The Precipice

They say that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. It's an inspiring saying, a hopeful message. Normally, losing to a Juventus team as mediocre as this was would feel like a black hole consumed you from within. The despair, the agony, the bitterness of knowing that you both could and should have won a game against a, nay, the rival in one of its bleakest renditions in the postwar era. There is some of that still, a fair bit even. Seeing Riise lose his man on the far post, Perrotta as the main goalscoring threat, the coach reacting instead of acting. That is all a part of the same movie we saw two years ago. It's getting old. While I am incapable of speaking about this Juventus team without being condescending, their win wasn't very lucky or undeserved. They relied on a very good goalkeeper keeping them in the game long enough to be able to exploit the weak points of Roma's defense. It worked. Roma's first half was good, I thought, but the second half breakdown is such a constant factor during this season that no result would be considered healthy at half time. Certainly not 0-0 after 45 minutes which you've dominated and during which you should have done more. Again it comes back to that: should have but didn't, so others did. The story of 2011, and 2009 as well. It would be enough to kill one's soul from inside, if not for the stars visible in the dark.

DiBenedetto swung by Rome last week on a tour de force, callously forcing everyone involved to sit down and work hard. For hours on end! It yielded results and in between negotiating to buy AS Roma he met with Archpriests and ambassadors, downed a couple of bottles of spumante at Roma Club Testaccio and did an interview with Italian TV. And that was only day 2. Then he got into a car going north and convinced Walter Sabatini to join his staff and met with Franco Baldini. While Sabatini was all too happy to let everyone know he'd been offered a role and that he had accepted it, Baldini is more reserved. Publicly he refuses to take a stance on any offer before DiBenedetto officially has control of the club, which is of course the correct thing to do. Both morally and legally: he is employed by the English FA for another 15 months, there's no way for him to accept an offer right now. The prevailing hope and feeling is that he has accepted the role informally and will be in the midst of the new management. It would be hard for me to convey accurately just how excited this all makes me, but a rough draft would include a five year old kid and a new puppy. Franco Baldini is my shining light in a footballing world ever more distant and gloom. Perpetually armed with a mischievous smile, a joke and literary references going over the heads of almost everyone in football, he stands out. All of which would be nice but little more had he not also been the best at his job. I'm unable to contain myself and wait for confirmation of his hiring. I've long since started thinking about a new Roma with Baldini at its centre and it makes me a hopeless optimist for the future. The stars are out, I see them. Even in the depressing dark of last night, they're there.
 
I'm hopeful for the future of this club, even without attaining Champions League qualification for next season. DiBenedetto says it to vital that Roma qualify, but I'm sure the future of the club isn't hinged on making the Champions League one season. If he does hire and trust people as good as Baldini and Sabatini, the club is in good hands. If you'll excuse a lazy simile, it is not at all unlikely that Roma last night lost the battle but will end up winning the war against a rival also rebuilding. I'd say it's even probable.