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Roma 0 - Inter 1: Inter win the Coppa Italia, Roma must have rolled over.


Before I begin, someone should tell Jon Arne Riise that his schooling by Eto’o is over. Jon is still doesn’t have a prayer of catching him.

What is a good manager?

There are a lot of theories. It’s player selection. It’s tactics. It’s training ground. It’s game prep. It’s game management. It’s player purchases. It’s all of it. Some don’t think that they are very important at all and that they are interchangeable.

This is what I think, especially in the weird world of Calcio: Its preparing the players to win each game during the season. Will every game get won? Of course not, but I think that it’s an art for a manager to put his team in a position where they have an opportunity to test their fates.

Here’s what I mean. During the Inter press conference for this game, barring the brasher, harsher talk of one of the individuals, you could have interchanged the two men involved. Both Zanetti and Mourinho spoke of wanting THIS trophy. Both men spoke of focusing on THIS game. Both men spoke of the challenges in THIS game. Moratti chimed in too, that issue from the weekend was between those two Rome clubs, and THIS game is what WE are thinking/training/concentrating on.

In the lead up to this game, I didn’t get the same singleness of purpose from the other club that I got from the Inter side. From the Owner, to the Manager, to the Captain there was one message: We are here for one purpose. By the way, the players on the field all looked daggers at the kick off. The message was received. The players were not nervous, they rose to the occasion and didn’t get overwhelmed. Roma looked very overwhelmed, especially after they went down.

To me, that is the start of identifying a good manager. It also helps if he’s a devious son of a bitch…

My Inter Player of the Game is the only one to keep his cool the entire match. He was too much for the Roma attack on his side of the field which is why they worked the middle of the field late into the 1st half and the other side of the field into the 2nd.




Cesar: Julio was called into action only a few times tonight. As with the last game, the most dangerous Roma chance came through a ricochet. Without them, Roma has a hard time getting good shots inside the area on us. They didn’t do much to threaten from open play although a finger tap of the ball past Toni probably saved the game. 7.0

Zanetti: More on why Zanetti is here instead of Maicon later. Zanetti was able to completely close off the right flank so that Mirko Louganis had to cut into the middle to make any impact on this game. Javier frequently dragged players back from the instigations of the Roma players and he made sure that it was he who talked to the ref as much as possible in order to keep others from getting into trouble. It’s smart and canny play especially for a team with a lot of hot headed competitors. 8.5

Cordoba: He was quicker, better on the jump and able to get into position to defend faster than the Glacial Giant. He was stronger, which was the only way that Toni got best of Cordoba. The amount of shirt tugging he perpetrated on the diminutive defender without a foul makes any claim he has made for penalties pretty funny in my book. I say this over and over – they think it’s only ok when they do it to us. Luca should be ashamed at how easily he was handled. 6.0

Materazzi: I made the mistake last article of saying that Marco didn’t play a huge part in this season and Johonna slapped me down for it. Well, he certainly did his job today. He was punched twice by Mexes this game (check La Gazzetta and every replay there is on this game) – one could/should have been a penalty if we want to start counting up noncalls - and Mexes should have been ejected after the first one. Marco put a hard tackle onto Mirko Louganis, which he was rightly booked for but since there wasn’t a clear goal scoring opportunity it wasn’t too terrible. The rest of the game he did fine, controlling the skies of the penalty area. 6.0

Chivu: Chivu wasn’t as reliable as Zanetti, but then, few are. He did his job, kept his cool and made some nice interceptions. He’s a solid player and was dependable defensively. I don’t think that he did much offensively except taking a pot shot here or there. His attacking was more a product of Taddei dogging it and not pressuring consistently. 6.0

Maicon: Maicon, relieved of much of his defensive duties and given free reign to mix and match with Eto’o, gave Riise fits and was perfect against whatever formation Roma was implementing that left a huge crater of space on the right midfield. Offensively, he combined well with Eto’o and made Roma shift everything to the right. There was more than one occasion that Mario, on the left, had a chance to score after getting left all alone as the defenders shifted to the right. A chance is all we ask for. 7.0

Cambiasso: He was a destroyer in the midfield and when he wasn’t destroying, he was harrying and pressuring. Even better, when he got the ball back he’s able to make nice passes to retain possession. Mourinho couldn’t have a better midfielder for his system this side of Essien – but Cambiasso is much less injury prone than Essien. Combined with Motta to make Perotta, Pizzarro and De Rossi disappear 7.0

Motta: If this game could be characterized by anything other than the fact that Totti flipped his wig… again… and again… it was that Inter controlled the midfield against a team that, theoretically, has much better personnel in this department. Cuchu and Motta combined to stifle almost everything that came right down the middle. Using Motta who can make nice passes and tackle like a demon to pressure and ruthlessly take advantage of the situation offensively is choice. He made nice – and not nice – tackles all game long, but he also made the pass that sprung Milito. Motta is turning into a big game player. He’s also starting to stay healthy. 8.0

