The new season is on our doorstep and we thought we’d write James Pallotta’s next radio tirade before he even rants it. On Pallotta’s list of character assassinations to come for 2019/20 is none other than tough-guy sporting director Gianluca Petrachi, charismatic coach Paulo Fonseca and whoever else Pallotta can line up to blame for Roma missing out on the top 4 by summer 2020.
Here are 3 reasons why Pallotta has to fire them before the continuity at Roma gets so stable that it actually becomes volatile:
Fonseca’s Pressure Tactics Will Break the Get-Along Gang
The one theme marking Paulo Fonseca’s career is that he enjoys a challenge against the odds. His latest mission is to motivate a Roma dressing room full of yes-men who’ll hide behind others when the first sign of pressure hits; players smart enough to see that anyone who’s lauded in Rome keeps their mouth shut to let someone else take the fall - both off and on the pitch.
We won’t be surprised if Roma’s HR team found Paulo Fonseca by simply Googling “Zeman + possession”. The new coach likes to commit as many men forward in a system that needs players who can handle the pressure of moving as a unit, not giving up spaces between them and having each other’s backs. Stop me if you’ve heard this philosophy already under messieurs Enrique, Di Francesco and Zeman.
Fonseca might be even more demanding than Zeman when it comes to physical training and preparation. We’ve seen this kind of footballing philosophy come undone on the pitch with Roma, time and again, over the last decade. These Roma players are well-practiced at claiming all is going well... until it isn’t. Until your 7 attackers are caught high up the pitch, and your backline has been left exposed. Until your nervous midfielders stop moving and leave it all to the winger to beat 2-3 men at a time before he’s caught in possession and you’re hammed on the counter.
And by then you’re out in Europe with yet more pressure on the sporting director to make up the losses.
Petrachi Driven to Desperation in Non-Sales
Opinion divides on whether Roma needs to come up big on the sales front by next summer, or has a three-year stay of execution until the summer of 2022. But everyone is clear on one thing: Roma still need to come up sales. Period.
If Petrachi cannot create a market for the lesser-desired Roma players, then he will end up submitting to other clubs’ demands for Roma’s star talent before long. We’re talking, by January 2020 worst case scenario. Remember Emerson Palmieri and Dzeko-gate to Chelsea? There’s nothing like January speculation to rob the team of momentum mid-season.
Even Monchi managed to sell Juan Iturbe for money. Even Sabatini managed to sell Dodo to Inter Milan. Does Petrachi have it in him to do the same?
Stephan El Shaarawy left because his brother had been working on the deal for months. Manolas left because Raiola had been working on the deal beforehand. Gerson left because his father had lined up the deal for Petrachi. Luca Pellegrini’s sale is the one major outgoing deal that Petrachi has created on his own, and that isn’t even real but pure accounting profit. The real money on that deal was still money out for Leonardo Spinazzola. Speculation around bringing in Daniele Rugani this week suggests Petrachi is willing to do more of the same pure gambling that landed Spinazzola.
Either the club sells big names, or it sells off the Primavera talent on pre-written “blockbuster” fees. None of it real. All of it to satisfy FFP while he hopes that the “Year Zero” signings these fake fees are financing aren’t a bust on the pitch. Alessandro Austini has already gone to the airwaves to say Italian football cannot keep generating fake profits this way. We’ll be left with clubs who cannot sell or move players league-wide, all except for Juventus.
Of course, the buck doesn’t stop with Petrachi. Roma’s new DS is forced to take these risks because he agreed to work for an inept boardroom that wants to pretend it’s driving a Mercedes while ticking over the engine at Hyundai prices. And yes, Hyundais are thoroughly decent cars - when you’re not busy pretending they’re anything other than Hyundais.
If the Tactics and Sales Won’t Kill You, The Medical Staff Will
What more can be said about this preview glance into our impending spiral to Serie A disgrace and disrepute? Only that if your morale isn’t thoroughly crushed by the end of this article, get in touch with Roma’s medical team to finish the job.
We like to pretend Javier Pastore is a player beyond recovery at any club. But if his odds of getting over his calf problems were dicey in Paris, those chances weren’t helped by moving to the slacker culture of Rome. While Jordan Veretout is already best-friends with the injury table this summer. A minor setback in his final days at Fiorentina has extended to zero appearances in Roma’s pre-season games for the Frenchman. Let’s not forget Veretout relies on athleticism to make half of his game work. Radja Nainggolan has already been undone by this club, and only Veretout’s ‘stay at home dad’ ethic can save him from a similar fate. Leonardo Spinazzola is out indefinitely before the season has begun. That’s expected for a player who’s still on the road to ACL recovery. And then there are Pastore, Coric and Gonalons as warning signs for the raft of injuries to come this season.
Look for part two later today in which we talk about three ways Roma will EXCEED expectations this season.