Luciano Spalletti has replaced Rudi Garcia as Roma coach, returning to a club he led from 2005 to 20009; UEFA.com's Paolo Menicucci wonders if that is a good omen.
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Luciano Spalletti has been confirmed as Rudi Garcia's replacement as Roma coach after the Frenchman paid the price for the Giallorossi's recent slide.
"I'm excited because I'm fully aware how much this town, this club, this team are worth," said the new coach. "Working with top people is always exciting. In football, unexpected things happen, but honestly, I always hoped I would return to Rome one day because this is a wonderful place.
"My family never really left Rome," he added. "We were away for a year but then my son came back here to study – he is a huge Roma fan and has always followed the team. My first time here was very intense – it was an important period of my life. I will never forget those Champions League nights with the stadium packed full."
Spalletti, without a club since being sacked by Zenit in March 2014, returns to Roma having lifted the Coppa Italia twice during his first managerial stint at the Olimpico between 2005 and 2009. The 56-year-old also won the league twice in Russia. Paolo Menicucci assesses his priorities as he begins his new job.
In Garcia's debut campaign, Roma conceded only 25 goals in 38 Serie A games, keeping 21 clean sheets. This term, the Giallorossi have already let in 22 in 19 matches with just four clean sheets, and squeaked through their European group despite shipping 16 goals.
Sorting out Roma's defence may be the main challenge for Spalletti. Key questions persist: Who partners Kostas Manolas at centre-back? Will midfielder Alessandro Florenzi continue to play at right-back? The transfer window could provide the answer.
Using a 4-2-3-1 system, with Francesco Totti as a false nine, Spalletti steered Roma to those two Coppa Italias and oversaw a record-breaking 11-game Serie A winning streak in 2005/06 (Garcia achieved ten in a row two seasons ago).
Can the current squad play that way? Edin Džeko is certainly no false nine while wide men Mohamed Salah and Gervinho seem better suited to Garcia's 4-3-3. Although Spalletti knows Roma well, he may struggle to remould this group in his own image.
In 2007/08, Spalletti guided Roma to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, eliminating Madrid in the round of 16 with two 2-1 victories. He will face the same opponents in his first European match back as Roma coach. Will history repeat itself?