Zdeněk Zeman: The 65 year-old Czech and AS Roma

Posted on November 2, 2012 by

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They knew it was never going to be an easy ride, but the Giallorossi fans always knew it would be fun.

We are only 10 games into the season but Zdeněk Zeman’s AS Roma were, yet again, on the wrong end of a five goal thriller – this time Parma inflicted the third 3-2 reverse of the season on the Giallorossi. However, the conditions at the Stadio Ennio Tardini on Wednesday were farcical. It’s commonplace for the floodgates to open when Roma play, but the rain that lashed down in Parma on Wednesday evening was of biblical proportions, yet it only seemed to increase the entertainment that was served up.

The game followed a familiar pattern for AS Roma, they took the lead when 20 year-old Erik Lamela (who has been invigorated under Zeman) whipped a left foot shot past the home keeper after just eight minutes. However, it wasn’t long before parity was resumed.

Roma defender, Ivan Piris, made a complete mess of a interception that left Belfodil clear through on goal. Three minutes later Parma were ahead as Parolo and Biabiany were falling over each other to bundle the ball home as the away defence went AWOL. Parolo, assisted by a puddle, was the eventual beneficiary.

Roma should have drawn level before Parma extended their lead. The home side was now using the standing water on the pitch to play one-two’s as Roma defended, well, like Roma do. Totti pulled one back as he scored the rebound from his missed penalty on 71 minutes but the damage had been done as Roma slipped to seventh in the league. Another blow to their ambitions of a third place finish.

AS Roma turned to Zdeněk Zeman over the summer as he returned to top flight management for the first time in over a decade, his achievements at Pescara last season offering him a final throw of the dice at a big club. Most folk of Zeman’s age would be looking into retirement, if not retired already, but the 65 year-old Czech coach looks far from ready to call it a day.

Many people will romanticise about Zdeněk Zemans return to Serie A with AS Roma, pointing out they are the perfect for each other, one wants to attack with style and the other wrote the handbook. Nonetheless, this kamikaze, yet highly entertaining brand of football is not without its drawbacks, especially in the modern game.

The insistence on attacking with numbers, home or away, will always leave the defence exposed and will take months, if not years to perfect – especially at the top level of the game. Zeman’s Pescara side conceded 55 goals last season, the worst defence in the top six but this was negated having scored 90 goals.

Zeman will not be able to replicate that in Serie A with AS Roma, the Giallorossi have already slumped to four defeats in ten games and have the worst defence in the league – conceding 19 goals in 10 games. On the positive side, as a neutral, it’s been a joy to watch Roma swarm around the opposition defence with carefree abandon and disregard for defending.

Despite the inconsistent results, the 65 year-old coach won’t change his ethos “I think a coach has to have some personal ideas and introduce them or try to carry them out by way of his players. I’m open to discussing them. But I also believe in my ideas, and until someone convinces me otherwise I’ll continue down my own path.” Zeman said before the Parma game.

The anti-Zeman brigade point to the military-style fitness regime he puts his players through as the reason for their sloppiness and inability to hold onto leads. But I disagree. When quizzed over the summer if he enjoys watching football he replied “I rarely do anymore, I still watch because I can’t help it. I’m addicted, but it’s not the same. It’s not my world anymore.”

That’s the underlying problem; it’s just not his world anymore.

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