x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Culture shocks for Luis Enrique's Roma revolution

Luis Enrique's first season in Rome has been full of incident, the latest being a fight between strike partners.

Luis Enrique is trying to stamp a new philosophy on Roma. So far, results have been mixed. Dino Panato / Getty Images
Luis Enrique is trying to stamp a new philosophy on Roma. So far, results have been mixed. Dino Panato / Getty Images

The so-called "cultural revolution" at Roma, the manifesto for a fresh playing style, for an injection of youth and verve at a club under new ownership, was always likely to have brutal moments.

The immediate aftermath of last Friday's 2-0 defeat at Udinese supplied one.

Roma felt frustrated by the loss. For 79 minutes, they had held Udinese. In the mind of Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, the Roma forward, a significant chance to strike back had fizzled when Erik Lamela, his young partner up front, chose to shoot rather than pass.

According to some accounts, Osvaldo turned to Lamela after the teams had left the field and said something like: "So now you've played three matches in Serie A you think you're the big deal?"

Osvaldo did not stop at that. He struck the 19 year old - one version had him using a plastic bottle as a weapon - before other Roma players intervened to separate the pair.

Lamela has actually played a little more than three matches, and showed plenty of evidence why Luis Enrique, the head coach, is excited by the Argentinian teenager.

But he is a newcomer to Serie A, as are many of Roma's players.

Youngsters such as Miralem Pjanic and Bojan Krkic have built up plenty of top-level experience elsewhere but are still coming to terms with Italian football.

Even a veteran voyager such as Gabriel Heinze, another of the summer recruits, is a novice in Serie A.

So is Luis Enrique, chosen to oversee this high turnover of personnel on the basis of having coached only in the Spanish second division.

In response to the Osvaldo-Lamela bust-up, Luis Enrique took on the role of the tough commissar of the cultural revolution.

He chose to make public the fact there had been a scuffle and announced at a press conference that Osvaldo had committed a "serious and intolerable act deserving a maximum fine".

The Argentina-born Italy international will be up to €50,000 (Dh247,500) poorer as a result and will not be picked for the weekend's match against Fiorentina.

Against a background of disagreements over strategy between the coach and Franco Baldini, the newly arrived general manager, and the beginning-of-season clashes between Luis Enrique and Francesco Totti, the captain, the latest incident inevitably led to the odd "Chaos at Roma" headline.

Osvaldo, Roma's leading scorer, has been the most successful of the newer recruits and Luis Enrique will want him to return from the club's one-match ban eager and ready, as well as chastened, to take on Juventus and Napoli, two forthcoming fixtures which could leave the cultural revolution's high command looking very brittle.

sports@thenational.ae