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Roma’s Victory Fails To Hide Identity Crisis

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The Giallorossi started a run of seven matches in just over three weeks with a 5-2 win at the Stadio Olimpico against newly-promoted Benevento on Sunday evening.

All is still not well behind the scenes at Trigoria however, with coach Paulo Fonseca using the International break to criticise the club’s summer transfer window which saw the them fail to bring in Polish striker Arek Milik and miss out on other primary targets, as well as bidding farewell to club stalwart Alessandro Florenzi.

The fact that Roma are still searching for a new director of sport after the departure of Gianluca Petrachi has not helped the situation and with the imposing figure of new owner Dan Friedkin lurking in the background, Fonseca knows that his job is far from secure.

The new patron has emphasised that the Giallorossi will focus on developing young talent, but if a clear sign was needed that coach and owner are not quite operating on the same wavelength, then the successful pursuit to bring centre-back Chris Smalling back to the capital is proof that Fonseca still requires a squad which mixes a blend of youth with experience.

Smalling’s injury in training last week which could keep him sidelined for a couple of weeks was a bitter blow for the Portuguese tactician, who watched on in frustration on Sunday as his young centre-back pairing of Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibañez looked out of sorts and out of sync as Benevento raced into an early lead.

The fact that Fonseca preferred to play with a back-four rather than a back-three meaning another watching brief for new signing Marash Kumbulla, was testament to how highly he rates the former Manchester United and England star.

As the new President sat unmoved in the VIP area, it was somewhat ironic that it was Roma’s senior citizens that dragged the Giallorossi back into the contest.

Summer acquisition Pedro (who pulled Roma level) has looked sharp since his arrival at Trigoria and the decorated Spaniard, along with Henrik Mkhitaryan, dovetailed nicely behind striker Edin Dzeko who claimed another brace to take his total for the club to 108.

One has to applaud the Bosnian international’s attitude in recent weeks, after seeing a summer move to Juventus collapse the big striker has preferred to get on with the business in hand rather than dwell on what might have been.

The absence of Nicolo Zaniolo, who damaged his ACL for a second time representing his country, has been keenly felt in the midfield, but there are clear signs that young Spanish playmaker Carles Pérez may be able to fill the huge void left by the Italian starlet.

The 22-year-old came on late on Sunday night to score a brilliant individual goal which the Italian press are claiming was as good as anything Lionel Messi has produced in his distinguished career.

Stiffer challenges now lay ahead starting with Thursday’s trip to Bern to face Young Boys in the Europa League group stages before a trip to the Giuseppe Meazza to face table toppers Milan four days later.

The next few weeks will give a clearer indication as to whether Friedkin will stick with his current manager or opt to try to tempt someone of the pedigree of Massimiliano Allegri back to Serie A.

Just like many of his predecessors, Fonseca is discovering that working in the Italian capital can be both intoxicating and suffocating.

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