Is Roma worse off under Claudio Ranieri?
Background image: Gary Denham, CC BY-SA 2.0
Sacking Eusebio Di Francesco came as no surprise as speculations had been rife concerning his dismissal. Under the 49-year-old, the team was making little progress, if any. The Giallorossi were struggling to keep up with the pace of the league as a top-four finish was looking more and more difficult to attain. Just as Inter and AC Milan were pulling away to join Juventus and Napoli at the top, Lazio and Atalanta were closing in from behind. When the team failed to progress to the quarter-final of the Champions League after losing 3-1 to Porto, the club’s hierarchy could take no more.
As earlier stated, it came as no surprise to the football world that Di Francesco was dismissed. But what did come as a shock was the appointment of Claudio Ranieri as his successor. The 67-year-old veteran of the dugout had just been fired at Fulham for failing to help the side turn the corner as relegation was becoming a reality by the day. Just when he may have thought of taking a much-deserved rest from the game, a call came from the Stadio Olimpico that he says he could not turn down.
However, both results on the pitch and the team’s position on the table suggest he should have politely turned down the job. Age aside, taking a rest from the game after a long engagement, even if it’s just for a couple of months like Jose Mourinho is having right now, can benefit any manager. It allows time for some breath of fresh air that can reinvigorate the boss. Roma is no closer to qualifying for next season’s Champions League now than it was when Di Francesco was still in charge. In fact, if anything, the situation is worse now.
Placed eighth on the table, four points behind AC Milan in the fourth position, the team has to move beyond Torino, Lazio and Atalanta before battling Gennaro Gattuso’s side for the final Champions League spot. But if the performance under Ranieri continues the way it has been going, that will not be achievable. In four matches since he took over, the team has been able to pick up maximum points just once. That was a narrow 2-1 victory against struggling Empoli. In the three subsequent games, the team has failed to sparkle.
Losing back-to-back to SPAL and Napoli in the following games was bad enough, but getting totally battered 4-1 at home by Napoli was an embarrassment. It only brought bad memories of the sorry state of things Ranieri left behind at Fulham. Yet, the team was not able to get a much-needed win against Fiorentina in the next game settling for a 2-2 draw. That leaves the club languishing in eighth place and getting further away from Champions League football.
So in the end, Roma may have eliminated one problem and replaced it with an even bigger one. If Eusebio Di Francesco was not the real deal, Claudio Ranieri is nowhere close to being one. In his heydays, he did some marvellous work with Valencia, Chelsea, Parma, Juventus and even Roma. Although it took until Leicester City to win a league title, he had made his name in the game long before then. But things are not quite the same anymore. The Roma hierarchy needs to realise that and move on sooner than later.