Roma 1-0 Bari; Ménez 1-0 World; Ranieri 1-0 TV

For a good grasp of football in Rome, it is seldom enough to keep one's eyes on the pitch of the Olimpico and what takes place there. This applies perhaps more now than ever before. If one would have watched only what happened yesterday afternoon against Bari, the verdict would be that of a tolerable result, even if not optimal. A slow opening half followed by marked improvement in the second secured a 1-0 win, in which Roma weren't even threatened by its opponent (until the 92nd minute, of course, when they were). Ménez had a field day, and Mexès joined him in dictating play from a new midfield position I am pretty sure he commandeered of his own volition. The win was the sixth straight home win, and the fourth clean sheet during that run. So it should be all smiles, right?

Well, it's not. In the post-game interview with Sky, Ranieri got into a shouting match with the hosts who kept pressing him to admit a breakdown in his relations with Pizarro, seeing as the latter did not play yet again. The result was a less than dignified exhibition on both parts, although I would find it hard not to side with Ranieri on mere principle. That Pizarro is a key-stone in his team I don't believe have changed much at all in the weeks he's been out injured, so I am ready to take Ranieri at his word that Pek just isn't ready yet. And if there's one thing I do on this blog, it is...well, it's to crack jokes about Claudio Lotito, but if I could name two things, they would also include riding for Pek. At the first suspicion that Pizarro's getting the boot in favor for Brighi or some such half-figure, I'm taking to the barricades: no revolution is planned. Also relevant is the fact that Mauro and Sconcerti, against whom Ranieri acted out are generally disagreeable beings, old remnants of Moggi's media system. Choosing sides isn't that hard after all, when push comes to shove.

The row was a loud one, but ultimately without substance and nutrition. More disconcerting is Roma's failure to yet win away from home in the league this season, only one away game remaining before we put an end to 2010. Milan and Ibrahimovic plays host on Saturday, in a game with slim hopes for being the one where this odd and unflattering duck is broken (and which could leave Roma stranded 13 points off the pace, in case some of you are still counting). Also troubling is that despite Ménez and Mexès impressing, the rest of the team did not. And this was a game against a Bari with fewer points than anyone in the league, with almost an entire team out due to injury. Yes, Roma missed a penalty and should unarguably have had a brilliant goal by Borriello allowed, but winning only by a goal's margin seems so weak and feeble that it's a trial of character to remain positive and upbeat.