Giallorossi | Part 9 | Final Day Drama

AS Roma came into 2026 narrowly trailing AC Milan in their bid to wrap up three Serie A titles in a row. But a string of dubious performances meant a bit of squad building was required in the January transfer window.

That began with selling Benjamin Pavard, whose dreadful error at Verona irritated me so much that I put him straight on the transfer list. He joined Porto for £29.5m, which constituted a £53m profit considering future clauses, where he was joined on deadline day by ineffective midfielder Alberto Moleiro for £26.5m.

I felt we were lacking strength so initially ripped up my youth transfer policy. We paid £15m to bring Gabriel in from Arsenal and another £15m to sign Dani Olmo, who can offer support all across the midfield, from PSG. Then we loaned Brian Brobbey from Ajax to give Tammy Abraham some support. But the youth focus returned on deadline day as we spent £41m on two Belgian 18-year-olds in wonderkid Marvin Wattiau and Adam Poitoux.

Brutal start to 2026

We began the new year with a really tricky run of games. First up on 5 January was a trip to Juventus, who obviously scored their first two shots. Why wouldn’t they? And we lost despite having 15 shots to seven and twice as much xG. A crazy game at Sassuolo saw the first three shots all result in goals with Abraham scoring both of ours, and this time we got an undeserved victory. We then had to play the Italian Super Cup and were a little unlucky to lose 2-1 to Milan – with Endrick putting in a 6.6 and getting injured, which is classic Endrick.

A few days later we hosted Inter, who were gifted a ridiculous penalty and won 3-0. A week later, we welcomed Napoli and started well as Gabriel headed home his first goal for the club but Napoli responded with a direct free-kick. Roony Bardghji got sent off after 76 minutes, I made five subs to replace exhausted players and one of them stepped up as Matteo Nardini nicked a late winner!

That sent us back into good form, including a 6-0 annihilation of Brescia, racking up an impressive 5.04 xG in a 3-1 win over Spezia and Abraham bagging a perfect hat-trick in a 5-0 hammering of Sampdoria. But a six-game unbeaten run ended at Bologna thanks to Nardini getting sent off for elbowing Gerard Deolufeu in the face after three minutes! Yet again we faced Lazio after a loss, but this time without the suspended Abraham. Andreas Schjelderup, who was playing through a broken wrist, got his started before Gabriel headed home a corner to put us 2-0 up from four shots at half-time. Immobile immediately got one back but a solid defensive effort saw us over the line.

Champions League

In amongst the nightmare league restart, we had the small task of trying to qualify out of the silly new Champions League format. Those chances were boosted with a dramatically improved performance as we thumped Wolfsburg 4-0 led by a Bardghji brace. That took us into the final group game at home to Ludogorets just two points off eighth place, along with about 12 other teams! We got the perfect start as Roger Ibanez headed home then had 30 shots in the first half, but led 1-0… until Ibanez headed home another corner to kill the game off. And I think 42 shots may be our new record high in this save! That saw us come 12th in the league phase, which I think gets us a better draw for the playoff round.

We got a much better playoff draw than last season as we faced Wolfsburg. We trailed early in the first leg in Germany but an inspired Bardghji performance saw him bag a hat-trick and create the other for Matías García, including a wondergoal for his second, fired us to a 4-1 win. I fully rotated the team and regretted it as we quickly went 2-0 down but recovered with two late goals through Isak Jóhanneson and Endrick, which was his first of the season.

Our reward was a round-of-16 tie against Arsenal, which was technically the best draw possible given they finished eighth in the league phase. This time we were at home first, started brightly and eventually took advantage as Abraham tapped home a Szoboszlai cross. We restricted Arsenal to one shot before the break but allowed them to equalise out of nothing before Nicoló Barella curled home a stunning free-kick to seal an impressive 2-1 win.

Arsenal scored a dubious penalty early in the second leg but a fiery teamtalk saw us respond with Abraham heading home a corner after 48 minutes only for a defensive blunder to gift Arsenal the lead. We held on for extra-time only to concede in the second minute and couldn’t muster a comeback despite Abraham missing a massive one-on-one chance and having more shots.

10 games from glory

Our strong form coincided with Milan suffering a slight dip, which opened up a seven-point gap at the top with 10 games remaining. However, we had a tricky run-in that included playing Juve and Inter in the final three games.

A rotated 11 hammered 10-man Benevento 7-0. The star of the show was Endrick, who got a hat-trick of assists after disappointing all season. So could this finally be the Brazilian’s breakthrough moment? That set us up for a massive trip to Milan, who predictably scored early and held on for a 1-0 win despite us having twice as many shots and all the chances. And that suddenly moved Milan just one point behind us.

