Why Spalletti return makes Roma a fab 3/1 for top three finish
Holly Thackeray | January 16, 2016
Excellent Eternal City odds for Spalletti success
And so, Luciano Spalletti returns to the Roma dugout amid much fanfare for the former Giallorossi favourite, as recently ousted gaffer Rudi Garcia slinks into the Stadio Olimpico shadows.
There is something distinctly Italian about this romantic reunion, with much drama and intrigue behind it. Yet, it could prove just the catalyst the Romans require for the second half of this Serie A season.
They say never look back but, for the most part, Spalleti’s previous Roma spell drew admirers from across the continent with its flamboyant football.
Coral are offering customers rather generous odds of 3/1 for the Italian capital club to now claim a coveted top three spot, and subsequent Champions League qualification, and here are a few reasons this bet is worth backing as we consider the coaching switch…
More managerial motivation
In fifth place, but just seven points adrift of surprise Serie A leaders Napoli, there might not need to be as much reshuffling or renovation of the Lupi pack as suggested by Garcia’s sacking.
The Frenchman appeared to be walking the Green Mile for some time and rather publicly, though, despite just one win in 10 causing an ample amount of damage to the campaign, his dismissal looked harsh.
Successive second spot finishes may not have been revolutionary but it provided a steady platform for Roma’s new project, an achievement despite the reported tinkering of US-based club president James Pallotta.
Under Spalletti, this season is salvageable, with the basic argument of new boss syndrome perhaps enough to install a Roma revival, as it did previously when the Tuscan tactician took over last in 2005.
No Roma-tinted glasses
In addition, Spalletti may be buoyed by a return to this Eternal City bench, but he is not naive and knows what it takes to stave the wolves from the door, having dealt with the pressure from above and in the dressing room before.
Despite the abrupt way in which his previous tenure ended, Spalletti told press: “I’m emotional because I know the value of this city, this club and this squad. To work with such valuable people really motivates me.
“If I think back to my past time at Roma I’m fond of everything because it was a very intense experience. There were several stages to it and it was an important part of my life, both professionally speaking and on a personal level.
“I’ll never forget those Champions League nights with the Olimpico packed out. The song they sing at the stadium is another thing I’ve never forgotten,” finished the 56-year-old.
Perhaps all this is just to pander to the quickly disappearing crowds, but if passion and connection to the traditions of old is what it takes to fill the Curva Sud again, Spalletti can deliver in spades. A savvy move indeed by Pallotta to evoke such colourful memories.
Yet, the coach also appeared cautious and more than aware of the status-quo, saying: “What we can say is that we have to take each day as it comes. We’re in the situation we’re in and we need to earn back the respect of those who watch us. I hear too much talk from too many people.
“We have to get on with the job seriously and professionally and make sure that – through our work – we create opportunities for the future. It doesn’t depend on us alone, though.”
Previous trophy prestige
If there are any tensions which still need to be eased between Spalletti, Roma’s something old and something new, and the club, the upside is that there are just three members of his previous 2005-09 vintage remaining. Goalkeeper Bogdan Lobonț and, of course, iconic home-grown heroes and team leaders Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi.
Though, the balance of power may be different this time, with the Roman pair waning in influence on the pitch, and Totti even reportedly set to retire come summer. This gives Spalletti a clean slate and perhaps two talented veterans eager to align for one final title tilt.
In his favour, Spalletti is the last to have lifted silverware with the Giallorossi, nabbing back-to-back Coppa Italia’s in 2007 and 2008 plus a Supercoppa Italiana in his first tenure. Six managers have come and gone since the Italian exited, but none had his staying power.
There is hope Pallotta and co will respect Spalletti’s pedigree enough to step back, and the former midfielder did his reputation no harm by showing he can last the distance in league competition while in Russia with Zenit St Petersburg, claiming two top-tier titles.
It was ex-Udinese boss Spalletti’s European disappointment which saw him axed, though surely only fond memories of continental nights under this coach remain at the Olimpico, where Roma frequently punched above their weight, including reaching two Champions League quarter-finals.
An ingenious and flexible 4-2-3-1 formation became the Eternal City outfit’s exciting hallmark, producing at times thrilling football, a type of display that the capital yearns for again.
Roma reincarnation on the cards
There is no need to gloss over that the Giallorossi struggled as Spalletti’s tenure came to an end, with his formation ultimately failing to provide the most prestigious silverware, but it still produced quite the ride.
But, the Scudetto race needs to be taken by the scruff of the neck and with players on the Roman roster such as Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic, Iago Falque, Mohamed Salah, Radja Nainggolan and Gervinho, Spalletti will not be short of technical ability to mould.
While, promising players such as on-loan left back Lucas Digne, striking starlet Umar Sadiq and utility man Alessandro Florenzi, could truly blossom under his attacking tutelage.
And, with latest transfer rumours not linking the Romans to targets marked to fix their threadbare and leaky rearguard, but instead another forward in Sunderland winger Jeremain Lens, this hints that Spalletti may use attack as the best form of defence; something which could bring fans back in droves if implemented successfully. One thing is for sure, it won’t be dull.
Roma are backed by more cash now, and if there is a wad in the coffers to support this managerial switch it could sway Serie A. Though, much remains in the hands of inconsistent title rivals, as Spalletti said: “I know quite a lot. The team is very different and I know a lot of good restructuring work has gone on – generally speaking – which I think in some ways was necessary.
“When you’re a few points behind, as we are at the moment, it depends on our rivals too. That said, we’re duty-bound to always give our all.”
Juventus have recovered after a shocking start to their Serie A defence but still look shaky, while Inter Milan have toiled for emphatic attacking victories, with dark horses Napoli and Fiorentina always looking vulnerable due to inexperience during squeaky bum time.
With this in mind, Roma look an enticing 3/1 price to make the top three, or even an intriguing outside shout at 50/1 to snatch the Scudetto in this still wide open race.
Read more on Serie A on our dedicated Italian football page.