Milan - Club icon Francesco Totti looked on forlornly and
captain Daniele De Rossi unleashed a cry of frustration as Roma's title hopes,
and the future of coach Rudi Garcia, fell under intense scrutiny on Sunday.
Roma welcomed Atalanta hoping to atone for the humiliation
of a 6-1 away defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League that has left their
last 16 hopes hanging by a thread.
But a stunning opener from Alejandro Gomez in the 40th
minute and a late penalty from German Denis handed the Giallorossi a chastening
2-0 defeat that has plunged the club further into crisis in a crucial run-up to
the festive break.
Roma remain fourth in Serie A, only three points adrift of
Inter Milan, who could open up a six-point gap if they win away to Napoli on
But the malaise surrounding Garcia appears to run deeper
than their otherwise healthy league position.
Garcia has led Roma to the runners-up spot behind Juventus
for the past two seasons but the Frenchman who steered Lille to a league and
Cup double in France in 2011 looks increasingly to be on borrowed time.
Also read: Garcia tries to breath new life into waning Roma
Barely a year after suffering the ignominy of a 7-1 defeat
at home to Bayern Munich, Garcia's top level coaching credentials were sorely
exposed when Roma were completely outclassed at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Such was the feeling of helplessness after the game that
some of Roma's players later lamented their complete lack of strategy against
the current European champions.
"We did nothing but defend for 90 minutes against a
side that had the complete run of the game," said Brazilian defender
- Disappointed -
It is little surprise that defeat to Atalanta, a mid-table
team from Bergamo who, like Roma, had several players sidelined through injury,
has sparked a flurry of speculation about Garcia's future.
But Roma are currently standing by their man, as the club's
sporting director Walter Sabatini indicated after Sunday's reverse: "He
has our support. It's not just Garcia who is sitting in the accused box, but
it's clear that everyone is responsible for this dramatic moment we find
Amid press reports that Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco,
Italy handler Antonio Conte and former Napoli and Inter handler Walter Mazzarri
are waiting in the wings, Garcia said he wouldn't throw in the towel.
"I won't resign. Whoever believes I could do that
doesn't know me. I'm disappointed and angry, but I'm not giving in," said
Garcia, whose contract with Roma expires in 2018.
"Obviously, I have my part of the responsibility in all
this but now is not the time for talking. We have to knuckle down and stay
Asked if he felt his position was at risk, Garcia replied:
"That is something you have to ask the club."
De Rossi, who had returned to the fray after sitting out
Tuesday's game in Barcelona, was left on his knees clutching his head in
frustration after Sunday's reverse.
As the spotlight shone on Garcia, the Italy international
midfielder admitted: "We certainly have to improve things and the coach is
partly to blame."
Roma's title hopes last season evaporated during a lengthy
run of draws that allowed Juventus to pull clear of the pack.
But De Rossi added: "It would be a disgrace if we were
to blame the coach for everything. We are the players, and we're mature enough
to accept our responsibility.
"We've had a bruising, horrible week but there's still
24 games left in the season. Three weeks ago we were considered scudetto
challengers. And I believe that is still the case."For
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