Ce truov ind 'o rione, nun me sente bbuon mammà

It Started in Naples is a film from 1960, which despite the pull of bona fide superstars like Clark Gable and Sofia Loren, isn't a very good one. Something about more than fame and star status being required to make a compelling impression and gain a favorable result. 40 years later, we can point to another woeful, utterly regrettable thing which started in Naples: Ranieri's bastardized three man defense. He's coached Roma in 58 games now (67 counting summer friendlies), yet used a three man defense only twice. Both times were in Naples against a Napoli which also uses that system, and I'm far removed from embracing that as a funny coincidence.

It speaks of a preoccupation with the actions of others and a lack of trust in the team's normal way of doing things. Of his own mentality towards coaching, he's said that:
I try to speak little about the opposing team and worry more about my own, most of all to instill an active mentality. I don't like basing the game on the opposition.
There's nothing wrong or disturbing with the quote itself, and quite contrary it can indeed provide a sense of being proactive and instilling your own superiority on to a game. Can't we all identify with that desire, even if some of us should happen to not be professional football players in perhaps the most storied of all the World's football leagues? Would it not be rewarding to be the one that sets the agenda others will follow, in whatever field? But when it comes to this aspect of Ranieri's professional life, it's more empty words and wishing on a star than detached analysis from afar. The worst results of Roma's season up to this point has occurred in games in which Ranieri has, in fact, been reactive rather than proactive:

Away to Cagliari, when Burdisso's red card meant that Ranieri perhaps overreacted and took off Totti with more than an hour left to play. As far as these examples go, this is the most forgivable one seeing the predicament of playing with ten men, but it's still on here for a reason. For all the talk of Cagliari's might at their own stadium, their winning percentage there last season was below 50%, so it was all but an inevitable result.

Away to Bayern, when Roma featured the most workmanlike midfield a Roma side has used since Capello ran his tight ship seven years ago. Just to get a result, which was both far away and close at the same time. A lot more can be said about that game, but no one can justify that midfield without using some version of Roma adapting in order to stifle Bayern's offense, and walk away with credibility intact.

Away to Napoli, when their three man defense, and three man attacking trident pushed Ranieri into the silly trap of thinking his team, which adopted the tactic and strategy for an afternoon, could better the team that's played that way for 40+ games straight.

The tactic today failed doubly. Both in that Totti and Borriello were so isolated from any other teammates that there could in essence be no organic chances created. It felt and looked forced whenever it did happen, with the team stretched out for the majority of the length of the pitch. It also failed in denying Napoli the type of chances the three man defense was ostensibly used to combat, yet the home team could counter attack with a long ball over the defense on many occasions. Only some good plays by Lobont kept Roma alive at that point, but it couldn't last, and didn't.

Un po' di sana retorica

It wasn't merely the starting formation, though. The substitutions did not only fail to amend the situation, they largely worsened it. I'm not even touching the battle-to-death disguised as thoughtful debate of whom among Totti, Ménez and Borriello should be the one to go, because I think it's a simplistic dichotomy the players wouldn't recognize themselves. The only correct answer to whether Ménez, Totti or Borriello should have been the one be subbed off at half time is none of them, every other answer being a red herring. Save for injuries and red cards, no substitutions are forced. They're not inevitable in any way. Speaking in terms of who of the three attacking players should go off, as if it were a necessity that one does so, is drinking the kool-aid served from the bench.

But despite all of this, I would still rather pour Ranieri's kool-aid into a nearby plant and go along with him, rather than being faced with the kool-aid of a new coach. The devil you know, and all that.