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Roma, where do we want to go?

In recent times on CDT have, to put it lightly, been chaotic. Perhaps this has been the most chaotic I have seen CDT since I stumbled across this group in a desperate attempt to feed my Roma addiction early in the summer of 2018. There seems a real unhappiness and demand for change at Roma with discussions already around the #FonsecaOut camp being created……...after 2 (3) games in.

What, however, is the plan for Roma going forward? It is all well and good demanding to change the manager after some poor results, but the direction of where we are going as the new Roma has to be decided first before this. I have read the rumours of Allergi being the favourite by the media and fans here for the new job, but I can’t help think this would be a total flip reversal of what Roma has tried to achieve over the years.

In order to look at where Roma is going to go next, it is important to analyse where we have come from and what we have tried. The mention in the podcast from Bren of Star Wars Episode two, and then the mention of it by Dallagente in his recent post got me thinking of the parallels between my time at CDT and the original six Star Wars episodes.

Chapter one: The Phantom Menace – The arrival of Monchi heralds a new age

The arrival of the Phantom Menace himself, Monchi, and what he could bring to the club starts the saga off beautifully. He is the most sought after DS in all of Europe and here he is rocking up at Roma, my Roma!!!! The excitement was unbridled on my end that he could finally turn Roma from the bridesmaid to the bride.

For years Roma had a plan under Sabatini of finding the best young players in Europe and flipping them for a massive profit in order to deal with the debt. Seems like a good plan on paper, and to be fair the amount of times it had worked for Roma under the previous DS was quite impressive. So, when you hire the supposed best DS in all of Europe, wanted by half of Europe, and who has a amazing record of finding talent on a limited budget things can only get better, right?

Chapter two: Attack of the Clones – Cloning the successful Sevilla system

The idea behind hiring Monchi was that we would recreate the system that he had in place at Sevilla, except that at Roma he would have even more money to spend. The simple premise of you buying a young player for £20 million, instead of £10 million, should mean that he has a higher or easier to reach ceiling that means you can sell him on for an even bigger profit.

This is what excited me about his tenure. I had visions of Roma buying the best up and coming talents and developing them into a real team that could take on anyone. The signing of Kluivert is one example of this. Here was one of the hottest talents coming from a major club outside the real big dogs of European football and we snatched him up before everyone else. The £17 million spent on him, and with the potential he had, meant that after 3 successful years at Roma he would be packing his bags to follow his father to Barcelona for around £60 million. This would pay off some of the debt and we could then put half of that into his replacement. Eventually this model would pay off the debt completely and we could keep one of his successors and make a incredibly competitive team.

Chapter three: Revenge of the Sith - Malcolm’s agents revenge

Now I am not comparing Malcolm’s agent to a evil Sith lord who manipulate the world for Monchi’s downfall. I am suggesting that this is where the start of the end of his tenure began. His tenure got off to a bad start with the whole "we are not a supermarket" comment, which for this analogy can be likened to the appearance of Jar Jar Binks. It was just at this moment that was when the model and the club unravelled. It was the beginning of the end from the moment Malcolm never arrived on that plane.

The reason this was the beginning of the end is obvious if you follow the trail back. Monchi declared he wanted to sign a big name player and Malcolm was sought after by Arsenal, Tottenham, and eventually Barcelona at the time. Monchi never got his "champion" in Malcolm he wanted, so he grew desperate to not fall victim to another "supermarket" like comment. He signs N’Zonzi instead as his "champion" which causes him to sell Strootman ripping out the heart of the team creating chaos, causing De Rossi to even be upset. The rest, well you will all be aware of…….

Chapter Four: A New Hope – A new DS, Roma year zero, a new hope?

After the Monchi debacle came the year zero that was coined here at CDT. A new hope was in town and under Petrachi things looked like they were going to improve, if only slowly. The gods of FFP (evil empire anyone?) were circling and he done his best to fend them off.

