As Roma: 4 Reasons Coach Zdenek Zeman Needs More Time
When it was revealed that Zdeněk Zeman would be returning to take over as coach of Roma, there was much rejoicing in the Italian capital.
Since the departure of Luciano Spalletti, Roma have failed to find a coach that could recapture his success with the Giallorossi. Claudio Ranieri, Spalletti's successor, was thought to be the man for the job, but floundered in the role.
Last season, Roma thought they would try something different by giving Luis Enrique, who was coaching Barcelona's B squad at the time, a shot at "top" European football.
Enrique brought the tiki-taka style, currently being used by Barcelona, to Roma. It never caught on with Roma, and Enrique was let go at the end of the season.
Zeman's return to Roma, where he coached from 1997-1999, came on the heels of his guiding Pescara to promotion from Serie B last season.
So far this season, however, results have been mixed for Zeman's Roma.
Nevertheless, we should not be quick to judge Zeman's results. He still needs time to continue working with his team.
1. He's Done More with Less Before
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At the time, Serie A was an ultra-defensive league. To say that tells a lot about that style, considering that the Italian league is still known as a "defensive" one.
Zeman was hired to coach Foggia in 1989—and he tried to change everything.
He brought with him a style based around the 4-3-3 formation, an all-out attack to keep defenses pressed.
In what would later become known as Zemanlandia, Zeman fielded a team of relative unknowns at Foggia to unbelievable results.
In his five years at Foggia, he managed to lead the team to promotion from Serie B, as well as some mid-table finishes in Serie A.
And in the three years Foggia spent in Serie A, they also challenged for the UEFA Cup in every season.
Though they never won a title or finished at the top of the league, the success of Zeman's team of unknowns was still remarkable.
With the appropriate time, his hard working tactics and philosophies will start to show in Roma's play and effort.
2. Rome Was Not Built in a Day
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Changing the culture of a soccer club is not something that just happens overnight. That is, unless you can afford to break the bank open for an entirely new team.
Though I doubt that even big spenders such as Manchester City are even capable of that.
With that being the case, it makes sense that Roma has hit some growing pains since Zeman took over the team.
There will be plenty more to come as well. The fact of the matter is that Roma have not been serious contenders for the Scudetto since they were runner-up in 2010.
Two years seems like a short time, but not for the Giallorossi and their fans. They expect top-three finishes and Champions League football.
Something needs to be changed, and it is evident that it is the team's philosophy.
Roma's recently had a revolving door of coaches and tactics, hoping that something sticks. Claudio Ranieri barely lasted two years. Vincenzo Montella finished out the 2011 season and wasn't brought back by the team, and last season was Luis Enrique's turn.
Now it's Zeman's.
Granted, there's something to be said about a club's confidence in one coach over another. As such, certain coaches would find themselves quickly out of favor and removed from their position.
If Roma is seriously confident that Zeman is the man for the job, then they need to be willing to deal with the growing pains.
3. The Team Still Needs to Adapt to His Tactics
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It's common knowledge in any sport that when you leave yourself open, you're more vulnerable to attack.
Zeman's employment of the 4-3-3 formation already puts Roma in a vulnerable position defensively. Now add the fact that Zeman's tactics also focus on an all-out attack when Roma has possession.
For a strong defense, it's manageable. For everyone else, it's disastrous. So far, Roma's experiment has been disastrous.
You could argue, then, that Zeman should just switch up his tactics to play a little less offensively and cover for any defensive lapses.
That's not Zeman's approach. In fact, I doubt he even cares.
It seems clear that Zeman will gladly allow opposing teams to score—as long as his team outscores the opposition.
With that, plus the growing pains I alluded to in the previous slide, it's no surprise that the team is having trouble adapting to this style of play.
You're usually taught, if nothing else, to be responsible defensively. While Zeman isn't saying to not be responsible defensively, he is saying that you're going to be scored on. It's inevitable.
As individual players and as a team, you will either adapt to this new style or you won't.
If you're not buying into the style, Zeman is not afraid to drop you from the team and tinker with his lineup.
4. Changing of the Old Guard
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During Zeman's first tenure with Roma, Francesco Totti was still a "future" star. It wasn't until Zeman left that Totti began to come into his own as a player.
This was not a reflection on Zeman, though. It had more to do with Totti's natural player maturation that came with age.
With that maturation and star quality, Totti became the face of Roma. Every young fan wanted to be him, and he was the one featured in all the advertisements for the team.
Regardless of how many other great players Roma had, this was Totti's team. The team's play ran through him.
While it still may be Totti's team, he's not getting any younger. No doubt, the skill is still there for Totti, but who knows how much longer he will play?
It's time for Roma to start to forge a new identity that will be at the forefront of the post-Totti era. This begins with Zeman's appointment as coach.
A new coach, a new era and new style of play: that's what Zeman represents. If he's given the time and the team adapts, then we will start to see the new identity form.
Will it be another player standing out amongst the rest, one who takes over Totti's role as the face of Roma? Obviously.
There's no doubt, though, that all this begins and ends with a complete buy-in to what Zeman has to offer the club.