The month of October has been up and down for Roma they have had real highs and real lows But ultimately a change in momentum put Roma on the doorstep of the title race near the end of the month. At the very end of September Roma lost Lorenzo Pellegrini and Hendrick Mkhitaryan to injury as more bodies joined the training table. Things got bad to worse on the injury front as we have seen an incredible amount of injuries take place within this team. Roma kicked off the month in a Europa League clash against Austrian side Wolfsberger. Leonardo Spinazzola scored Roma’s only goal in what was a very disappointing 1-1 draw in Austria. It was a match in which Roma lacked creativity, especially through the Midfield the absence of Lorenzo Pellegrini was highlighted in a very underwhelming performance. Things would not get much better the following week against Cagliari. A very ugly back and forth game but before the game could truly start Diawara tore his meniscus in the first half of that game as he had to be taken off by a stretcher and would miss significant time. It was a 1-1 game heading into the closing moments before Nikola kalinic scored his first Roma goal in stoppage time however despite that the goal was wiped off in what was an absurd VAR decision that denied Roma of three points that they deserved. Things got even worse from there especially due to the circumstances. Roma failed to beat bottom-of-the-table Sampdoria as Roma lost two more players to injury as Bryan Cristante and Nikola kalinic joined Lorenzo Pellegrini on the training table. Roma was out of defensive midfielders and was on the verge of losing a grip on the season an absurd amount of injuries they were struggling to adapt to it. More controversy hit during the next Europa League matchup as they hosted Bundesliga leaders Borussia Monchengladbach at the Stadio Olimpico. Once again Roma did not perform at a very high level but Leaps and Bounds in progress occurred with the defense as Paulo Fonseca moved Gianluca Mancini into the defensive Midfield. It was a masterclass defensive performance as they were on the verge of a victory. Nicolo Zaniolo gave Rome the lead in that game before a victory that was deserved eventually was robbed from them. In the closing moments of that game, Roma was called for a ghost penalty a handball was called on Chris Smalling even though it hit him in the face in what was one of the most atrocious refereeing decisions in the history of football. The Germans converted the penalty and Roma was robbed of three valuable points that could have all but secured their qualification for The Knockout stage. Roma was fired up and played with rage over the next couple games we saw a different Roma team and all the issues that they had previously evaporated. Roma hosted AC Milan at the Stadio Olimpico as two of the most inconsistent teams in Italy battled in a match that felt like a must-win. Edin Dzeko gave Rome a 1-0 lead after the first half following an AC Milan equalizer within minutes Nicolo Zaniolo struck the back of the net in what was an incredibly important 2-1 victory for Roma. They get a massive three points and the first win in several games. Just a few days later they went on the road to face Udinesse. they continue to ride that momentum Nicolo Zaniolo scored for his third straight game giving Roma the lead Roma would be reduced to 10 men after a red card to Federico Fazio despite that Chris Smalling scored his first goal for Roma before Justin kluivert and Alex Kolarov added to the goal scoring fun. Roma went on to win 4-0 putting themselves into the top four for the first time this season. Roma ended their month in great shape as the team has had momentum and confidence that they had not had previously. Despite the injury issues, Roma finds a way into the title race and even beat Napoli 2-1 in the first game of November. This team has come together in ways no one expected them to Roma find themselves in the top three now it’s time to recognize the player of the month. I also want to mention the Roma women are in third place in their league and have won four straight games with just a few points off the top of the table over this last month both Roma teams have delivered.
Nominee: Chris Smalling
The third nominee for the player of the month in October goes to Chris Smalling. When Chris arrived in Roma many people did not know what to expect from him. He had been at Manchester United for almost a decade and quite honestly was losing his place because of the signing of Harry Maguire. His arrival gave Roma depth in their most vulnerable position. It was a dry loan of a one-year deal since then Roma is doing everything they can to make this permanent after he has massively overachieved the little expectations that he had when he arrived in the capital. He was featured in practically every game in the month and had been one of the best performers in each of the matches. He has proven to be incredibly influential in Roma getting their season back on the right track. Quite honestly all of the nominees this month have done more than enough to earn the award. Chris Smalling has been a revelation for Roma. Roma’s biggest issue has been their defense it has been an issue for them since Alisson left. Previously as this has been an issue as they proved to be incredibly weak in that area. Despite all that, all of a sudden Chris Smalling and the backline not only is their defense, not their weakness it has become one of their biggest strengths this season. Chris Smalling has a passing accuracy of nearly 90% has won practically every Ariel ball that he has faced this season & not one player has dribbled past him this season. That goes along with a goal he scored last Wednesday and the insane goal-line clearance against Napoli that was nothing short of world-class. Believe it or not, Chris Smalling has had a better season than Virgil Van Dijk he has been one of the best defenders in all of Europe this season and has been a large contributor and why Roma has fixed their issues and got themselves back on the right track. He is practically irreplaceable in the starting lineup and Roma is going to do everything they can to keep him in the capital a little longer. He deserves all the praise and acclaim that he is getting he was not the only contributing factor but the impact he has on the defense changed Roma’s season. Even though he did not win player of the month this month he may win it at some point this season that is the type of impact he has had on the Roman defense. Roma’s defense was a weakness and now its strength and that all happened after Chris Smalling entered the starting lineup.