Eto’o: One of the disappointing things about last night – besides the way that Roma tried to steer this game from the 5 minute mark – was that Eto’o’s amazing run down the right; the one where Riise tried to grab him around midfield, then again ten yards later, then again ten more yards later and then fell on his ass on the endline after the sweet move Eto’o put on him after he tried to grab Eto’o again; came up short. Eto’o should have buried that and if it wasn’t for Juan, who saved his team’s ass, I think that he would have with extreme prejudice. 7.0

Wesley: Wes was only on the field for about 5 minutes. His exit was thanks to Burdisso who planted his cleats in his thigh and set the tone for whatever passed for Roma’s game plan. It was a dangerous play with intent to hurt – which means red – but Rizzo won’t give those easily, unless it’s us, but it warranted at least a yellow. Wes was obviously rushing himself back before he was completely ready. I admire his guts, but we have players who are gutsy and gritty. We need silky smooth, killer instinct Wesley on the field. N/A

Milito: How awesome is Milito? He took on essentially the whole Roma defence after Motta’s wonderful pass found him with space in front of him. He made quite a nice run and put in a real striker’s shot from just about the penalty area. It was a chance that came without much risk to the rest of the team, I think he was the only one that far forward, and I think that the rest of the team was still on our side of midfield. It was a terrible lapse on their part, but they should have been ready for a player like Milito. 7.5

Balotelli: He came in, in an emergency and he did his job. I don’t care if Mario screws up a pass or a shot or takes an ill advised try at both. I care if he follows the plan. I care if he does his best. He was reliable – if only for this game – and there seems to be some reconciliation of a sort, but we will see. Besides I think he did quite a good job getting past whoever was playing fullback on his side. I feel like I am forced to let him take his ridiculous shot once a game – kind of like I do with Maicon, although I feel like Maicon has done more to earn it than Mario has. 7.0

Muntari: Sully came in to help protect the lead and let’s be honest, to help protect another cowardly sneak attack on Mario. When Taddei changed his provoking attacks from Motta onto Muntari it and planted his cleats into Muntari’s thigh, it was interesting to see Sully knock down a man whose head alone was taller than his entire body. N/A

Samuel: The Wall came onto his old stomping grounds and did a wonderful job against Toni. Toni, who is nearly famous for his diving and shirt tugging as Walter is. Samuel has been a rock for us for several years and this game was no exception. He has sacrificed his body and future ability to play the rest of the season to win this game. I thought that he did a good job against Toni and I thought that he did very well against whatever they were playing after that. 7.0


This is the look of a well prepared man before a cup final... even the Coppa Italia

This is the look of a well prepared man before a cup final... even the Coppa Italia

Look, I don’t want to overstate the significance of winning the Coppa. It’s nice that we won it, but if we don’t win at least one more trophy to accompany it in the cabinet, will this be a successful season?

I still don’t have an answer to that question… but I think that this team is capable of winning at least one more. I guess that if they want to end the season having done their best then the answer is no.

On the other hand, we put up with a lot of shit from Roma, the players, the fans and the press. So fuck’em, let’em stew after they have been exposed for what they are. No word yet from she in the golden crib on who should be ashamed after that game or how many toys she threw lately (man, I gotta stop listening to British podcasts)…

Back to the game…

What is a good Manager?

A manager puts plans together to give his team the chance to win a game. It can be training, it can be formation and it can be game preparation.

I had a good feeling about this game when all the news out of Roma was about the Lazio game. When I read about the fans outside the hotel, I thought about Barcelona and I thought that we had a good thing going. When the players came out and the Roma anthem was playing I was laughing, "That's right, it's the sprinklers all over again. Show how worried you are!" Bottom line, all these things indicated that the team and the fans were nervous. Especially the fan who ran on the field to attack Combiasso. Stay classy Roma!

In my last article I said that this game was going to come down to, for us, whether Mourinho wanted the trophy or not. My questions were answered at the news conference that I indicated in the opening and I was so impressed with. There was a singleness of purpose between the Manager and the players. This is always a good sign of excellent communication as long as there is a plan of action to communicate.

But we had a real plan that was followed from start to finish regardless of personnel. From what I can tell it looked a little like this:

1. Control the middle. Press the quick counter on interceptions up in the center circle or farther up (this is where the goal came from, Motta intercepts and launches Milito). Work the ball up the sides and attack the flanks if no counter is possible.
2. Get into defensive position as the ball is coming into the defensive third, then press. Force the pass square, back or the long shot. Trust Cesar to cover the area and don’t obviously foul to cover a mistake. Do not allow headers.
3. Out of touch or corners are not the worst case scenarios.

And this is the real difference that I see between Mourinho and Ranieri. I never get the feeling that Ranieri is comfortable with the flow of the game. I don’t think that he gives his team an identity and I thought this when he was at Juve too. What part of the field was Ranieri focusing on restricting space or taking advantage of? I didn’t see anything like that last night and I think that it showed on the composure of the players. Ranieri brings a lot to a team, but there are times I just think, what was he trying to accomplish? That was the feeling I was left with from his team last night. I think this is why his career has been what it was, instead of what it could have been.

Okay, so that game is over and we have exactly 3 games until the end of the season… and it has been a marathon, folks. I don’t know how we are going to come back from this next September.