Santos' medical staff before continuing.
The teams will play the second leg next Tuesday in Torreon to determine which team will advance to the semi-final round in the CCL.
Substitutes not used: Brian Rowe, Oscar Sorto, Dave Romney, Baggio Husidic, Mike Magee, Alan Gordon.
SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; CORNERS: 7; OFFSIDES: 0; SAVES: 5
Santos Laguna: Agustin Marchesin; Javier Abella, Jesus Molina, Diego Gonzalez, Luis Angel Mendoza (Diego de Buen 90’+3), Bryan Rabello (Ulises Davila 87’), Nestor Calderon, Nestor Araujo, Jorge Villafana, Martin Bravo (Javier Orozco 69’), Carlos Izquierdoz
Substitutes not used: Kristian Alvarez, Adrian Aldrete, Julio Gonzalez, Jorge Sanchez.
SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; CORNERS: 5; OFFSIDES: 0; SAVES: 3
Referee: Armando Castro (Honduras)
Referee’s Assistants: Christian Ramirez, Walter Lopez (Honduras)
4th Official: Melvin Matamoros (Honduras)
Guest Blog by Max Colantoni (@MColantoni10)
After a disappointing first-round departure from the playoffs in 2015, the Los Angeles Galaxy aims to get back into championship form for the upcoming year. 2015 was a roller coaster ride for Los Angeles; their record in home matches was good for second best in the MLS (12-2-3.) On the flip side, The Galaxy were a league worst at 2-9-6 away from the StubHub Center.
On the heels of a dazzling season from the 2014 MLS MVP Robbie Keane, many questions still remain surrounding the team’s other strikers. Giovani dos Santos arrived from Villarreal in August to provide another quality option for Galaxy boss Bruce Arena. Gyasi Zardes once again showed signs of brilliance with nine goals and five assists across all competitions. Zardes’ goal production took a dip after the arrival of Giovani dos Santos after Arena used him mainly on the right flank. Dos Santos scored four goals and finished with seven assists across all competitions in thirteen games with the Galaxy. Dos Santos and Keane look to lead the attack for the Galaxy once again in 2016. Last year, Bruce Arena also saw flashes of promise from some of his young talent, players like Ignacio Maganto, Bradford Jamieson IV, Raul Mendiola, and Jose Villarreal, all of whom scored at least once in 2015. Alan Gordon also shined last season with 11 goals throughout the year, remaining Arena’s first choice as an attacking substitution. Free agent, Mike Magee, returns to Los Angeles after playing two years in Chicago, making 51 appearances and scoring 22 goals from 2013-2015. He looks to provide depth and another goal scoring threat for Arenas. Twenty-two-year-old, Ghanaian Emmanuel Boateng, also joined the attack corps in January as a free agent, having spent the last two years in Sweden with Helsingborg’s IF. Arenas hopes he can find goal scoring chances, off the bench, providing a fiery boost in attack. Although Boateng tallied only four goals in 37 appearances from 2013-2015 with Helsingborg, he looks to learn some good technique from veterans Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos this season.
When the LA Galaxy’s midfield was at full strength, they were one of best groups in Major League Soccer. But because of countless injuries and international call-ups, Galaxy head coach, Bruce Arena, had to mix up his midfield for a majority of the season. The Galaxy found a bit of success after the arrival of English midfielders Steven Gerrard and Sebastian Lletget. With Gerrard in the center alongside Juninho, as well as Lletget and Gyasi Zardes manning the wings, the Galaxy midfield helped the team to a league best 6-1-0 record in August. After only scoring once in 2014, Juninho rediscovered his scoring ways with four goals and eight assists across all competitions, all while playing in a team high of 37 games. On December 24, 2015 Juninho transferred to Tijuana and will play in Liga Mexicana in 2016. This is obviously a big blow to the midfield and undoubtedly spurred the signing of Dutch midfielder, Nigel De Jong, from A.C. Milan. De Jong will step into a central midfield role and use his veteran leadership skills to motivate his younger Galaxy teammates. Another veteran, free agent midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, joins the Galaxy after two seasons with Chicago and looks to play the central defending midfield role this season. Expectations will be high for the Galaxy’s midfield for the 2016 season. Steven Gerrard and Sebastian Lletget will have a full pre-season with the club, and will surely be expected to produce much more than they did in their first season. Starting the season together should only help the team’s newcomers gel and hopefully allow the Galaxy to create the same form they enjoyed in 2014.
