VERONA - It's fair to say that Roma's start to the season has been somewhat of a disaster. Their on-field performance was far from convincing as they could only manage a 0-0 draw with Hellas Verona.
Then they were told they'd have to take a three-goal defeat for fielding an ineligible player and now they've had two members of their non-playing staff handed bans for breaches of the Covid-19 protocol.
A 2-2 draw against champions Juventus might have put back some faith into the giallorossi fans, but will the Romans be able to scrap a top 4 finish this season?
Game week one doesn't go to plan
Paulo Fonseca's men made the long trip North to the Marcantonio Bentegodi stadium to face last season's surprise package Hellas Verona. Roma were odds on to get their season started with a victory.
Roma bossed possession with 61% of the ball and rained 21 shots in on goal - compared to Verona's eight - but they couldn't find a way through the hosts rear-guard. A draw was far from the result Fonseca wanted to start the campaign, but it was by no means a disaster. Then came the sucker punch.
In the build up to kick off Amadou Diawara, who played 89 minutes of the match, was listed as an under 22 players despite having turned 23-years-old in July. It had no impact on the result but clerical errors such as this have been looked on harshly in the past and Roma were not about to escape punishment free.
Judge Gerardo Mastrandrea confirmed his stance. Verona have been awarded a 3-0-win meaning Roma sit on zero points. The club have confirmed that they'll be appealing the decision, but any reversal looks hugely unlikely given the listing of Diawara is literally an error that is shown in black and white. The fact it wasn’t a deliberate breach of rules means very little.
With a point scrubbed out for what was plain human error, the club could have done with some positive news. Instead, they've had salt rubbed into their wounds. Rewind back to early July.
Serie A was back underway after the enforced mid-season Covid-19 break and, despite The Blues coming out on top, Aurelio De Laurentiis - Napoli's president - was unhappy with the manner in which Roma's staff and subs conducted themselves during the match, which was played at Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo. His complaints centred around Roma’s failure to socially distance on the side lines and in the stands.
The accusation wasn't taken lightly and the FIGC court have found two members of the Roma hierarchy guilty of breaking the coronavirus guidelines.
The duo in question are club CEO Guido Fienga and medical expert Massimo Manara. As a result, Roma have been slapped with a £7,000 fine and Fienga and Manara have been hit with suspensions of 30 and 20 days respectively. On the surface, the punishments don't look too severe but they could cause a lot more harm that first meets the eye.
What could the punishments mean for Roma?
The decision to award Hellas Verona throws up one very obvious repercussion. On one hand, it might mean nothing. On the other, that point could be the difference between Fonseca achieving his targets and not.
Where the intrigue really lays though is in Fienga's suspension. The fact that the club president isn't allowed pitch side or in the dressing room for a month is neither here nor there but the ban also means he's unable to partake in any transfer dealings.
That's an area where Fienga is usually heavily involved. Fonseca is still desperate to add to his squad with Chris Smalling, Borja Mayoral and Arkadiusz Milik all reported targets. If they fail to get their desired deals over the line then they could be paying the price of that 30 day suspension all season long.
A lifeline against Pirlo’s Juve
Even though the situation looks quite awful for Roma, this weekend brought some hope as Fonseca’s men had a positive exhibition against Pirlo’s Juventus. The champions were left behind twice, as Veretout scored both goals at the Olimpico for Roma.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo twice took away Roma’s advantage and the points were shared. Does this mean that AS Roma can dream with a positive season?
Well, if they put the same effort as they did against Juventus they might. Nonetheless, they might need to attack the last week of transfers with some proper signings. The loan of Cengiz Under to Leicester left a gap on the wings and it would be interesting to see if there will be someone coming to take that place.