Although Roma destroyed Palermo 5-0 on Sunday to claim its fifth straight victory in the Serie A, the situation in the Italian club is explosive, as captain Francesco Totti and manager Luciano Spalletti are not on the same page at all.
When Roma’s administration decided to appoint Luciano Spalletti as the new manager 40 days ago, the Italian coach seemed capable of leading the club back to the top and making Totti play to his potential once again.
The 39-year-old captain has barely played this season, as he is not in the ideal physical condition (since the beginning of the season), however his successful co-operation with Spalletti, during the Italian’s first spell in Roma (2005-09), could be considered a sign that Totti would manage to play at high standards again.
However, things have been different lately. Even though the Italian legend played for just six minutes in Roma’s home loss to Real Madrid on Wednesday (0-2), Spalletti was willing to use him as a starter on Sunday’s game against Palermo.
What Totti said about his coach, though, during an interview with the state broadcaster, Rai, turned things upside down. More specifically, Roma’s captain claimed that they didn’t have a good relationship, adding that he hoped Spalletti would have said straight to him the things that Totti had read in the papers.
For his part, the 56-year-old coach mentioned that his sole target is to get results, explaining that he makes the team selections on that basis and adding that “I coach Roma, not just Totti.”
It’s also worth mentioning that prior to (and after) Sunday’s game against Palermo, the Giallorossi’s fans expressed their annoyance at how Totti was treated by Spalletti.
More specifically, the Italian manager’s name was whistled loudly during pre-game introductions, while fans held up banners in support of Totti and applauded him, when he appeared in the stands.
Afterwards, Spalletti mentioned that the “situation with Francesco is already in the past”, as he is expecting him back in training this week.
With that being said, the question now is simple: What is next?
With Totti’s contact expiring at the end of the season, it’s still uncertain whether the legendary player will retire or not. During his interview, he stated that he feels young enough and wants to continue playing either for Roma or another club.
“I am in good shape, I am available, my contract expires in June and I will weigh up whatever comes along,” he said, mentioning that “I cannot keep going like this: I am suffering, the people around me are suffering. We’ll see what the future has in store.”
On the other hand, Spalletti really admires Totti, however his current priority is to bring Roma back to the title race.
“I need to restore the fortunes of this team and I cannot make him a special case,” he said, adding that “the last thing that I want to do is argue with him. At home I have a wall with shirts hanging up on it – and seven or eight of them are his.”
In addition, he suggested some different options for Totti, if the latter decides to retire at the end of the current season.
“With his personality, his charisma, he can do anything. I asked him: ‘Do you want to copy Giggs? You will do it. Do you want to be a footballer? Do it. Do you want to be like Nedved? Then do that.”
At the end, though, the situation is still unclear and nobody knows how things will turn out and whether it will affect the club’s effort to climb on top of the table.
One way or another, the arrival of President James Pallotta in the first days of March will certainly clarify the situation and will determine whether Francesco Totti’s legendary presence at “Olimpico” will soon come to an end, or if Luciano Spalletti’s second spell in the team will be a short one.