NEWS DIGEST – Claudio Ranieri’s AS Roma homecoming is quickly threatening to turn sour with the veteran coach facing a multitude of problems ahead of Sunday’s match against Napoli.
Ranieri, who was appointed one week after being fired by English Premier League (EPL) side Fulham, appears to have leapt from the frying pan into the fire.
He was in charge for three months at the London side.
Having been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Portuguese side FC Porto, which led to the downfall of predecessor Eusebio Di Francesco, things have not gone well since.
Fifth-placed AS Roma have lost ground in the race for the UEFA Champions League places next season.
They are four points adrift of the top four, a place where they must finish at to qualify.
Napoli are second with 60 points, 15 behind runaway leaders Juventus who host Empoli on Saturday.
Rome-born Ranieri, in his second stint in charge of the club where he also began his playing career, has inherited a team plagued by injuries and form problems.
The team also has an infuriating tendency to switch off during matches.
Having beaten Empoli in his first game, Ranieri’s side then lost 2-1 to SPAL, continuing a string of defeats against teams from the lower half of the table.
Ranieri gave a withering assessment of the performance against SPAL.
“We need to be more determined, more of a team and also improve our tactics, because we ran hard, but with no real reasoning and that’s not good enough,” he said.
Italian media reported that tempers flared in the Roma dressing-room at halftime at SPAL with a furious row between strikers Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko.
The club have not commented on the reports.
Roma go into Sunday’s match with injury problems, something which has been a feature of their season.
El Shaarawy and full back Alessandro Florenzi both left the Italy squad with calf problems during the international break and are unavailable.
Daniele De Rossi, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Javier Pastore are doubtful.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica, in an article, calculated that Roma’s squad have suffered 40 muscular injuries between them this season.
There are also worries about the form of goalkeeper Robin Olsen after his performance in the 3-3 draw for Sweden against Norway on Tuesday.
There were then suggestions that Ranieri could turn to Antonio Mirante.
Olsen’s long-term future at the club, after some unconvincing displays, is also in doubt.
Meanwhile, forward Diego Perotti denied comments by his father Hugo, a former player, about a possible return to Argentina to play for Boca Juniors.
“My father dropped me in it and I’m angry,” Perotti told a media outlet in Argentina.
“I still have two years of my contract to go and I’m not returning to Argentina at the moment.”
Ranieri warned that the players were playing for their future at the club.
“There’s a plan in place if Roma get into the UEFA Champions League. If we don’t, quite a few of these guys could change clubs,” he said.
“I can’t say if there will be a revolution if Roma don’t qualify for the UEFA Champions League, but if they don’t get the revenue from that competition something will inevitably have to change.” (Reuters/NAN)