Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The off-season calls out the inner card sharks of football managers

August 7, 2013 by  
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The Pre-Flop Stage of Football

Football managers have some of the best and most cunning minds the world has ever seen. They’re like poker players on the sidelines, using different football tactics to outwit the opposing team. However, the action doesn’t stop on the pitch. As the transfer season begins, their craftiness will be put to test. Basically, using poker terms, we’re at the pre-flop stage of the competition. It’s the time of the year when football managers from all over Europe scramble and negotiate multi-million deals to acquire the best possible talents in hopes of building a formidable franchise for years to come. And one club that’s looking to break a long title drought is A.S. Roma.

Associazione Sportiva Roma’s aggressive quest for Champions League and Serie A supremacy began when they signed former Arsenal forward, Gervinho. His two-year Premier League stint saw the athletic Ivorian manning the wing with blazing pace and impeccable dribbling, yet it wasn’t enough to impress the Gunners. However, this direct style of play on the pitch attracted the Yellow Reds to acquire Gervinho’s services for a whopping €8 million. Roma manager, Rudi Garcia, has been a long time believer of the 26-year-old’s football talents – even claiming that the native of Anyama was one of Ligue 1’s brightest stars during his stint – and had a first-hand experience in the development of the player. From 2009-2011, Gervinho was under Garcia’s wing at Lille, where he saw the best years of his young football career – scoring a total of 36 goals in 93 appearances for Les Dogues. But can the Gervinho card on the flop provide a little leeway for Roma on the turn?

After the signing of Gervinho, Rudi Garcia has in his hands an oversupply of forwards and non-EU players. Brazilian midfielder, Marquinho, is already being linked to club rival, Inter; while perennial Premier League contenders Chelsea and Rio de Janeiro -based club Flamengo have both been rumoured to acquire the steady presence of Leandro Castan at the back. On the other hand, the most probable solution is for Rudi Garcia to discard forward, Junior Tallo. The over-abundance of attacking players in Roma is glaring; with World Cup veteran Francesco Totti not looking to slow down any time soon, as well as solid performances last season from Pablo Osvaldo and Marco Boriello, the odds of Junior Tallo staying in the Eternal City are looking slimmer by the minute.

Rudi Garcia has now the unenviable task of sitting in front of a poker table, with a majority of his chips already shipped in the middle. As the dealer reveals the river card – marking the start of football season – A.S. Roma, along with its chief tactician Rudi Garcia, will have in their hands the opportunity to once again prove their worth. It has been 12 long years since they lifted the coveted Serie A title; and who knows, maybe this year, all their stars will align and their cards fall into place.

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