With the powers that be at AS Roma having finally pulled the trigger on the protracted ousting of Rudi Garcia, Luciano Spalletti has returned for his second stint as manager. The capital club enjoyed a measure of success during Spalletti’s first spell in charge –- between 2005 and 2009 -– winning back-to-back Coppa Italia honors as well as the Italian Super Cup.
Roma fans will be hoping that the 56-year-old former Italian international will be able to repeat that success the second time round.
The club currently sits fifth in the table, seven points behind Napoli in the top spot. With just one win in their last seven matches under Garcia, it’s fair to say there is room for improvement.
One of Spalletti’s first challenges will be to shore up a defense that’s already conceded 38 goals in all competitions this season. The Roma defense has been particularly susceptible to late goals.
In two and a half seasons in charge, the one constant in Garcia’s tenure was seeing title aspirations whittled away by drawing games they should have won.
If Spalletti is to turn Roma from a team incapable of closing out matches into true Scudetto contenders, he will need to find a way to tighten up the defense, particularly in the closing minutes of matches.
He will also need to get more out of his forwards. For the second season in a row, Roma are in danger of going an entire Serie A campaign without a single player hitting double digits in the scoring column. Miralem Pjanic currently leads the team with seven goals, followed by Gervinho with six and Mohamed Salah with five.
Most disappointing has been Edin Dzeko, who after coming over on loan from Manchester City has only found the net three times this season. It’s a poor return from a player who was supposed to be the answer to the Giallorossi’s goalscoring problems.
Spalletti may also need to mend fences with the team’s two senior players, Francesco Totti and Daniele de Rossi. Another of Spalletti’s first orders of business will be to get the fans back on board.
Can the former manager who won two Russian Premier League titles with Zenit St. Petersburg get Roma’s title hopes back on track? Current favorites Napoli and Inter have both been inconsistent. With Juventus bounding up the table after a faltering start, there’s a sense that the title could be up for grabs.
In any case, Roma still has one of the most talented midfields in Serie A; if Spalletti can get his defense sorted and his attack firing, nothing is out of the question.