The Honorable Point

Roma continues to be predictably unpredictable. Taking home 4 points out of 15 possible the last couple of weeks, and then going to the home of the dominant team in the league and being closer to victory is vintage Roma. When you least expect a fuck up; expect it. When things are bleak and you least expect a heroic performance against superior opposition; expect something heroic to go down.

Tonight's 1-1 with Inter is the very definition of an honorable draw. The game was conditioned by the injury list (as always only just a few pages shorter than the phone book of Rome); by the constant fouling of Inter (which added to the aforementioned injury list); by the referee who allowed said constant fouling to take place (26 fouls committed by Inter; 11 by Roma). Yet Roma was closer to the win by the time it was over, and after falling back into hold habits right after the break and allowing Inter to pull level, they shut the place down. Not so much as a chance was created by Inter for the rest of the game, while Roma paradoxically became more comfortable as the game progressed, and was both more willing and effective than Inter in going for a second goal.

Ménez continues to confirm himself as a player of great talent; every week he seems to add more things, or maybe it's merely him becoming more integrated within the system and looking even more dangerous in the process. His shot is still a bit hit and miss (at any given time, it feels like 50/50 if he'll get off a high powerful shot, or a shot bouncing harmlessly towards the goalkeeper), but his dribbling keeps many a defender occupied. He's become more consistent in hitting the through ball in those occasions, and don't dribble 9 times out of 10 any longer, making him harder to read and a terror to defenders from Bergamo to Catania, and everywhere in between. Pulling him at the end for Tonetto wasn't necessarily a brave choice by Ranieri, but the result and point proves him right. (Ménez was also completely spent at that point, the only grief to be had is over the choice of Tonetto) Also, it's impossible to talk about the game and ignore the pink elephant with scrappy beard: on the one hand, Vucinic missed a must-be goal. On the other hand, he scored a very good goal when you couldn't even really expect him to touch the ball. Maybe that evens itself out, and makes it a push. He was more or less invisible for the rest of the game however, so the reasonable thing to do is not to go over board in praise, but still take solace in him scoring again. Repeat, repeat, repeat; hopefully it sticks soon.

During the summer I had a on-and-even-more-on running problem with Andreolli. His agent was running to the media every other day, saying Andreolli wanted out in order to play. My irritation stemmed from what I thought was a weak mentality. Being a back-up on paper in Roma means so little with all these injuries that he'd end up getting significant playing time in the end anyway. This game, tonight, was what I had in mind. He hardly took a step wrong in 90 minutes, and together with Mexès he dominated the play in front of Roma's goal, especially that of the air borne variety. As Andreolli showed tonight, he has the talent; all he needs to truly make good on the promise is the mentality to match it. If he uses this as a stepping stone he'll have earned a place in Roma's line up, or at least in heavy contention for one, by the end of the year. And that demands far more respect than taking the easier road by being a confirmed starter for a provincial team fighting off relegation (Lazio?).

This game is a bit like the same fixture last year. Then, too, Roma was of course knee deep in trouble but still came out of the night closer to the win than their richer, more famous, better assisted opponents. The aftermath of that game inspired the mad genius of Mourinho, who in a press conference went on a confusing, possibly medieval, tirade and professed his distaste for "intellectual prostitution". Fast forward some seven months to the day we call today, and witness Mourinho in his post game comments complaining about Inter being treated unfairly by the referee. I repeat: 26 fouls for Inter; 11 for Roma. Three yellow cards for Inter; two for Roma. I may indeed have lost count, but I recall vividly at least four bookable offenses each for Muntari, Motta, Stankovic, and two or three for Vieira; yet 11 Inter players were on the pitch at the 94th minute.

I'm probably intellectually prostituted for failing to see the obvious, which Mourinho sees.