Runners up: Nicolo Zaniolo
Nicolo Zaniolo is playing at such a level this season and he only took it up a notch in October. He has scored in 4 consecutive games and quite honestly he probably has been the best player on Roma over this last month. So the logical thing would be to give him the award he will fall just short in what was a very difficult decision. However, nothing can be taken away from what he has done in Roma’s attacking Midfield this month. He has been one of the best players in the entire league over this stretch he is just a different kind of special the fact that he’s even here and Roma got him for such a small price is just completely insane. He has emulated the iconic Francesco Totti he is the future of this club and has been abundantly clear in the way he plays. He is falling in love with this club you can see it with his eyes hopefully he’ll never leave it. Nicolo zaniolo world-class performance started from the very beginning of the month and has dragged throughout the entire month into early November that’s how good he is been he is not just a superstar in the making he is a superstar and a world-class player I know that he’s only 20 years old and that’s a lot of pressure but he has delivered in every big game this season and has shown all the qualities that he possesses. Outside of the big two, he is the best young player in the world. He is better than the kid scoring goals in Austria and he is better than Christian pulisic he is a different kind of special. A fantastic header against Borussia Monchengladbach started this terrific run. In the following game against AC Milan, he scored a decisive goal that earned Roma 3 points. He’s played AC Milan on two different occasions he has scored in both matches. Against Udinesse the kid scored again. Then at the beginning of November, he scored an absolute scorcher against Napoli. He has been as consistent as anyone. Nicolo Zaniolo could score up to 20 goals this season if he keeps this up. He has been a huge difference-maker as he has for the most part been the provider for Roma offensively through the injuries. He can play in the central position but when he is on the wing he is so much more dangerous and effective and he has proven that throughout this last month. In all honesty, it is a bit harsh not to name him the player of the month because of how good he has been last season he scored 6 goals in all competitions this year he is already six goals in all competition that shows the unbelievable progress that he is made under Paulo Fonseca. He is the star of this team and he has proved it every single game he has an uncanny ability to deliver when his team and needs him the most. Edin Dzeko for the longest time was the lone player that we relied on for goals Nicolo zaniolo has proven he is someone we can count on in every match the impact on the game he has is immense. A superstar is Rising in Rome he’s going to get a lot better before the season ends this is just the beginning of the ride.
Winner: Gianluca Mancini
It is hard to imagine that there is a player who has played better over this last month than Nicolo Zaniolo. Given how impressive he has been in the way he has delivered throughout October the kid is playing at an unbelievable level however the impact of Gianluca Mancini can not be questioned. The Roma Center back is the player of the month in October. Let me explain why wild Nicolo Zaniolo without question has been the best player for Roma this month he has not been the most impactful. Roma has dealt with so many injuries this month. Bryan Cristante and Diawara both picked up injuries meaning Roma was only lacked with one defensive midfielder. The entire complexity of the Season changed because of the impact of Gianluca Mancini. Paulo Fonseca was in a real tough spot with the injuries and the type of injuries that this Roma team has dealt with. Gianluca Mancini is a center back by definition that is why Roma brought him here however he was forced to play out of position. Paulo Fonseca inserted him in the defensive Midfield something he is not accustomed to doing. He played alongside Jordan veretout and despite the fact he had no experience doing it he played at an unbelievable level. He has shown it to be versatile and now Paulo Fonseca has an option in that position even when Roma gets healthier. Roma’s defense drastically changed when he was inserted as a Defensive Midfielder. Roma’s defense has made Leaps and Bounds and progress as one of their greatest weaknesses became one of their biggest strengths a large part of that was the activity from Mancini in the defensive Midfield giving that security blanket to the backline. He has played at such an incredible level this season it’s hard to even comprehend he was asked to do things he is not accustomed to doing he was thrown in as a defensive midfielder and has exceeded any expectations that you would have thought. He had great awareness and moving with the game and was one of the best players. This month quite simply put he was breathtaking. I would go even further the impact he has had on the defensive Midfield has changed Roma’s outcome of the season. Roma went from a team that is defending poorly and lacking the consistency to a team in terrific form and defending at the highest level we have seen in 2 years. Gianluca Mancini deserves a lot of credit for the way he has adapted to the situation and how he is impacted the team. Roma are in the top three now Gianluca Mancini doesn’t get all the credit but he is the most influential player during that stretch his activity in the defensive Midfield almost single-handedly gave Roma all the momentum they were missing. Gianluca Mancini is Roma’s player-of-the-month in October he certainly has been one of the best at his position this season.