There are precious few stories off the pitch from now until the end of Roma’s season. We bring all the transfer rumours you love to read, but the problem is you can never really judge a transfer as completely good or bad before you have a coach. And before you can get a coach, you need a sporting director.
Enter Sven Mislintat, who I’m hesitant on taking the job for the typos to dodge on his name alone. The German über-scout is searching for his next role after leaving Arsenal just 14 months into his North London stay; it’s a Monchi-esque ending, only Mislintat has never been a sporting director at any club before.
A New Balzaretti-Mislintat Era?
Roma’s interest in Mislintat may just be as chief scout, despite the headlines. Pallotta’s already said to be turned off a repeat scenario of an all-singing, all-mighty sporting director handed “complete control” (yeah, about that...) of the club. Bringing on Mislintat as a scout under sporting director Federico Balzaretti (and/or Ricky Massara) may just be the right synergy to achieve that aim. One handles signing players, while the other bridges the gap between new signings and the club’s culture.
Despite the contentious (and sometimes contradictory) reported reasons behind Mislintat’s departure from Arsenal, there is one clear strength on his track record from his time as Dortmund’s scout: the man has an eye for talent you can turn into a buck, a key quality for Roma’s survival as a club.
Ten years of scouting at Dortmund - from 2007 to 2017 - brought in names like Aubameyang, Dembele, Lewandowski, Kagawa and Hummels to the German outfit who won consecutive Bundesliga titles through Mislintat’s influence. Of course, it helps that Borussia Dortmund have arguably the most impressive stadium in the whole of world football. But we digress.
And like Monchi after Sevilla, Mislintat arguably hasn’t proved that his success at Dortmund was more than a perfect alignment of opportunity and circumstance. His time at Arsenal involved little more than re-signing old Dortmund successes for a second ride before he left.
The only other names the Italian press fancy to take on Roma’s DS role are Lille’s Luis Campos and Torino’s Daniele Petrachi. However, both men’s departure from their current clubs have since been rebuked by their respective presidents.
Petrachi in particular is just as heavily reported to be signing a contract extension with Torino until 2022, while Campos is said to be courted by Chelsea in the Premier League.
Mourinho Contacted By Roma?
Roma’s links with Jose Mourinho continue to heat up on the coaching front. Replacing Eusebio Di Francesco ain’t easy on the face of it; it takes a top-shelf name to wipe out the doubts over whether sacking him was a sound decision in the first place.
Even if we’ll never unanimously agree on the style of play under Di Francesco, the fact remains his record as Roma manager was only bettered over 1-and-a-half-seasons by Allegri at Juventus, as well as the combined points tally of Sarri and Ancelotti at Napoli. Di Francesco’s European record was better than all three in that same time.
So unless you’re planning on signing one of the above names (and Ancelotti would do nicely), then you need a coach who’s old Serie A record speaks volumes straight out the gate. Otherwise we’re not talking about a coaching upgrade, but yet another guy walking the plank of getting fired by James Pallotta in less than 2 years time.
It’s by no coincidence that the Roman press are gunning for only the only three “available” names who’s track record fit the bill: Maurizio Sarri, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho.
There are glaring culture clashes with all three names. All three men are short-termist, won’t hesitate to make a club atmosphere difficult in the aim of getting sacked when things aren’t going their way, and arguably all three are more ambitious on the pitch than Roma’s boardroom.
We could say a ton about how Roma’s mental fragility at the Olimpico would be best served by a coach who can lighten the emotional load on them, and not heap it on in spades like Mourinho, but this is where we are today with our options whether we like it or not.
Sky Italia reporter and Interista Mariangela Pira insists Roma and Inter are competing for the signatures of Mourinho and Conte on their bench for next season. With Inter able to offer a bigger salary to both men, it’s really their first pick to decide who goes where.
The only other name said to be in the running from the B-list of promising coaches is Gennaro Gattuso. If things do not work out for Gattuso at AC Milan, Francesco Totti is said to favour bringing his former World Cup-winning Italy teammate to the Roma bench.