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

Spreag Daniele De Rossi <a class=Roma to award possession and maintain a higher line – and got them back in contention for a place in the Champions League.Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/” data-src= “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/”/>

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

Still, we can probably get away with saying it here. For 45 minutes on Saturday, Roma were excellent: standing toe-to-toe with the Serie A leaders like few of the season. The game had barely started when Stephan El Shaarawy forced Yann Sommer into a fine save. Inter then took the lead through Francesco Acerbi’s header, but goals from Gianluca Mancini and El Shaarawy put Roma ahead at the break.

As the last of those went in, the ball flashing in through both posts in a great downpour, De Rossi laughed and roared on the sidelines, soaked in a suit jacket that never stood a chance. He looked like a man in his element, and why shouldn’t he? This is the job he dreamed of from the moment he retired as a player.

Back in 2010, De Rossi claimed that he had “only one regret: that I can only give Roma one career”. Fourteen years later, he was given a second chance. When the club’s American owners, The Friedkin Group, lost patience with José Mourinho’s declining results and increasing polemics at the start of this year, they turned to De Rossi to save their season.

On the surface, that nostalgia might seem desperate. De Rossi played for Roma for nearly two decades, but his only coaching experience was as Roberto Mancini’s assistant with the national team, and then a brief and unsuccessful spell as manager of Spal in Serie B, where He was fired after three of 17 games.

Looking at it from another angle, however, he was the only candidate who had a chance. Despite Mourinho’s poor domestic results – his 1.61 points per game are the lowest of any Roma manager to go over 50 games in the treble – back-to-back European finals and his ‘us against the world’ rhetoric ‘. he earned the unwavering loyalty of many supporters.

He might have felt it was a thankless task for another manager, but De Rossi didn’t. He had nothing to worry about from fans who were there for every step of his journey from academic graduate to ‘Capitan Futuro’ and finally received the armband from Francesco Totti.

De Rossi has always been one of them, another advantage because it meant he could walk in on day one with concrete ideas about what needed to be fixed. It was a typical Roma game until the moment reports began to circulate that Mourinho’s job was in danger, at which point he chose to stay away so as not to add to the rumor mill.

De Rossi publicly and privately supported the Portuguese – showing how he brought the fans together. But that did not mean agreeing with every tactical choice. Immediately, De Rossi changed the formation from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 which allowed him to park El Shaarawy on the left side of the attack: a runner who could offer another threat to Paulo Dybala on the other side. .

Roma players were encouraged to donate possession, and to hold a higher line. A side who have won just two of their last seven games under Mourinho, slipping to ninth in the table, have taken maximum points from De Rossi’s first three games in charge.

It helped that it happened to be against the bottom three. Still, there were signs that a new energy was taking hold. Lorenzo Pellegrini, Roma’s latest home captain, scored in all three games, more than doubling his tally for this Serie A campaign. After a 2-1 victory over Verona and Salernitana, Roma thumped Cagliari 4-0.

De Rossi insisted that “every team in the world can be beaten, even Inter”. His players bought in. Nineteen points separated the league leaders from Roma before kick-off, but you wouldn’t know it from the way the game started.

Only in the second half did Inter assert its superiority. They equalized almost immediately after the restart, Nicolò Barella and Benjamin Pavard were given too much space together before the latter crossed for Marcus Thuram to score. In the 56th minute, Angeliño replaced Henrikh Mkhitaryan into his own net.

After a courageous attacking display in the first half, De Rossi’s Roma exposed their soft underbelly. But they kept threatening. They should have pulled back level in the 70th minute, when Pellegrini threaded an off-balance superb half-court pass between Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni. Romelu Lukaku, one on one with Sommer, let the keeper take the ball out of his toes.

Inter’s final goal came in injury time, with Roma too determined to demand an equaliser. As De Rossi admitted, the Nerazzurri “nothing” was stolen. However the result of the lottery would not be unfair either.

Roma’s optimistic football, going for the jugular against the best teams in the league, was in stark contrast to the consistently defensive and yet unsuccessful approach we saw against their best domestic rivals during Mourinho’s tenure. As did De Rossi after the game.

Three Inter players were outside Acerbi’s goal and one, Thuram, was in shoulder-to-shoulder contact with Rui Patricio. The officials ruled that no one was directly involved in the play as the header flew into the far corner and the keeper had no trouble saving it. De Rossi pointed out that the offside rule as written has ambiguities that have led to it being applied inconsistently, “but for my idea of ​​football, that’s a goal”.

The Friedkins will have welcomed that measured response. It is difficult to imagine Mourinho reacting in the same way in his last Roman chapter, when every week seemed to bring a new betrayal. But the owners’ top priority is getting their club back into the Champions League – as it has been since taking over in 2020.

He remains a plausible target for this season. Even after Saturday’s win, De Rossi lifted Roma up to sixth in the table – four points behind fourth and just one point off a potentially good fifth place. still enough to qualify for Europe’s premier expansion competition next season.

The situation is precarious. Despite Mourinho’s frequent laments about rival clubs spending more in the transfer market, the reality is that Roma are still working to balance the books after spending more than €130m in his first year in the club and continue to add high earners like Dybala. with Lukaku even making a net profit on initial fees in transfer windows since.

Further cuts to the wage bill will be necessary as they work to stay in line with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play requirements. This will mean greater reliance on young and indigenous talent. Here, too, De Rossi could be a nice fit. His father, Alberto coached in the club’s academy system for 25 years and became Roma’s head of youth coach development in 2022.

First, however, the young De Rossi must prove that he is up to managing at this level. His contract only runs until the end of the season. “I’m sure this is a strong team, with important players,” he said when asked after taking the job why he didn’t ask to have an option to extend the deal.

“Strong teams can have tough times, which has always happened. But I think that everything we need to rise again. So we don’t need any parachutes. We just want this great 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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