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Friday November 2 2012
You’ve got to love Zeman…

As Roma lost another five-goal thriller in midweek, Alex Mott explains why Serie A needs Coach Zdenek Zeman.

If the world of football is a deeply cynical one, then Italy is its arc-protagonist. Over the past 20 years in calcio, we've had allegations of doping, countless betting scandals and a match-fixing case so widespread it almost ended the game on the peninsula.

Off the field, fans have become enormously disillusioned, but on it, supporters across Europe still see Serie A as a boring, ultra-defensive throw-back to a time when players sported moustaches and had proper jobs. The 2003 Champions League Final between Milan and Juventus is the sort of game that people can't forget – permanently seared on their unconscious, awakening you at night to remind you that football can be awful.

A group of Coaches though are fighting back, ignoring the traditions of Catenaccio and throwing off the shackles. Walter Mazzarri's Napoli almost upset the eventual European champions last season with a free-flowing, open game.

Francesco Guidolin has proved that with an experimental scouting network and faith in his convictions, Udinese can challenge with the very best, year-in, year-out.

Lazio, a team moulded around the mercurial brilliance of Hernanes, have become genuine contenders this term, scoring three or more goals in five games.

Andrea Stramaccioni's Inter has shown the sort of tactical bravery his Primavera side showed last season with their NextGen Series win. An attacking triumvirate of Antonio Cassano, Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio have rocketed the Nerazzurri up the table. And I haven't even mentioned Wesley Sneijder.

There's one man, however, more gung-ho, more attacking, more reckless, more steadfast in his beliefs. Roma Coach Zdenek Zeman is the person doing single-handedly more to save Italian football than any other.

When the Luis Enrique Experiment went up the wall for the Giallorossi over the summer, only one man would do to fix the under-whelming mess the Stadio Olimpico side had become. The Czech tactician had just guided Pescara up from Serie B by playing some of the best football Italy's Second Division had ever seen and the American hierarchy in charge in the capital wanted a bit of that action.

He was quickly appointed, and put to work his updated version of Holland's Total Football model. Fluid, fast and ultimately fallible, this team would banish the sterile domination their Spanish Coach had previously instilled and return to the game that fans wanted to see.

“This sport is hugely popular not because of big business,” he once told reporters. “But because in every corner of the world there is a child having fun with a football.”

Fun on the ball is what Zeman's Roma are all about – piling men forward and not caring about the consequences. The club's last three games have seen 16 goals. Two of them were losses, but really, who cares?

No one has scored more than Roma this season – 22, the same as Juventus – and no one has conceded more than Roma this season. For a neutral, that's about the greatest stat you'll see, but for fans of the team, it doesn't make for pretty reading.

And the Prague-born boss has now received the dreaded 'vote of confidence' from sporting director Walter Sabatini. “We know what we have to do and we’ll support the Coach. We’ll look to understand the motives for these black-outs which are affecting us, but I ask the fans to have faith.”

Whatever becomes of Zeman, no one can deny his brilliant stubbornness to bring joy to the tifosi. As he once said: “Whenever we attack, all three forwards have to be in the penalty area while two of the three midfielders come forward as well.

“That way the opponent is pinned back. Then you put the ball in the box, and because you have more men, you have more chances of scoring. It’s not rocket science. It’s simple maths.”

It might fail. In fact, it probably will. But while it lasts, Zdenek Zeman's Roma side need to cherished for what they are – the brilliant losers bringing the fun back to calcio.

