This was a tough, tough season for Roma fans. Whether it was due to Rudi Garcia's wild Scudetto proclamations (which really weren't that far off base) setting unreasonable expectations, the disappointment of losing Mehdi Benatia on the transfer market and fan favorites Kevin Strootman and Leandro Castan to season-ending injuries, or just the unbelievably stilted play during the winter, the tone around here became quite negative, and I take full blame for that. Having to sandwich articles in between my real world responsibilities, ones which attempted to shed any new light on Roma's rather old story (inflexible tactics, predictable results), really grated on me, resulting in the unrelenting pessimism.
Today I am here to accentuate the positive, to tell you why the future in the Eternal City is actually looking up, on the pitch and off. Believe me, despite the one step forward, two step backwards pursuit of Edin Dzeko and Roma entertaining the notion of selling Alessio Romagnoli, there is much to rejoice about around Trigora.
So, in no particular order, here are some facts and features to brighten your day.
Francesco Totti: Listen, I won't recount everything we've ever written about him here. Shit, the website is named after him, you know his story. But, in what might be his last season, let's take a minute to truly...and I mean truly...appreciate what this man has done over the past 23 years and what he's meant to the club and to the city. Quite frankly, had he left for greener pastures 15 years ago, this American takeover, this hand wringing over their every move, this overvaluing of Roman players, and hell, even this website wouldn't exist. Roma, at least as an entity worth discussing, worth fretting over, and worth saving, would not have survived without him.
So, this season, don't simply marvel about what he's done and continues to do on the pitch, appreciate that all that we hold dear wouldn't even be possible without his selflessness and dedication to Roma. But, seriously, how is he still this fucking good!?
Salih Uçan and Leandro Paredes: I'm not joking. Would you ever have imagined that Roma would be in a position to blow over €20m on two players who, though undeniably talented, may never play a single meaningful season for Roma? It's a testament to how dedicated the club is to unearthing young talent all over the globe. Some work, some don't, but having the cajones to throw down this kind of dough on unproven kids is a sign of progress.
Stadio della Roma: And I'm not even referring to the monumental achievement of actually getting this thing in the works, and I have no idea when it will open, but it looks gorgeous in mockups and don't you just get the feeling it's going to play remarkably well on TV? If all goes according to plan, the SDR will be a family friendly yet raucous stadium that will eventually be a cash cow for Uncle Jimmy and friends.
Nike: I'm not quite as slavishly devoted to The Swoosh as I was as an adolescent (aside from basketball shoes and baseball cleats, my feet will always be laden with Onitsuka Tigers, low top Chucks and New Balance running shoes), but you can't deny the positive impact Nike has had on Roma's image. Where were all the elaborate kit unveilings during the Kappa Days? The behind the scene videos? The international marketing? If Roma can hold up their end of the bargain and actually start winning, Roma's shirts will be among the most sought after in the game.
Alessandro Florenzi: He'll never be Totti's equal on the pitch, nor will he ever match Daniele De Rossi's intensity, but can you think of a better man to carry the standard over the next ten to twelve years? Florenzi is, in every way, shape and form, the perfect man to embody the spirit of this club going forward. Ale's passion for the game and for the club, his hard work and his humility, makes him the perfect man to carry on the legacy forged by Agostino Di Bartolomei, De Rossi and Totti, among others. If this club can start making some real noise domestically and abroad, Florenzi should start to receive some much deserved international acclaim as well.
James Pallotta: I'm sure this one will cause some controversy, but stop for a second and think about the things we've argued about over the past few years. Part of what makes this regime so divisive is the fact that they've brought Roma so, so close to the mountain top. There have been some missteps and some controversial moves along the way, but show me a fanbase in any sport that agrees with every step their administration takes. The bottom line is this: we've been at each other's throats arguing about Roma needs to do to win the Scudetto and to advance in the Champions League, not how to simply get above fifth. You have to remember that this is a long term plan; they weren't supposed to be this close this soon, particularly not after the Enrique and Zeman debacles.
International Tours: Sure, Roma jetting off to Boston or Jakarta or Melbourne matters little to anyone outside of those estimable cities, but it's all part of the master plan: grow the global brand, increase the revenues, and improve the product on the pitch....we hope. There is every reason to be skeptical about this, but the men running this club aren't blind; they can't reasonably expect this cycle of revenue to continue if the product on the pitch isn't successful and appealing; globetrotting is merely a piece of a much larger puzzle. It's just a shame the last few years of production from Totti and DDR are caught in its wake.
You, Me and Us: I don't mention this as any sort of #humblebrag, but take a look around our network, there aren't many soccer sites as active as ours. I'm just so thankful to have a place to rejoice, complain and speculate about Roma—remember, I was a reader long before I took over the reins here, and I was so incredibly thankful to find a community that shared my delusions. I think the fact that there are so many ways to access Roma related news and opinions in a variety of languages is testament to how big the club is becoming, and as long as they retain the Florenzis and Romagnolis, we needn't worry about the club losing its roots.
We're almost 1,000 words into this now, but I think you're getting the picture; Roma's cupboard is far from bare. With a few exceptions, the men on the pitch are already, or will soon be, among the best at their positions league wide, while the men in the suits are adept at making a buck and should (hopefully) realize that paradigm is impossible without a successful product on the pitch.
Tupac said it best, Keep Ya Head Up. Roma is alright.