With the right manager, Roma could find themselves in Champions League in two years.
Shocked? Don’t be. Serie A is not as competitive as the Premier League. Outside of Milan and Juventus, no one in the league stood out, and the third and final slot was up for grabs all year. It will probably be the same this coming season as Inter could make a come back, but they are still an older team. The nerazurri need to add some younger players, so the turnaround might not be immediate.
Therefore, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Champions League be an expectation for Roma with the right manager at the helm.
As we await to hear the announcement as to who will fill the vacant chair left by outgoing manager Luis Enrique, let’s take a look and discuss the rumored prospects.
Vincenzo Montella, Catania Manager
Montella is a fan favorite, and more importantly, the Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti favorite. The current Catania coach is a former Roma striker and actually played with De Rossi and Totti, as well as managed the two on an interim basis late last year when Claudio Ranieri was fired.
However, the 37-year-old did not do enough at the time to convince the Roma officials that he was ready for the job full time. Ironically, less than a year later, he has. Catania has had a very nice season, going from a team expected to fight against relegation to a team comfortably mid-table with an 11th place finish.
As a former striker, Montella is attack-minded and has taught the Sicilian elephants to play at a furious pace. This is attractive to watch, unlike traditional Italian football, and works well with what Luis Enrique started trying to do at Roma this season. Enrique taught a Barcelona-like slow buildup, but always preferred playing on the front foot, rather than the counter attack. Therefore, the personnel in place on the roster might adapt well to Montella.
Andre Villas-Boas, Former Chelsea Manager
Pretty much every big club vacancy has Andre Villas-Boas’ name attached to it right now.
I will say this right off the bat. There is absolutely no doubt Villas-Boas failed at Chelsea. He couldn’t handle the players, he couldn’t handle the London media, he couldn’t handle Roman Abromovich and every bit of that showed. The former Porto manager never fully wrapped his hands around the Chelsea job and it showed in multiple areas.
Eventually, it cost him his job and it looked even worse when the interim manager who replaced him led Chelsea to European glory just a couple months later, showing the Blues’ woes domestically to be heavily linked to the outgoing manager.
With all this said, however, Villas-Boas is still a very good, young manager with a strong mind in his tactical play. The right situation could see a resurgence for the young coach, and Roma could be it.
Roma are a big club, but they’re not too big. They don’t have the expectations or media frying pan that the Chelsea job brought, so it would be absolutely possible to over perform the club’s expectations. This is impossible in London, where they want to win every competition they are a part of. Also, tactically the move makes sense for Villas-Boas, who has a very similar approach to Luis Enrique and the team wouldn’t miss a beat on the field, especially as he would be expected to bring along some players he trusts from a very good Porto team.
Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea Interim Manager
Speaking of Chelsea, let’s stay in west London for one more candidate.
Let me go on the record and say if Roman Abromovich doesn’t hire Roberto Di Matteo full time for at least a two year contract, I think he would be making a big mistake. Chelsea are in transition and as they make personnel changes, getting younger in the process, it might be prudent to hold onto a manager as defensively adept as Di Matteo.
However, if they elect to hire a big name manager instead, Roma might want to jump at the chance to sign a manager with Italian roots having just proven himself able to succeed in one of the more difficult situations a manager could face.
The downside to this hire is Di Matteo would basically need to tear up everything the Giallorossi have been learning under Enrique this past campaign. Roma would go away from playing an attractive to watch style, and resort back to the traditional Italian style of defensive football. This doesn’t have to be a negative. I don’t think there is any doubt Roberto Di Matteo knows how to win games, and if that’s all that matters to Roma, this is the hire they should probably make.
One problem, it isn’t all the Roma officials care about, as they have gone on the record in saying they are not ready to abandon the project of bringing an attacking, possession style to Serie A. And with the report that Chelsea are to hand Di Matteo a one-year contract, I don’t see this one happening.
My bet is on Vincenzo Montella. I would imagine that Catania saying they won’t let their promising, young manager go is just a hardball negotiation tactic. Everyone has a price and if Roma really want Montella that badly, they will pay that price.