Roma’s first match with Daniele De Rossi as head coach was a 2-1 victory over Hellas Verona on Saturday.
Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Lorenzo Pellegrini – each involving the other player, with Stephan El Shaarawy being the link in between – in the first half set Roma up for the win, although they rode their luck in the second half, seeing the visitors miss a penalty but score a consolation.
Work to do for De Rossi then as he gets a grip on the squad he has inherited from Jose Mourinho, but an important, morale-boosting three points in the bag nonetheless upon the former captain’s much-anticipated return to Stadio Olimpico.
Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire analyses three themes from the match – one starting with each of the first three letters of the alphabet.
Audible disapproval from crowd reminds players of their responsibility
As the first game since the sacking of Mourinho, which is a topic that certainly does not have a univocal reception from the Roma fanbase – likewise for the appointment of De Rossi – there was bound to be a mixed reaction in the stadium ahead of kick-off.
When the stadium announcer read out the starting lineup, most of the players’ names were responded to with jeers rather than cheers (with a few exceptions).
It was the Olimpico’s way of reminding the players in front of them that they too are responsible for where Roma were in the table prior to kick off (as was Mourinho; this is a situation where the blame can easily be spread and not pinpointed).
And Roma have shown, by firing one of the most high-profile coaches they have ever appointed – not to mention the first chosen in the Friedkin era – that arguably nobody is beyond harsh judgement if the situation dictates.
Thus, even the higher profile members of the squad should have received a wake-up call. Whatever the foundations – whether it came from the coach, crowd, within or a combination – Roma’s intensity in the opening 45 minutes seemed to indicate an answer.
Bove produces standout senior performance for Roma
Mourinho, the man who gave Edoardo Bove apps 2-73 of his Roma career, may have departed, but that ‘sick dog’ nickname he attributed to him isn’t going away, is it?
What Jose called him charmingly, in reference to his tireless energy across the the midfield, seems to be sticking, so he’d better like it.
After Mourinho took Bove under his wing, the midfielder seems to have the ideal next coach for his development in De Rossi, a player he will have watched and idolised while growing up a Roma fan.
Quite simply, Bove was brilliant during De Rossi’s dugout debut. All that energy he has become accustomed to displaying was evident again, but with a refined maturity.
Bove was one of the few Roma players not booed before kick-off and his performance showed why he is becoming loved by his people.
Boasting a 92% pass completion rate on the night, Bove showed more creativity than he has sometimes, spotting insightful ways to bring teammates into the game. Never dispossessed either, he was an all-action midfielder.
Indeed, those unrelenting defensive traits were also at the fore; Bove won six out of six tackles he attempted (second only to a rejuvenated Pellegrini). He also made eight recoveries and won 10 duels on the ground.
This was the performance of a proper senior player, not an academy product with potential. Now 74 games into his first-team career, Bove is becoming a crucial cog.
Comeback risk acts as warning of continuing process
While the first half was suggestive of a new dawn for Roma, the second was a reminder of the reality they have been in.
The play became less confident and some pressure was invited on from Verona, who had a disallowed goal on top of the one they scored and the penalty they missed.
Perhaps it was a good thing; a cruising win could have – but probably wouldn’t with a character like De Rossi at the helm – allowed some complacency to creep in, or at least put some of the recent issues on the pitch to the backs of players’ minds.
Given the situation Roma have been in, such a scenario could not be afforded. Now, there should be a recognition of the improvements they have immediately made and the ones they will still have to.