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Have your say...
i just love to hear all the haters talking. Zeman's plans and style will take time in a team where there are many new players and a bunch who have had no division 1 or Italian experience. once the pieces all fall into place, everyone who has commented negatively here will moan and make excuses, but Roma will be clearly the best team in Seria A ... not like all the 'great' Italian teams from last year showed us how much better they were in this past season's UEFA competition.
on the 4th November, 2012 at 11:15pm
I do love Zeman. I started follow Roma during his first stint at the club back then. Never have I seen such exciting football. You only see a glimpse of brilliance of what's ahead. Watch this space! Third place (or second if Inter screws up) is still obtainable.
on the 4th November, 2012 at 10:53pm
I'm a romanista and don't care what others think. I want Zeman to stay and insiste. All we need is confidence, because the talent and the potential is there.
on the 4th November, 2012 at 7:02am
Its pretty funny how fans are critical of a coach if he doesn't win. He is delusional, he is clueless... I realize that for most of the bloggers, because they coached little kids, obviously, they can coach Roma. I recommend watching the 30 for 30 called the Guru of Go. The coach ran a run and gun style offense, like what Zeman coaches, only in Basketball. He had the players and it worked beautifully. When Zeman has his players, watch out (Just look at Pescara)
on the 4th November, 2012 at 12:46am
As a roma fan i hope zeman stays we play good football all we need is confidence in defence. The football is fast and exciting and the biggest thing of all is totti is playing like he is a young again. you cant expect zeman to work miracles when he has only just joined it is going to take time to get the team to work. Patience is a virtue.
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 9:20pm
are you serious? roma are still a boring team, stop making this guy out to be the god of excitement, he is rubbish. I hope roma go for me as their next coach. I could easily do his job, eveyrone run into the opposition box, see if you score, if not we lose and we all go home. Easy tactic.
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 6:02pm
Just read latest article on Zeman. He is so deluded its unbelivable. He keeps mentioning Barcelona, WE ARE NOT BARCELONA.Every fan wants to see there team play good attacking football providing this a brand of football that wins games and trophies. Would you rather see your team lose 3-2 playing attacking football or win 1-0 with a more defensive approach. The later obviously, as fans we want our team to win. Winning is what matters. Zeman wont change and as long as he is in charge we ve had it.
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 2:17pm
Zeman, "why do I need to change?", to win a football match perhaps?! To not put too much pressure on your forwards, to score 4 goals every week, because you concede 2/3 on a weekly basis.
Also,"Barcelona do not change". Maybe the fact that they win everyweek, and have acquired countless trophies in the past 5 years, has something to do with their mentality.
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 1:41pm
In Zeman's defence, this is almost a completely new team, especially the back 4. Plus the two cb's are both young and new to European football. There has to be some patience.
This may sound nuts, but I feel that a 343 may well work well for Roma. I'd shift De Rossi into the back 3 & make him a sweeper, (like Sammer). This would add experience/leadership to the defence. Roma's full-backs are really wing-backs. In the middle I'd go for the solid Bradley alongside Tags.
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 11:26am
Zeman creates a feeling of ambivalence within me. On the one hand, I love his cavalier style, his willingness to give youth an opportunity, & his ethos on placing form over reputation. On the other, I find the lack of balance in this Roma team alarming-do Roma actually practice on defending?! The respected pundit/former coach, Stuart Robson, often says that Wenger does no defensive coaching, & all that Arsenal do in training is 5-a-sides. Is Zeman doing the same?
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 11:09am
Lol , I see Juve fans growing like shrooms again , get back to serie B and dont waste your time commenting none sense

about Zeman , you are forgetting the fact that marquinhos-Castan-dodo-piris didnt have any european experience before joining Roma , and florenzi /tacht were just reserve/serie players , it takes time for any manager to gain a solid team with all these new players
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 8:06am
Wow, talk about writing for drama. Was there a competition this week to see who could put the most cliche's in one article Alex?
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 6:47am
Roma have payed 10 games, ok 9 games so far for Zeman thats 810 minutes of football. If you watched Roma played less then 300 minutes of Zeman football its that simple. Also Roma have a backline that while exposed most of the has an average age of less then 22, age here is not a excuse rather something I feel should have been pointed out in the article. And sice Conte was called an architect. An architect of what, A casino so he can realy cash in on the betting scandles
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 4:01am
I've enjoyed watching us play so far this season, albeit in half hour patches. At 2-0 up against Udinese, we were flying and I remember thinking that I hadnt seen us attack this well since the days of Spalletti.

I do believe that a couple of world class defenders and we have beaten Udinese and even Parma.

The fact remains that if this team under Zeman doenst find some consistency then his days are numbered.