Defensively, in 2015, the Galaxy showed their true weaknesses. Countless mistakes and miscommunications made coach Bruce Arenas shake up his defensive formations. This, along with lack of discipline, led to one of the worst defensive displays in recent memory for the Galaxy. Omar Gonzalez and Dan Gargan once again led the defensive corps. Brazilian defender Leonardo was by far the Galaxy’s most consistent defender. Leonardo showed his stout ability to take on offenders in one-on-one situations. He was named the Galaxy’s defensive player of the year and looks to continue his good form in 2016. Veteran Englishman, Ashley Cole, joins the Galaxy defending corps after transferring from AS Roma over the winter and gives the Galaxy a veteran defenseman with plenty of European and international experience. He is tasked to fill the shoes of Omar Gonzalez who is on his way to Pachuca. Another Belgium international joins the Galaxy in Jelle Van Damme. Van Damme, another veteran, looks to provide another defensive option for Arenas this year. He has played the last five seasons with Standard Liege making 205 appearances with the squad in that span. Left back Robbie Rogers showed that his 2014 campaign was no accident as he had another strong season in 2015. Despite being a defender for less than a year, Rogers led all left backs in MLS with 75 interceptions. But his finest moment came on June 25th when he scored his first goal for the Galaxy during the club’s Pride Night. Concentration lapses weren’t the only issue for the Galaxy’s defense, as the club also suffered from a bunch of injuries. No defender was more struck by the injury bug than right back A.J. DeLaGarza. A foot injury sidelined the defender in the preseason, causing him to miss out on his usual starting role in the club’s first three matches. This wasn’t DeLaGarza’s only injury, however, as the defender also dealt with a groin injury that eventually required surgery at season’s end. Although DeLaGarza recovered to make 28 appearances across all competitions, the versatile defender was unable to regain the form that he enjoyed a year ago.
Now, about the messes in between the posts - the goalkeepers. No position drew more scrutiny in 2015 for the LA Galaxy than goalkeeper, the year can simply be defined by two distinct moments. First, was the mid-year loss of Jaime Penedo, who cited family reasons for his departure. Penedo never signed with another team and expressed regret when asked about the situation months later. Los Angeles turned to a familiar face as they brought back Jamaican international goalkeeper, Donovan Ricketts, from Orlando City. Ricketts played well in his 14 appearances, but his air-headed mistakes in the playoffs ultimately led to The Galaxy’s demise. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena has not stated that the club will dismiss Ricketts, but with the 38-year-old goalkeeper out of contract, it doesn’t look promising for the Jamaican’s future. With Ricketts expected to move on, Arena must find himself a new starting goalkeeper. Multiple media reports have said that the Galaxy could bring back Penedo, but that doesn’t look likely with the additions of Dan Kennedy and Clement Diop. Kennedy only made 16 appearances with Dallas last year and will probably mentor up-and-coming Diop, who was signed from Galaxy II. In the 2015 season, Diop won the USL Western Conference and reached the USL Championship final with LA Galaxy II. On December 16 2015, LA Galaxy announced they had signed Diop to a first team contract for the forthcoming MLS season.
