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Who Will Be Roma’s Next Sporting Director?

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Will anyone work for Smithers and Burns at Roma? We list the media-favourites to replace Monchi

Cagliari v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images

You only need to look at Roma securing an overnight sponsorship with Qatar Airways in time for Anfield, after the good performance against Barcelona, to see how the Monchi-Di Francesco strategy on the pitch helped do upper management’s job for the club off of it.

In that context, Monchi and EDF were the pragmatism and common sense Roma needed. The short-term decisions of the men left behind, after their dismissal, look like plain old fear. None of this takes away credit from Pallotta for the non-footballing decisions he’s taken to benefit the club. And I won’t be villifying Pallotta’s era, as it’s not worth it.

Pallotta’s management isn’t the kind of super-villainy the likes of which Roma has never seen, but rather the same old, same old with which the club is all too familiar. There’s nothing remarkable or story-worthy about mediocrity. This week, former Roma affiliates weighed in to repeat the same cautionary tale. Former president Rosella Sensi - who knows all about bad decisions herself - told Retesport: “I wouldn’t give any advice to the new owner, because now I’m just a fan. And I’ve been on the end of too much wrong advice.”

Former Roma consultant and infamous figure Luciano Moggi then weighed in to Roma’s Radio Radio a day later: “Sarri probably will be Roma’s coach in the near future. But one thing is clear. Not knowing much about football himself, this president from Boston has surrounded himself with bad advice. He’s obviously a president who throws the floor open to people who understand little about football.”

Is there anyone left in the DS talent pool willing to make the brave decisions on behalf of Pallotta and company? Or will we just be left signing guys willing to take the job for the severance pay?

We take a look at the media favourites for the role of Roma’s sporting director.


Daniele Faggiono

Udinese v Parma Calcio - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Who?

Another goalkeeper-turned-director, Daniele Faggiono is Parma’s current sporting director.

What has he done?

With Parma, he became the only sporting director in calcio’s entire history to oversee 3 straight promotions from calcio’s basement to Serie A.

What kind of teams has he built?

His Parma team is a blend of veterans like Bruno Alves and Gervinho, mixed in with top prospects beyond the club’s means that were signed on loan e.g. Roberto Inglese upfront, Luigi Sepe in goal, and Alessandro Bastoni in defence. It’s been good enough for Parma to currently sit in 11th on their first campaign back in the big time.

What kind of head coach would he bring?

If you believe anything is possible for Roma, then Faggiono is the club’s route to putting Antonio Conte on the Roma bench for next season. Conte is out of a job and knows Faggiono well from their time together earning Siena’s last promotion to Serie A. When Faggiono earned his recent pay raise with Parma, the first thing he did was celebrate at lunch the next day with friend Antonio Conte.

Has he ever stuck his neck out on the line?

Faggiono, along with Conte, agreed to be the fall guy for Siena players’ indiscretions in the 2012 betting scandal. He served a sentence and suspension for not snitching on his players.


Piero Ausilio

Torino FC v FC Internazionale Milano - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Who?

The guy who agreed to sell off Nicolò Zaniolo for 4 million euros. Right.

What has he done?

Nothing noteworthy that we know. Unless you count him convincing Stefan de Vrij to sign for Inter Milan, right before de Vrij put in a terrible performance for Lazio on the last day of the season, costing them their CL spot to rivals Inter in the process.

What kind of teams has he built?

In May 2010, treble-winning Inter Milan were the kings of football on all fronts. Months later, Ausilio became their DS. It’s been barren since. However, he did put together the third-best defence in Italy this season, with former consultant Walter Sabatini’s help.

What kind of head coach would he bring?

Ausilio’s the type of guy to hire Gianpiero Gasperini then fire him 5 games later.

Has he ever stuck his neck out on the line?

No sign of that. He’s turned Mauro Icardi from a world-class talent into a guy who can’t even keep constructive criticism in perspective. The only reason Ausilio is being linked with the Roma job is because they haven’t extended his contract at Inter, after the club brought in Beppe Marotta for some much-needed backbone upstairs.


Massimo Mirabelli

AC Milan v Austria Wien - UEFA Europa League Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Who?

The guy who jumped ship from Inter to AC Milan in 2016, for an owner who’s phantom Chinese billions never existed. Mirabelli is currently unemployed.

What has he done?

What, getting sucked into the modern-day version John Spano’s Islanders wasn’t good enough for you? I’d dine out on that story for years.

What kind of teams has he built?

To be fair to Mirabelli, he has built winning teams in Italy’s lower leagues over ten years ago. Maybe he was happier back then. Outside of the AC Milan dream-gone-wrong, Mirabelli has never been trusted as more than a chief scout in Serie A. He has a reputation for flying to South America for months at a time.

What kind of head coach would he bring?

No one. He relied on either money or club loyalties to attract anyone to Milan’s bench.

Has he ever stuck his neck out on the line?

He’s consistently asked for a blank cheque at whichever club he worked for as DS. Whether it be in Serie C1 or Serie A. He also stuck his neck out on the line for Gianluigi Donnarumma, agreeing to sign his brother on a playing contract at the club to get Donnarumma to stay. Mirabelli has gone on record to say that was a mistake he regrets.


Gianluca Petrachi

AC ChievoVerona v FC Torino - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Who?

Torino’s sporting director since 2010.

What has he done?

He’s done a hell of a job successfully flipping players. Matteo Darmian, Danilo D’Ambrosio, Bruno Peres, Ciro Immobile, Antonio Barreca... it could go on. He knows how to buy low, sell high.

What kind of teams has he built?

Hard working but imbalanced Torino sides.

What kind of head coach would he bring?

No one who believes in beautiful football. After all, he’s partly responsible for Gian Piero Ventura getting called to the Italy bench. Which led to.... yeah, let’s not revisit it.

Has he ever stuck his neck out on the line?

Petrachi flies under the radar, but you have to be made of some tough stuff to work with Torino owner Cairo; who’s one of the most forward-thinking, big-picture owners in Italian football.


Ricky Massara and Federico Balzaretti

GianlucaDiMarzio.com

Who?

These two men are Roma’s current sporting directors. For Massara, it’s his second spell in the job.

What have they done?

Balzaretti convinced Mirante to come to Rome, and was responsible for setting up the club’s links in Holland, to loan players out to the Dutch second division. This is nothing to tear down trees over, but the point is Balzaretti works hard and gets stuck in. He hasn’t wasted time since his playing career was cut short five years ago. Massara has worked as the vice-DS to both Sabatini and Monchi.

What kind of teams have they built?

None so far.

What kind of head coach would they bring?

Who knows? Keep an open phone line to Monchi or Walter, or let’s hope they stole Monchi’s filofax.

Have they ever stuck their neck out on the line?

Massara left former mentor Sabatini to come back and work for Roma. Balzaretti has barely begun to write his own story in football management.