Signs o' the Times

This is Roma, on the threshold between October and November of 2009: a captain missing for 23 days, and in the best of worlds, one without complications, he won't be back for at least that long yet; a divided fan base; injuries on everyone, on everything; and a coach whose words carry undertones that suggest that if things seems tranquil, that is an illusion which only by miracle won't burst.

Totti started yesterday as he would any other, but all of a sudden, somewhere between lunch and coffee, it was decided that he would need surgery for his knee. Said and done, later in the afternoon he limped out of the clinic Villa Stuart, having had eight minutes of work done on the cursed knee by prof. Mariani. I think those who question Mariani's competence are fantastically blinded and ungrounded, as the very act of calling into question his competence implies they somehow (precisely how is unclear) know better. But I'm not opposed to bringing it up and reflecting on the ad hoc manner in which the operation came about: it sounds weird that that's the kind of thing you decide over a lunch. In any regard, he's said to be back in three weeks if there are no complications. Expect complications.

Others are injured as well: Riise, Burdisso, Ménez, Pizarro (and perhaps Doni) won't make it for Udinese tonight. The absence of Pizarro, in particular, is troublesome as it constricts the midfield into a swamp of (hard?) work and grinding, and almost no altruism or creativity. Chris at The Offside:
What they didn’t do was put the ball in the net, which is how one wins football games. No Totti, no party? Sure, but that’s missing the underlying reason. No Pizarro, no party? Now you’re getting somewhere. No vision, no creativity, no link, no party? There we go.
Though most outfits would have you believe Ranieri walked onto the podium and sobbed over the absence of Totti and its crippling effect on the team, his actual words included that Chilean dwarf. . . . Why? No link, no passing, no creativity, no conductor. There we go: No conductor, no party. Either will work, neither spells disaster.
So it's a collection of lost souls lining up against Udinese tonight. Listening to Ranieri's press conference does nothing but reinforce that belief:
It's hard to mold something which isn't your own. I don't think what I'm saying is sensational. Did I make this team? No, it became mine. I took it in sprint and now I'm trying to make the players understand my thoughts. We have to give it our maximum effort, and I don't want to jerk the fans around: it will be a year of sacrifice and disappointments. My desire and will to succeed is there: it's not a lot, but it's guaranteed.
He's perfectly right: this isn't his team, it isn't his creation. But in saying it after one point during the last three games it can come across as apologetic, as Ranieri saving his face and reputation. That's a discourse on its own, but I won't hold it here: no matter if you believe that or not, more important is the sense that Ranieri is finding the team difficult to work with, to make it adhere to his view of football. Right now it doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong, that there is a problem is the problem; not who caused it.

For Ranieri to address this, in this way, to me implies underlying issues that won't be worked out by time alone. More drastic measures seems obligatory, but it's anyone's guess how those would come about.

The fact that the Friulian hosts have lost three game in a row is still undecided whether it shall give me some hope; or allign with the theory of probablity and scare the living light out of me. I hope it will have landed on either side of the fence soon, this to-and-fro is unnerving.