Is Antonio Conte the right man to take Roma forward?
Background photo: Gary Denham, CC BY-SA 2.0
The rumours and speculations were finally laid to rest when Eusebio Di Francesco was sacked by Roma in March. The former Sassuolo manager moved to the capital city club in 2017 after excelling with the Black and Greens whom he led to a sixth-place finish in the Serie A in the 2015/16 campaign. This, despite the club’s limited resources. But his time in Rome was marred by inconsistency from the Giallorossi. After losing to Liverpool in the semifinal of last season’s Champions League, he was allowed to continue with the side perhaps in the hope of things getting better with time.
Unfortunately for the 49-year-old, things went from bad to worse instead this term. A second leg quarter-final collapse against Porto was the straw that broke the camel’s back. A poor performance in the domestic league preceded that climax. The level of competition for a top-four place in Serie A has been at an all-time high. Juventus has led the way all season while Napoli comes in at a distant second. Then it’s a free-for-all fight for the remaining two slots. Under Di Francesco, Roma could not keep up with the pace. The Milan clubs have witnessed a resurgence this term. Atalanta and Lazio have also given a good fight.
At the moment, it’s Inter Milan and Atalanta that look likely to make the cut.
Claudio Ranieri got a surprise call to take charge of La Lupa after Di Francesco’s departure. But what has not been a surprise is the fact that the team has failed to make a U-turn. Performances have continued to be inconsistent as the side struggles to secure a place in Europe’s elite competition for next season. How can that be surprising when the former Monaco and Leicester manager has failed to make any mark after Leicester’s fairytale run to the Premier League title in 2016. The likely scenario is that he will depart this summer.
What Roma needs is a manager who is a proven and consistent winner that can lead the club to not only challenge for the Scudetto but have a shot at Champions League success as well. Only two managers available in the market at the moment fit the bill; Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. Mourinho has been linked to every imaginable job after leaving Manchester United last December.
But the Portuguese manager appears to be biding his time waiting to pick a side at the end of the season that is ready to splash the cash on top quality players. It has been his style as he is the first manager to spend over £1 billion on transfers. Paris Saint Germain looks like an ideal destination especially with Thomas Tuchel failing in the Champions League while enduring a poor finish to the domestic campaign despite having already won the league title.
As for Conte, Italy has been a happy hunting ground. Before Massimiliano Allegri became the man leading Juventus to dominate Serie A, Conte had led the way. The 49-year-old won three consecutive league titles with the Old Lady, then moving on to manage the Italian national team. After leading Gli Azzurri to the quarter-final of Euro 2016, he left for Chelsea.
In England, the Italian gaffer hit gold at the very first attempt. He led the Blues to the Premier League title in 2017 to the astonishment of many. Relationship issues with the club’s hierarchy cut short his time at Stamford Bridge. Yet, he was able to deliver the FA Cup to the club as a parting gift. Such is his winning habit.
With Roma in need of a rebuilding job and a manager who can instil a winning mentality in the squad, Conte will be the perfect fit. Add to that the fact that he has recently been talking up his chances of coaching in Italy in the near future and it shows a man ready for the job once the conditions are right.
All things being equal, with the former Juventus gaffer in charge, Roma can only make progress. He’s been there, done that and remains one of the best managers in the game today. But the ball is in Roma’s court to do what’s necessary to attract one of the best managers in modern football to the Stadio Olimpico sooner than later.