“Take 5” with: Stuart Harper (StuartHarper.net)

Lupo Blank

Another edition of Take 5, this time with Stuart Harper (@StuartJHarper) of StuartHarper.net :

Grade Roma’s mercato:
The club had a free-pass for selling Marquinhos – the level of profit was far too good to ignore. Thereafter though, I feel the club acted prematurely in offloading Osvaldo and Lamela. With many of Serie A’s main protagonists in a state of flux (both Milanese teams are struggling, Fiorentina lost Jovetic and Napoli lost Mazzarri and Cavani), this was a golden chance to capitalise on other team’s issues and make hay. I would have hoped that fans could have tolerated Osvaldo for just one more season and that we could have survived without the Lamela money in a concerted effort to cement a Champions League place. As it happens, I feel Pallotta/Sabatini missed a trick but went some way to redemption with Strootman’s signing and possibly that of Ljajić.

First impressions of Rudi Garcia?
So far, so good. Noises coming out of the camp from players and staff have all been positive, as have the results. That said, neither Livorno and Hellas represented anything approaching a stern test and we’ll only get a measure of the man once he faces a bigger side and dare I say it, when Roma eventually loses a game. His pedigree is respectable but we all know Rome is a unique environment in which to manage, especially when things go a little awry. For now though, we can only judge Garcia on past credentials and the job he’s done at Roma thus far, and if this was ancient Rome he’d be getting a thumbs up, living to fight another day.

Player who was purchased this mercato who will have the greatest impact?
Strootman – Defensively we were poor last season and in attack we’ve since offloaded last season’s highest goal-scorers, consequently, the acquisition of a tough-tackling, ball-playing midfielder who can aid both defense and attack is a dream. And in Strootman we have a player of real quality who will be central to Roma’s fortunes this season. He’ll help liberate De Rossi too.

Roma’s most important player?
De Rossi – This is a monumentally big year for De Rossi. For me, he is Roma’s real captain all but the armband and given his age and that a World Cup year beckons, this is a pivotal time for Daniele. Look for him to lead by example and replicate his national team performances in Giallorosso – and if he does, the sight of a Roman committed to Roma’s cause may placate some of those tifosi still objecting to Roma’s non-Italian ownership.

Where do you predict Roma will finish in the table?
My heart says second but my head says fifth. I’d like to think that we could mount a challenge to second place (it’s Juve’s scudetto – no question) but with so much change (again) I think we’ll have to endure enough inconsistency to rob Roma of the points needed to get the job done. Ultimately, Juve, Napoli, Viola and maybe AC Milan will have enough to squeeze us out, but of the latter, there shouldn’t be much seperating us and the Rossoneri.