venerdì 11 maggio 2012

The failed revolution

He quit. Roma coach Luis Enrique said  he will leave the Serie A club after the final game against Cesena. He told it to the team and support staff at the end of the training session. This is the end of a revolution. A failed revolution, of course. History teaches us a lot about failed revolutions.When As Rome appointed former Barcelona's midfielder last summer, they hope to bring on a new football idea in the mouldy Italian football. The idea was to run a Barcelona-style football in the Catenaccio land. An attacking football based on ball control. 

Luis Enrique tried to install Barcelona's movements, a 4-3-3 with full-backs moving forward to become wing-backs; with the holding midfielder, often Daniele De Rossi, sometimes Fernando Gago, collapsing on the back line at the start of the attack;  with wings moving forward to go beyond the lone forward. Rome wasn’t built in a day but patience is not there. In Italy you have to win.
Why he failed? Because the system wasn't suited for his roster. But Enrique never changed mind and he stuck to his principles. He don’t consider football any other way.
Despite the rise of  Fabio Borini, forwards weren't real weapons. In some matches, As Rome created few scoring chances; in some others, they created a lot but failed to score. The idea to keep Francesco Totti far from the goal, asking him to come back and play an attacking midfielder role was unffective and highly criticized, despite he played some of his best football in that position. Moving him away from the penalty box does mean he was not comfortable operating there and depleted team of a functional finisher. Also, Enrique liked the idea to utilize Totti coming out from the bench. He wanted forwards able to press high when the ball was lost, and the 35-years old captain wasn't suited for this job. Youngsters showed growing pains as Lamela and Bojan was so-so. Just centre forward Osvaldo has done well, despite the fact he played often as cutting inside wing. The hirings of Fernando Gago and Miralem Pjanic showed that Enrique wanted control the game a la Barcelona. As Rome averaged 60% of possession but the team struggled to create scoring chances in the first part of the season. In Italy, a non vertical football  don't pay off. To improve this part of the game, and correct the lack of penetration, Enrique switched his system, utilizing both 4-3-3 and a 4-3-1-2 formation, and his gameplan. But isseus stayed. On the flanks, Enrique lacked of true wing-backs. Jose Angel has been far from impressive at left-back; Brazilian Marquinho was much better when he played there. Simone Perrotta and Rodrigo Taddei was uncomfortable defensively, playing out of position; Marco Cassetti and Aleandro Rosi neither have looked good. The early abandon of Cicinho was inexplicable. Utilizing De Rossi deep in midfield, dropping between the centre-backs, gave the team its bigger performer but depleted As Rome of a scoring threat, as he was as insider midfielder in the early part of his career. And employing him sometimes at centre-back fit Enrique’s will for ball-playing backs but depleted midfield. But the bigger downside to this tactic was that Roma were helpless to the counterattacks. Team conceded 13 shots per game and often allowed goals defeding with just the two centre-backs.
 With Nicolas Burdisso injuried, Enrique had just Gabriel Heinze as gifted centre-back. Simon Kjaer's season was horrible. But Enrique also paid As Rome's lack of maturity. Too often his team went out of the game too early. Just take a look to the matches vs Juventus or Lecce as examples.

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