My life has not changed at all. As in the last ten years, it is blessed by the stars and eschewed by the men. Be not afraid if time passes and there is no word from me, be not anxious by the tram-station nor blue when you're playing, because I have taken my destiny in my own hands. I have thought in light-years and I have suffered in seconds.
One of the reasons I stopped writing about football was that I'd started working as a sailor on a cruise ship. Considering I worked ten or eleven hours a day, there was little space left to watch the sport, and even less to write about it. Another reason though, or at least the thing which made the pill a little less bitter to swallow, was the fact that I knew we Italy and Roma fans were going to get our arses steamrolled like the highways of Japan in the near future, and I didn't really feel like watching it.
I'll pass on how the World Cup went for the benefit of my over-90 readership who may suffer from a stroke at the mere mention of it, but I'm thinking of this fat pianist who worked on my ship and thought he 'knew a thing or two' about football. When an Italian tells you that he 'knows a thing or two' about football what he means is that you can hear his opinion and die, so I knew I was in for some monologues. So Yoda here is sipping his Scotch at the crew bar and he tells me, with this air of casual solemnity, 'way I see it, Roma are going far this year. I see them in some serious good shape.' My response was that, way I saw it, we weren't going far enough to pick our own noses. The team suffered from some serious structural limitations and the real problem was the whole managerial philosophy behind them, which exacerbated rather than addressed the cracks in the red and yellow dam.
The guy chuckled. (Fat people are particularly exasperating when they chuckle at you). Me, I didn't say anything. But I bet him a beer for Roma's results against his. A few months later, I had so many beers on credit at that bar that I could have got half of deck 4 as drunk as a bunch of salamanders. 'I don't get it,' Yoda said, shelling out the cash, 'they had such a solid team. They improved so much. Whatever went wrong?'
Yes, whatever did go wrong? I'm going to spend the next few posts explaining why. I guess it's just for the satisfaction of getting to write about football again.
And then there's the fact of pointing out something that I never tire of pointing out. Whenever something doesn't work in a team, you get these football rednecks who start yelling like someone stole their frisbees and pointing their fingers at one particular problem. Like, Claudio Ranieri's the problem! Or, our weak attack is the problem! Or, the new plutonium toothpaste in Coverciano is the problem! Or, the fact that Marco Cassetti has been tied to a dead elephant for the last twenty years is the problem, and the fact that we've purchased another dead elephant (Adriano) on the mercato is also the problem!
No. When you lose one match, maybe there is one problem (which is why one single problem is enough to screw up an entire World Cup campaign, see Dunga's Brazil and the most rigid 4-2-3-1 in history, but anyway). When a whole half-season is going pear-shaped, then THERE'S ALMOST NEVER just one problem, it is always a COMBINATION of problems. A single problem can be solved quickly. A combination of problems perpetuate each other and require ages to be disentangled (see Spalletti's trouble in getting the old Roma back on their feet, and the time it took Ranieri to restabilise it).
At the heart of it, these problems are caused by a deeply flawed football philosophy entertained at the levels of management, one which leads to choices which, on the long run, really hurt the team. Why do I say this? Let's break it down, and let's go see exactly where the problems lie - or, more accurately, how the exact same problems re-present themselves for all departments of the team, leading to a single unified brain meltdown.