Serie A 2011-2012 Preview: Roma Set For A Rollercoaster Of A Season

Immediately following their 1-0 first-leg loss to Slovan Bratislava in Europa League play, SB Nation brings you a preview of AS Roma's 2011-2012 season. This one is by Chris Govoni, who can be found at Roma Offside when he's not banging his head against a wall. (I imagine. After Thursday, anyway).

Roma in 2010-2011

Great expectations followed shortly by lots of fans looking at their watches, wondering just when the hell the season would be over, with a capitulation (or several) and a coaching change in the middle.

After Claudio Ranieri's wizardry in picking up the pieces when Luciano Spalletti resigned in 2009-10, bringing them to a scudetto fight on the final day, it seemed life would be grand with a full year under his stewardship and hopes were high. Unfortunately, the whole thing crumbled from the off, with the staunch defense and hardened mentality which had served as the backbone of its 09-10 success off on holiday in the Maldives, along with Mirko Vucinic's smile, which didn't help.

Claudio fell on his sword and playing legend, coaching novice Vincenzo Montella was brought in, which worked briefly, but was ultimately flawed, as the problem wasn't with the coach, who was also flawed, but rather in the locker room. As they were demolished by Shakhtar in the Champions League Round of 16 and barely scraping to a Europa League spot, it became clear heads were going to roll in the summer with a new ownership on the horizon.

In the summer, they rolled like Cicero on loop.

Goal of Last Season

The opposition, the timing, the assist, the celebration...the brilliantly unexpected essence of it all. Unfortunately, it sums up Vucinic's career for Roma, leaving him much missed.

Who's In?

The talented talen. Bojan's on some complicated purchase/loan deal from Barcelona, while Erik Lamela moves from River Plate and Jose Angel from Sporting Gijon, giving Roma three uniquely gifted youngsters. Maarten Stekelenburg isn't quite as young, but is the first sure thing in net from year-to-year outside of "I need an adult beverage." for quite some time. They also brought in Gabriel Heinze for his leadership and severe distaste of television cameras, with several empty seats for the purchases which are supposedly on the way as the window closes.

But the biggest signing was easily Walter Sabatini, supreme talent guru and soon-to-be recipient of lung cancer, who designated ex-Barca B head honcho Luis Enrique to lead the revolution from the seat of his bicycle.

Who's Out?

The productive talent. Philippe Mexes (Milan), Mirko Vucinic (Juventus), Jeremy Menez (PSG), Doni (Liverpool) and John Arne Riise (Fulham) takes five out of the usual starting lineup.

Though so is Simone Loria (No One), so that's addition by subtraction.

What to Expect from 2011-2012

A rollercoaster. New coach, new players, new ownership, new philosophy, new system, new direction - new everything. Simply lots of ups, downs and patches of both individual and team brilliance as they try to formulate a long-term project while remaining competitive in the short term. The scudetto is surely out of reach unless huge purchases come in the next week and a half and someone finds a way to stop time for all but Roma, allowing them a plethora of time to gel, but the goal will be to build a team capable of competing for years to come. A project. A project which they would seemingly like to look a lot like Barcelona. (Won't happen.)

Which means lots and lots of child laborers getting ample time, just like any good American-owned, foreign-based company.

Key Players

Francesco Totti - Every year the fans fight it to some extent, and by about February, they cave: Totti is Roma and as Totti goes, Roma often follows. A year older, but that has yet to take away any of his impact on the team.

Maarten Stekelenburg - The giant Dutchman was brought in for some serious quality and solidity after years of rotating Brazilians between the sticks. Problem is, this team is still patching together a defense like some community quilting project and will run a system biblically susceptible to the counter. Undoubtedly, he'll earn his paycheck more than anyone on the team - let's just hope it doesn't all go to the psychologist we all suspect he'll need by midseason.

Daniele De Rossi - A rock in midfield, he's seemingly taken his extraordinary off-pitch life - like an actual Italian edition of The Soprano's which began when his then wife's father was, yes, whacked - onto the pitch, thus missing games not through injury, but idiotic suspensions a result of equally idiotic behaviors. It's hard enough to find world class players. Keeping the few Roma has on the pitch when possible is paramount. And if he does, there are few, if any, better in the world at what he does than Daniele.

Potential Breakout Star

Can I cherrypick this? Why not.

Erik Lamela wakes up in the morning and starts at a default level of technical ability that sees his feet caress a bowl of Fruit Loops from the counter to breakfast table without a single drop of milk hitting the floor. He has all the earmarks for "don't expect too much too soon" - coming from a bad team across the pond, still young enough to shop at Aeropostale, zero Serie A experience, a busy summer with the u20 team which included an injury, feel free to stop me whenever... - and yet, truly gifted players are special. He's truly special.

Prediction

They're waltzing into a transition period with transitional ideologies, huge squad turnover and zero sense of urgency. 6th again, with lots of protests outside of Trigoria, which is obviously a big stretch, but what the hell - I'm feeling frisky.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.