Sindrome Greco

Corrected: the omission of Phillipe Mexès in the A-list is unforgivable and very, very wrong. Now it's correct, thanks to watchful reader Ian.
 
Whatever decoy or stunt double Claudio Ranieri hired to fool everyone into thinking he was on the job for the first two weeks of August has been deactivated. Now he's back, and the fun and games are over. The Levante, Pescara and Grosseto results? A thorn in his side. The Olympiakos result? The line, and subsequent crossing thereof. Loria playing a single minute in a Roma shirt again? That was the past, this is the future. Starting Tuesday and running at least until the final practice session before Saturday's Supercoppa game, Ranieri has divided his Roma into two groups; the ones who can ball, and the ones who either can't or are the guys in the room everyone kind of wishes weren't there. The latter group has to train on its own in the afternoon, as if not to disturb the A-team (or make sure Loria doesn't influence anyone any further).

Group A:
Julio Sergio, Lobont, Pena; Burdisso Jr., Cassetti, Juan, Mexès, Riise, Rosi; Brighi, De Rossi, Ménez, Perrotta, Pizarro, Simplicio, Taddei; Adriano, Okaka, Totti, Vucinic 

Group Get-the-Hell-Out:
Doni; Andreolli, Antunes, Cicinho, Loria; Barusso, Cerci, Faty, Greco, Pit*; Baptista  
* It is correct to put him down as a midfielder, right? Sorry, "midfielder"

The only thing about Group A that sticks out is that Pena is our third goalkeeper. That is notable for two reasons, the first being the ostensible shunning of Valerio Frasca, former primavera goalkeeping talent extraordinaire. Hopefully it's in order to let him grow with loan experience, but this is AS Roma and you can never be sure of anything. The second notable is that after years of having a goalkeeping personnel made up of anything between four and eleven Brazilian goalkeepers at any given time, two thirds of Roma's goalkeepers are now Romanian. No big whoop, I'm just noting a fact.

More things to discuss about the group of outcasts and undesirables; if we didn't already know it, the three amigos of Doni, Cicinho and Baptista are for sale, and AS Roma would be most thrilled should anyone care to pick up their heavy contracts. Please? Andreolli looks to be on the move as well (and as predicted). The rest that make up the group are completely unsurprising, save for one name: Leandro Greco. No one would be surprised by his detachment from the senior squad two months ago, or even one single month ago, but he has since put in a good preseason and started most games in the absence of the team's regista Pizarro. At 24, he's hardly a talent any longer and it's almost as if he came in out of a vacuum and it just blended with where the team was at during July and early August. Since Roma doesn't take their due diligence seriously when loaning out young players, Greco has hardly played at all in the past two years and while his good impression of the past month is sure to have attracted more serie B teams to his trail, his eight (8) games over the past two seasons shows that loaning him out for growth may not always work out without a hitch.

Ranieri wants a concentration of quality these last days before the season kicks off in earnest, and I both get and applaud that. But I wish there were room for Greco in this group, because it would make a quite endearing story arch; having been lost at sea like Ulysses, he would return to Roma under the guidance of Ranieri. After all, if Ranieri could bring back Julio Sergio from the wilderness (in this case the wilderness of Trigoria's staff entrance and assumed moonlight shifts as the team's chef), why not again with Greco?

But the trip to Greece changed all of that. No room for beautiful stories, not after that sort of rude awakening. At least not for now.