Culture of Work, Culture of Recognition

It had all the signs of a love story on the verging of blooming: Spalletti had found a new object of desire, someone new to shower with his little man-crushes. After Perrotta, Pizarro, and to some extent Cassetti, Stefano Guberti was ideal as a short, goal scoring winger. But when Spalletti resigned two games into the serie A season, the dream move started to look like a career cul-de-sac, and Guberti seemed the forgotten man; a non-entity; a ghost of coaches past.

Since Ranieri took over Roma, Guberti's highlights were sitting on the bench for ninety minutes, twice. His response hasn't been, however, to resign himself to a relaxed life as a footballer in the city of cities, waiting for a loan or full move to a smaller club in January or next summer. Last week Ranieri singled Guberti out, and heralded him for his attitude:
I've never taken him into consideration, but he's worked; always and hard. Enough to make me rethink some of my choices. Take your example from him.
And sure enough, he was thrown in as Ranieri's response to Milan's 2-1 goal. A substitution isn't the same as having the unbridled support of a coach, but it's a big step forward from being placed on the bench solely for a lack of alternatives. In the twenty minutes he had, he did well: if I kept score correctly, he tried to go past his man (men) four times; he succeeded on three of those occasions. Often he sidestepped, and left for dead, two milanisti at a time.


I still don't think Guberti is a great footballer, even if he has a skill set his team mates mostly lack (and a consistent smile, just look at those photos - shows he's been working at that, too), and I don't think he's the silver bullet solution for what ails Roma. But his attitude and work ethic in turning around his own fortunes, and the trust shown in him by Ranieri, is encouraging. If more players took Guberti's example to heart, Ranieri has already shown that they would be rewarded come Sunday.