In 2016 the new look Galaxy have their sights set on another MLS Cup win. After the departures of Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, and Juninho, the squad needs to be able to gel together again. Often times when teams take on new players, there is a lack of much needed chemistry on the pitch. Coach Bruce Arena said in an interview with SI.com: “Clubs have a lot of autonomy. They really do. You get to choose your own players. If you want to get Designated Players, you can. I’m sure the collective bargaining will give a little bit more freedom as well. But I think the notion that the league runs teams and tells you how you can spend and who’s on your team and who’s not is not accurate. However, at a local level you should have more freedom and responsibility in developing your roster. There’s still room to improve there.”
Our projected starting eleven shows a flurry of talented new and familiar faces. With Keane, dos Santos, and Zardes leading the attack. De Jong, Gerrard, and Lletget in the midfield. Robbie Rodgers playing a defensive minded midfielder, with Leonardo, Cole, and De La Garza holding up the defensive corps. As of today, Veteran Dan Kennedy would most likely start in goal for Los Angeles.
Guest Blog by Joseph Genova (@ASRomaNow)
2005 – Luciano Spalletti takes the helm of Roma after a rather disappointing season consisting of four different coaches. You can just imagine the chaos in Rome especially with the high demands of the fans and everyone around the world. Spalletti came in and had a bitter first half of the season but ended up in fourth place and landed a place in the Coppa Italia final in 2006. Now is it the most impressive achievement? No, of course it isn’t; but during the bald-headed wonders tenure, he succeeded in defended a Coppa Italia title and managed to bring a crumbling Roma to the Champions League quarterfinal. September 1st, 2009 marked the day Spalletti decided it was time to hang up the whistle with Il Lupi and try his luck abroad.
Fast forward to the present day. January 13th, 2016. Frenchman Rudi Garcia began to falter with a well-rounded Roma and was deemed expendable, cue the trumpets, introducing former AS Roma coach, Luciano Spalletti. Everybody became excited instantly; an Italian coach? Spalletti? TROPHIES?! So far Spalletti hasn’t really got the best out of his team, drawing his first game against a weak Hellas Verona, losing to the powerhouse Juventus and beating Frosinone 3-1. The loss to Juve was excusable simply because he only had 10 days to get his theories across, which isn’t an easy task. Captain Francesco Totti even lent a hand by speaking to individuals over dinner (which he probably didn’t pay for) about his favorite coach’s theories.
Presently this season won’t be able to be resurrected, a Champions League spot is what Roma should be aiming for simply cause they’re only four points away and it’s tight at the top. Looking into the future with coach Spalletti, from an overall fan of the beautiful game, the future looks bright. Spalletti is a brilliant coach with a magnificent attacking mentality; his coveted 4-2-3-1 is nothing short of brilliance. From the dazzling passes to the intricacy of the off the ball movement, Spalletti knows what he’s doing and what has to be done to prosper especially in the future. We can already see Bosnian hit man Edin Dzeko moving with a bit more confidence, Radja Nainggolan exploring his inner attacker. Spalletti will mold the team to his ideal image. We saw him use a 3-4-1-2 against Juventus, with the Giallorossi’s mobility in the centre back position I’m rather surprised it wasn’t experimented before. Under this new reign you can already see Roma’s mercato looking slightly improved, acquiring the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy, who is young, Italian and has potential.
El Shaarawy fits into Spalletti’s system simply because of his versatility, you can put him in as a trequartista or as a wide man and he has both the flair and the energy that Spalletti demands from his players. The Giallorossi brought in the Italo-Egyptian because of the recent departure of Ivorian stud Gervais Yao Kouassi also known has Gervinho. Once the Garcia’s departure came to fruition the Ivorian felt his time was also up and wanted a transfer. Earlier this week Roma also signed another defenseman, 28-year-old Bosnian Ervin Zukanovic, who previously played for Sampdoria. He is also versatile as well; can play both left back and center back, which isn’t an easy thing. Roma also snatched up winger Diego Perotti from Genoa on the last day of the winter transfer market.
For Romanisti, my recommendation is to look forward to the future with this man, you’ll have your beautiful soccer again, less injuries, more energy in attack and different tactics for certain opponents unlike Rudi Garcia.