Every year, the President of the United States gives a State of the Union address to the American people, to outline the current state of the nation and his outlook for the future. I thought it would be interesting to cover some of the topics covered by President after President on a yearly basis, but in calcio terms relating to Roma. Things such as the economy, defense spending, women’s rights, education, infrastructure, etc. So here’s my apolitical State of the Club 2019, all topics Roma.
With the big news that broke on Monday, I thought that infrastructure would be a great place to start. Much like the roads, bridges, and highways discussed by American politicians as an aging infrastructure, Roma plays in a stadium that is in many ways outdated. We love the Stadio Olimpico because it is home with the iconic Curva Sud, but those of us that have been there can tell you, it’s not a great football viewing venue. The running track circling the pitch makes for awful sight lines, even from some of the “closer” seats. If Roma wants to be a global club, they need a home worthy of a global club. It currently resides in a run down two family house that it shares with a cousin that it loathes.
After much political red tape, which has held up the proposed Stadio della Roma, the major announcement we had all been waiting for finally came. The Stadio della Roma finally got the go ahead and ground should be broken in 2019; a major score for the club. Roma will finally have a the state of the art stadium that will allow the club to compete with other bigger clubs around Europe and hopefully reap major economic benefits, a la Juventus, once it opened the J Stadium.
The future economic state of the club is certainly tied into the above mentioned stadium. Of course, the club won’t reap those benefits for a number of years. However, Roma’s finances are in a better state than they were a few years ago. The club is no longer under the gaze of the FIFA Financial Fair Play watch dogs, having straightened the books; thanks to some incredible plusvalenza on players like Alisson, as well as, last season’s deep Champions League run.
This is backed up by Roma moving up to 15th in the most recent Deloitte rankings; second best among Italian clubs. Roma will likely still have to be frugal and offset player purchases with sales for the time being, but in the long run the club’s economic state should vastly improve.
Health care has been a hot button topic in American politics for a number of years now, and ironically has been for the club as well. Roma have had a rash of injury concerns in recent years and this season has been no different. Knock on wood there haven’t been any ACL issues with the first team a la Strootman or Florenzi. However, there have still been plenty of players missing time so far this season, from De Rossi to Ünder, Perotti to Karsdorp, and many more. Injuries continue to be an issue for the Giallorossi.
The children are our future or at least in football terms players in their early 20’s or younger. This is a place that Roma looks to be well stocked. Educating the future stars of European football is something that Monchi and the club have invested heavily in. The Giallorossi currently have nine players 23 years old or younger on the roster and seven of them feature heavily. Even if some of those players are shipped out for profit this summer, it looks like some of them, like Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, will stick around as part of the nucleus of Roma for years to come. In addition, Roma’s Primavera side is stocked with talent and currently sits just three points off the top of the table. Roma seems to be excelling in investing in the education of it’s future.
One thing Presidents always love to tout is how many Americans have found work under their leadership. Well, Roma can tout domestic employment with a different twist. As we outlined a few weeks ago, Roma has been investing more and more in Italian talent under Monchi’s leadership, to the extent that the Italian National Team will have more of a Giallorosso tinge in the coming years. Not only can Roma boast a roster with more domestic talent than most big Italian clubs, it almost certainly is the poster child for fielding local players. Roma currently have Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Florenzi, and Pellegrini on the roster with Luca Pellegrini and Alessio Riccardi, among others potentially on the way. If the current trends continue Roma may soon boast more Italian National Team talent than any other club in Serie A.
Prior to this season, it seemed like all was well and good in this department. However, with the downturn that Roma has taken in this facet of the game, it looks like the club will have to invest more heavily on defense going forward. Federico Fazio and Aleksander Kolarov seem to being on the decline and likely will have be replaced sooner rather than later. Gianluca Mancini is rumored to be in Monchi’s sites and Luca Pellegrini was recently sent to Cagliari on loan, so perhaps the investments along the back line are already lined up.
On Tuesday, President Trump applauded the women of Congress, but we Romanisti now have our own women to applaud. The AS Roma Women’s team is playing out it’s inaugural season and sit fourth out of twelve on the table. Not a bad haul for the new girls on the block. Bravo Roma for getting the women into the game in the Eternal City.
Although things may not always seem rosy in the Capital, it seems like Roma is on the right path forward. The club may not be the exemplar of European or Italian football yet, and may never be. However, with a new stadium on the way and a young talented nucleus the club may soon find itself climbing the ranks of the European elite.