Thanks to some budgeting transfers, or shall I say fudgeting (even the evil Emperor Platini can be tricked) Roma had a solid transfer market to start with. Yes we lost a Pellegrini (maybe the wrong one perhaps?), but we built what could be a solid core of a team and with Fonesecaball in its infancy there was a real buzz about this place. We were going to do things right. Build a solid team with a style of play and go forth and free the football galaxy…….

Chapter Five: Empire Strikes Back - The empire, or rather Roma, strikes back.

New DS, same old problems for Roma it would seem. Despite getting off to a relatively solid start to the season the rumours started again about the chaos that surrounded the club. The rants from Petrachi and the rumours that surrounded the club created this sense of impending doom. That Roma happens would happen any time. Except the prophecy in this story isn’t to return balance to the force, rather to return stories to paper and fans to tune into radio stations.

The whole rant and cause of Petrachi could warrant a full blog post on its on, and in if this is successful I might even attempt to purvey my feelings on the "culture" that surrounds Roma and how it will forever handicap us until we sort it. For the sake of this blog, and to save reliving the dark days of the empire striking back I will skip a recap.

Chapter Six: Return of the Jedi – Arrival of the "Saviours" Friedkin

Now we get on to the main reason I wrote this piece. The owners are in place, but what happens next in the Romasaga? Things haven’t exactly gotten off to smooth start for the Friedkins with their purchase being delayed due to COVID, the "Diawara debacle", and the continued lack of movement on the transfer market. There was the hope amongst us all that new owners meant we could go on a spending spree. That there would be no longer be big player sales and that we would be the big fish stealing up all the talent from other clubs. However, things have not panned out the way we had hoped and now the club is a at a huge crossroads.

With the rumoured return of El Shaaraway, Rudiger and even Totti to a directors position it feels as if we are paying homage to the Star Wars recent sequel by bringing back all these former stars. Almost as if in a vain attempt to try and rebuild the relatively successful Roma team of pre-Monchi. The club is changing direction from the buy young and cheap, sell them older and for more plan to something that I am not sure they themselves are aware of yet. The signing of Kumbulla follows the path we have been on for all these years, but the rumours around Allegri, letting go of Kluivert and Under suggest a change in policy. Even the deadline transfer of Smalling, who yes was a great success, and the attempt at Bernard fly totally in the face of what we once knew as the core of Roma’s plan.

Allegri isn’t the type manager that develops players. He is a manager who has won, and will most likely want to continue doing so with the best players possible, which Roma quite simply can afford. The fans here glamour for his name as if he is some sort of Jedi who will use the force to solve all our issues. The fact is he is probably exactly the wrong type of manager we need at this club right now. Even a return of Spalletti, who in my opinion should be treated with a lot more respect here, is the wrong step. They are both managers who want to win now. The idea of developing youth players goes out the window with both of these managers.

What I am really asking is where do my fellow readers at CDT want Roma to go? We all want us to be successful, but the fact is we aren’t going to win anything soon with where we are. Yes moaning and complaining makes us happy as humans but after a while it is depressing. The club need to settle on a strategy and go with it, whether we hate it or not. The hard decisions are hard for a reason after all.

My opinion, if you care to have read this far, in what Roma should do is one that probably won’t be popular amongst the majority of the fans here at CDT. It is, however, the one that I feel is necessary to create a new Roma that can hopefully satisfy us demanding fans in the long term. The plan is as follows:

  • · Write off the next 3/4 years
  • · Get rid of the debt by slashing the budget
  • · Get a manager who focuses on youth
  • · Gut the club of the poor culture that surrounds it

Roma, since I have been a fan from the early 2000s, have been consistently fighting debt. Until we get rid of that we can’t keep a solid team together and we are chasing our shadows. The new owners need to downsize the club in order to get somewhere long term. Lets spend a few years focusing on getting rid of the debt.

Will the team the Friedkins build be like the sequel trilogy turning and changing in styles until what they actually create is a disaster in itself? A squad that no one wants with an absolute mish mash of players that have no re-sale value. Or do they have a concrete idea in their heads of where this saga is going?