We should have probably gone with Montella in the first place.
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 3:28am
you just hate Zeman because what he said is true.. yeah you ignore the truth!
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 1:36am
no.. you said, "but for fans of the team, it doesn't make for pretty reading." but I think, no..
to be honest, i was born as a giallorossa.. and for me, Zeman has something to us if we just keep in faith him.. OK i know it's not as good as we're all expected before.. but, yeah.. maybe Im the only fans who still support him and want him to stay maybe for just one season to show us the real he is..
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 1:22am
Roma have only scored 19 goals, not 22. You cannot credit Zeman with 3 goals for not even turning up at the stadium. And are you serious with "two of them were losses, but who really cares?"? Roma fans care. It's never been about goals scored. It's about results and position in the table. WIthout results, you go to Serie B, where Zeman has done his best work. Big clubs cannot survive multiple campaigns in the lower divisions. Bankruptcy soon follows, and a bankrupt Roma would be terrible.
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 12:44am
Counter attacks. That's all we Roma fans need to say
on the 3rd November, 2012 at 12:03am
Well, considering that the true changing of the nature of Italian football is being made in Turin with Conte being the architect its funny how Juve was never mentioned in the article.
Zeman is just a clown, fun to watch but cannot be taken seriously. What Juve is playing - relying heavy on possession, pressure and creating opportunities- is what they should all learn from.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 11:58pm
Also please stop saying Roma scored 22 goals this season, three of those are nonexistent... Roma have actually scored 19 goals thus far!
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 10:45pm
Sorry to disappoint you Sam De Martino but not even the great Barcelona play this type of football. As far as this blog is concerned i have to say it celebrates all the wrong things about this sport. Winning is what counts and winning in style is what makes neutrals as well as die hard fans enjoy & love this sport. Zeman throws everyone forward and hopes for the best it has very little to do with the dutch total football that Ajax made famous. It simply does not work & Roma doesn't deserve this.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 10:41pm
It's riiculous that the fans expect Roma to be third place simply outrageous. You have got a new team and coach, a lot of the players are still young but has wonderful talents and a real good coach -at least be realistic, look at the long term picture here...juve even had to suffer consecutive 7 place finish to finally get where they are! And here ppl are complaining about six points and a third place finish for a new team and we are not even half way into the season! What short sighted ness!
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 10:37pm
Brilliant coach and a man to be respected for his beliefs and philosophy. Roma must not sack him , he must be given time to show what the team can do. He is showing ow his team can be brillant though they must built solidity. I think a lot of neutrals are won over by Roma's attacking football, they are just fun to watch and of course the unexpected can be crazy but the belief is the belief and this man is showing that he means what he says. Good for football!
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 10:29pm
No one has scored more than Roma?

Juventus have.

Without awarded virtual goals either.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 10:21pm
Zema n & athletic's Bielsa are fantastic for football. Football is entertainment.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 10:20pm
Zeman will correct Roma's tactical errors by playing a two-man defense... mark my words.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 9:59pm
The champions league final of 2003 was everything but Awful. It was a tactical masterpiece drawn by 2 of the greatest tacticians our game has ever seen in Lippi and Carletto. Football is not just won by scoring goals, but by stopping them at the same time as well. The defenders and defensive midfielders who played that evening have come to be looked at as nothing but the embodiment of class. Gattuso, Davids, Maldini, thuram, ferrara, montero, nesta etc. Nobody remembers these greats as boring
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 8:42pm
if he had some decent defenders it might work out a little better. but as a roma fan, i know that it has been like this for years... i get worried when they go 2 up... not normal at all.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 7:59pm
"more attacking, more reckless, more steadfast.."

>> more stupid !

"Zeman is the person doing single-handedly more to save Italian football than any other."

>> OH MY GOD!?!? NO COMMENT !

Hey Mott,

in the last couple of your articles, I thought you were insane or something !. But now, you're officially insanely pathetic.

Those two statements I quoted above prove that you have gone mental.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 7:11pm
Zeman is doing a lot to destroy the reputation of Italian football by sweeping allegations about doping and match fixing, none of which has been proven (including Calciopoli). He says what the haters, the media and the Roma supporters want to hear. Unfortunately people tend to think it's the truth, and not the ramblings of a bitter old man that it really is.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 6:37pm

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