Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

If the murmuring at half time was that the last days of protest had woken the players up, those murmurs gained audibility when Totti scored Roma's third goal. It didn't last long. To be sure, Roma had looked decidedly more on edge at the start of this game than in weeks past. But when Genoa scored once, they soon scored twice. When they had scored twice, the rest of the game had an uncomfortable air of unavoidability about it, and 3-3 started feeling like a good result, rather than a nightmare in real time. 4-3, however, is a goal too far. So much for the protests as a functioning measure. So much for the belief that anything happens precisely because of what preceded it.

Dissecting this afternoon's game — and I'm not so sure it's all that relevant any longer, considering the bigger news of Ranieri's dismissal — will be carried out in a swift and decisive manner: Roma didn't play great, but it had little to do with why the game was lost. The only glaringly obvious change not made was to put on Pizarro, which would have helped retain possession. That would have been helpful. Apart from that, it was all mentality. Hasn't it always been mentality with this team? We closed out Wednesday's CL loss on that very note: the problem which Ranieri would have loved nothing more than to eradicate was still there. Last year turned out to be a patch work on the team's mentality issues, the longterm effects indistinguishable.

Having never seen a good story arch I didn't like, it's a shame Ranieri's time ended in this way. Had he walked away last summer, he would forever be heralded as a modern day Cincinnatus who saved the land and returned from whence he came. Cincinnatus is a legend, however, precisely because he did what many would not or could not. After collecting more points than any Roma coach has before him, it's not strange that Ranieri felt he owed it to himself to give it another try this season. Instead, he now risks being seen as a curse, his incredible first season mixed in with this unfortunate and, well, bad second one until they're impossible to tell apart. That would be a shame, his first season deserves an intact reputation. The one in progress is open season, however. But his blame only stretches so far. This season has been bad and has laid bare many of the flaws of Ranieri's leadership. But they make up but one part of the concoction that is Roma's nigh elimination from CL and 8th place in serie A. The players themselves are surely culpable as well, and the prolonged hand-over of executive power in the club has been particularly stifling. The latter was about to rectify itself, and now Ranieri has pushed the envelope, he has fallen on his sword. All that remains is for the players to respond responsibly.