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Monchi Speaks on Totti and Spalletti

Totti vs. Spalletti vs Roma. Who draws first?

AS Roma v Juventus FC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Generally speaking, social media is a wonderful tool for a modern football fan. Removed from your club of choice by thousands of miles, you can still feel part of the action by connecting with fellow fans, the club and even the players, sharing your stories, your hopes, your dreams and your anxieties. Following a football club online is also a unique sociological experiment. In the wake of Roma’s 3-1 thrashing, you’d expect the Romasphere to be all sunshine and rainbows, right?

Oh, you silly boy. Rather than being content with such a resounding and important victory, a sizeable portion of the fanbase voiced their displeasure on with Luciano Spalletti’s usage (or lack thereof) of Francesco Totti, who was given a token stoppage time appearance yesterday, adding further fuel to the Spalletti vs Totti—and by extension the Spalletti is leaving—fire.

Despite the tone of these first two paragraphs, I’m not casting aspersions on either party, as I have found myself hopping between the two camps, but a win over Juventus is a win over Juventus, so I didn’t find myself as irate as I was when Totti was left on the bench at the San Siro last week. But again, take a look at Twitter and you’ll find plenty of vitriol and smugness on both sides of the aisle.

Of course, fans opinions are just that, opinions. What do the people in charge think? Well, for that answer we’ll turn to Monchi himself.

On Totti:

Francesco’s future potential is so great that we hope to use him because he knows Roma better than anyone else and for me, as a newcomer, he’d be a great teacher to learn everything from in as short time as possible.

We’ll wait for him to make a decision, he asked us to focus on [Roma’s] last games and reminded us how the good of Rome was more important than all of us.

You have to feel somewhat bad for Monchi, entering such an unprecedented shitstorm less than a month into the job, but when you sign on with Roma you must reckon with Totti, his legacy and his meaning to the fans, and it appears as though Monchi is taking a passive, politically correct path into the storm.

Rather than staking a claim in either direction, Monchi just paraphrased what he said last week—that he has a lot to learn from Totti—while leaving the ball in his court, though at this point you have to wonder what the higher ups will do if Totti doesn’t decide to retire; talk about an awkward and uncomfortable position. But if you’re Monchi, this is probably the only choice you had—openly antagonizing a club legend isn’t the best way to introduce yourself to the fanbase.

On Spalletti:

My ideal Coach would be Spalletti because that’s who I’ve worked with since I came here, and I want to continue with him. I’m excited to work with Luciano.

Now that we’re in touch every day, he’s made a great impression on me and we’ll see how it goes. Of course, it’s a situation that’s pending.

We’ll work silently to look for other options if Luciano doesn’t want to continue his relationship [with the club]

Granted, the situations are completely different, but you’ll notice the lack of ambiguity here. When speaking about Totti, Monchi parses his words, careful to not tip his hand in either direction, but when asked about Spalletti, he makes no qualms about his desire to continue their working relationship. And given all that we’ve read and heard from the administration over the past 18 months, one can presume that the rest of the front office is operating in the same manner—ambiguity towards Totti and affection towards Spalletti.

Connect the dots and you’ll see what a unique and caustic situation this is. Everyone involved with the club, from James Pallotta down to the new guy, Monchi, are fully aware that they must treat Totti with a certain reverence, lest they risk pissing off the fans, but at the same time their secret desire is that he simply walks away, thereby giving Spalletti, their preferred coach, further motivation to return to Roma because it's become quite evident that this Totti vs Roma saga has weighed heavily on his conscience, as he is cast, fairly or not, as the man who ran a legend out of town.

It’s an incredibly odd and untenable position, one in which all parties involved are walking on eggshells, waiting for the other side to make a decision, and it’s one that is tainting the legacy of two men, and one that might rob Roma of a club icon and arguably the best manager in their history.

And we have no idea how, when or where it will end.