Two players, one manager, and one goal up. Min. 97. Only 40 seconds left. Roma have the ball. Ask me how, but Cagliari equalise, one man alone against a backline of 5 defenders. This is a new Guinness record for sure. A game that was in the safe, done and dusted, 3 points in the bag. Cagliari had already given up. But this is “Unicef Roma”, we do charity to anyone. And when we don’t do charity we don’t win for bad luck or referee mistakes.
Roma are back to what it was back three months ago. Only 3 out of 18 points, all lost against Atalanta, Chievo, Bologna, SPAL, Udinese and Cagliari. We are far away from the 4th spot that would guarantee Champions League football next year. And Roma cannot miss on that if want to carry on to try to chase the big boys out there. So, this was a big disappointment, probably the biggest so far.
Cronic problems, as we said thoughout the campaign. Mental, physical, and even environmental. A team that is not able to capitalise, not able to finish off, not able to keep stable or even keep the head up. What kinf of pressure you have when you are 2 nil up with 10 minutes to go, with the opposition already in the dressing rooms?
Roma hinted that it was now up to Cagliari to get a chance – please come forward and try, we can help – the message. So, they did pull one back with a few minutes left, and then the bad foul on Robin Olsen, two red cards for two Cagliari players, a red card to the coach. 1 minute left. Roma have the ball. All you needed was going to the corner flag and keep it, like Totti used to do. Game over? Not. Cagliari with just one man against five manage to score the equaliser. Crazy stuff.
Di Francesco can be criticized, no problem. “Everyone is held responsible here. Club, manager, players, back staff. But one day you are a genius and another you are just a dumb”. That is what Eusebio told us back in September in a Madrid hotel before Champions League clash with Real. Eusebio is a great coach and a lovely person. Maybe too nice. Maybe this club needs a tough sergeant to aspire to anything. Modern football history says that only Nils Liedholm and Fabio Capello have succeeded here. Both had won scudettos and Cups with big clubs like Milan and Real Madrid. Only two profiles were matching these: Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte. One is an old Romanista but gone to Napoli, the other one is a Juve faithful but free. Will EDF eat the pudding at Christmas?