Thursday, 24 February 2011

Vincenzo Montella - L'Aeroplanino Returns To Rome

Last night Roma returned to winning ways in Italy’s Serie A after beating Bologna 1-0, and picking up their first victory in five league games. The win allowed the Giallorossi to subsequently move up back into the converted European places in the league table.

The reason this win was important is because it signifies the first steps on the road to recovery after former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri quit his post at the Stadio Olimpico after a poor 4-3 defeat to Genoa last weekend, in which Roma were 3-0 up and went on to be defeated.

After this defeat, the 59-year old Italian offered his resignation, and after a day’s consideration, it was duly accepted by the Roma board. The sacking (or resignation) may not have come to a surprise to some, as Ranieri has been sacked from four of his last five managerial jobs.

This season Roma fans had been protesting and expressing their disappointment at the inconsistency shown in comparison to last year where they fought Inter Milan for the Serie A title, taking it to the wire.

Roma have lost 8 of the 26 games they have already played this season compared to the 6 games they last overall last season. This slump, plus rumours of a fall-out with senior squad members, all added to Ranieri’s exit. He left the side lumbered in 8th place.

The man who has taken over the reins in the Italian capital has surprised many, but is seen as a man who knows the club better than anyone else, and despite his non-existent managerial experience, was appointed until the end of the season. This man is former striker; Vincenzo Montella.

Montella, aged just 36-years old, has already been very vocal in expressing his desire to improve this current team, highlighting the issues with the current team being more psychological rather than tactical.

During his professional playing career, he a spent the majority and a total of 10 years in Italy’s capital, racking up 194 Serie A appearances and scoring 83 times. He was a small, clinical striker, with great technique and finishing ability, and was affectionately nicknamed L'Aeroplanino (the little Aeroplane) by the fans. In 1999 he cost Roma €25million when signing from Sampdoria.

Now he is in charge at Roma, in a role which can only be labelled as a “Caretaker manager”, he said he is no “stop-gap” and isn’t concentrating on whether he has a future as boss, or who should be taking charge at Roma, but he is approaching the role as a man who loves the club, and as a man who has a job to do, stating it a role his taking on with “enthusiasm and confidence”.

Montella has already publically rallied the troops stating that the players “need to free themselves from this burden (media pressure) and this is the first step we need to take so that they can play at their true potential”.

He also received acknowledgement from Roma vice-captain Daniele De Rossi, who gave a ringing endorsement of Montella as a player, describing him as having “great character, enthusiasm, determination and clear ideas” with these attributes De Rossi expects Montella to bring as a manager.

As stated earlier, he led them to a vital 1-0 victory last night over Bologna, and his impact could already be seen in the performance. Roma, who had conceded 11 goals in their last 3 Serie A matches, kept their first clean sheet for 4 games, and were credited by opposition manager Alberto Malesani for their strong defensive performance.

Montella also made strong changes to the starting line-up, as expected dropping goalkeeper Julio Sergio and centre back Juan for Alex Doni and Philipe Mexes respectively. The biggest name absent from the starting XI was Roma legend and club captain Francesco Totti who was left on the bench. Ironically Totti had had a falling out with previous coach Claudio Ranieri over that very issue.

Vincenzo Montella now has to build on this good start, continue to pick the right starting eleven and not be influenced by the big names or by former friends. It’s a big task, but with the quality and depth of players available at the club, the great fan base and now a fan’s favourite in charge, the aim of reaching those desired Champions League places is short term, yet achievable objective for Giallorossi.

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