We rebounded from that disappointment in style as Schjelderup scored twice in the first eight minutes at Parma, who were soon down to 10 men. Not content with that, he “panenkad” a penalty for his hat-trick and added a fourth inside 35 minutes! We settled for 4-0 as Milan scored late to defeat Inter 1-0. Schjelderup obviously then got injured in training and we struggled without him at home to Cagliari, who scored early, but we eventually turned it around thanks to a deserved late Abraham winner. Another home game followed against Verona and we started much better as a naughty Bardghji through-ball teed up the opener for Abraham and Ibanez quickly added a second and we went on to win 6-0.

That teed up an intriguing title battle with us leading Milan by four points but with a considerably tougher run-in.

Game 1 – Atalanta (3rd, away): A dreadful first half ended 0-0 but we were better after the break without creating anything substantial. I took a bold decision to make four subs, including taking Abraham off, and it worked as Bardghji sent the improving Matías García through to nick a last-minute winner. That removed any slight title chance Atalanta had but Milan beat Brescia 3-0.

Game 2 – Genoa (7th, away): We totally dominated Genoa with 12 shots to zero in the first half and made one count as Barella scored a 30-yard thunderbolt. We continued to be the only team playing only for Genoa to obviously score their first attack. But thankfully Abraham went and scored from the kick-off! And after 22 shots to five, we won 2-1 and Milan thrashed Empoli 4-1.

Game 3 – Juventus (6th, home): We came out flying against Juve, racking up 10 shots in 20 minutes and making one count as Schjelderup curled home. But out of nowhere, Vlahovic got Juve level. A stern talking to worked as Barella sent Schjelderup through to double his tally but we again gifted Juve an undeserved equaliser. And we somehow drew 2-2 despite having 27 shots to eight and 3.43 to 1.02 xG, while Milan beat Bologna 2-1 to close the gap to two points with two to play.

Game 4 – Sassuolo (8th, home): Another bright start saw Szoboszlai created the opener for Bardghji after 51 seconds then a second for Gabriel 20 minutes later. Abraham added a third before a late Sassuolo consolation. Milan also won 2-0 at Spezia to take it to the final day.

Game 5 – Inter (4th, away): The final day decider saw us missing Nicola Zalewski and former Inter man Barella through suspension. This was made even trickier by Inter needing to win to secure Champions League qualification

Bizarrely, we played the day before Milan, which kind of relieved some pressure. That showed as great play by Bardghji teed up Szoboszlai to score after half an hour. Poor defending gifted Inter a chance that Marco Carnesecchi saved, then the ref did his bit by gifting them a nonsense penalty, which Carnesecchi also saved! But he had no chance as more defensive shambles gave Inter two chances, which they scored to nick a 2-1 win.

That put the title in Milan’s hands as they travelled to 13th-place Sampdoria having won 10 of their last 11 games. And thankfully they bottled it, losing 1-0 to Sampdoria!

AS Roma won their third consecutive Serie A title!!

Our third Scudetto saw us record a title with the lowest points tally and most games lost of this save. We finished two points clear of Milan but 14 clear of third-place Atalanta, while our 31 goals conceded is only eight short of the previous two seasons combined! Abraham led the way with 35 goals, which was three more than Immobile, a 7.77 average rating and a new record 14 player of the match awards. While Szoboszlai had the most assists with 13.

2025/26 Season Review

Three titles on the bounce is pretty impressive for a Roma side I didn’t think was anywhere near the best side in Italy at the start of this Beta save. But with a striker like Tammy Abraham, anything is possible.

Abraham was probably our star man again this season, scoring 41 in 47 in all competitions. But Bardghji has been a key contributor with 14 goals and 13 assists in 43 games and Schjelderup impressed in spells with 14 goals and seven assists in 38 games. Szoboszlai got a club-high 18 assists and four goals and Barella got 11 assists and five goals. While the addition of Gabriel was a positive move as he averaged a 7.05 and scored four goals in 24 appearances alongside the reliable Ibanez. However, a big concern was the dreadful form of Endrick, who scored one and assisted three (all of which were in one match) in 33 appearances.

I thought about bringing this Beta save to a close at this point. However, one of my biggest disappointments has been the lack of performances we’ve got out of Endrick. So with that in mind, we’re going to do one more season to try and get the best out of the Brazilian. And to do that, we’re going to change formation to move him up front.

Join us next time to discover whether we can get more out of Endrick!


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