The Chiesa di Totti got its start as a round-table discussion among far-flung AS Roma fanatics who came together to discuss the big picture issues facing the club. We've carried on that tradition over the years through our round-table series where we've discussed both the micro and macro issues facing Roma. While it's a series we still enjoy doing, one can't help but shake the feeling that Roma, much like the world itself, is at a massive inflection point.
With everything from the kit supplier to the owner of the club in flux, there may not be a single facet of the club immune from change this summer. Considering the weight and consequence of those circumstances, rather than keeping the discussion in house, it felt more appropriate to solicit feedback from the fan-base as a whole.
Last week, we published a fan survey—an AS Roma State of the Union—that gauged your opinion on the larger issues facing the club at the moment. We had a high volume of responses, so without further delay, let's dive into the numbers. And once again, thank you to everyone who participated—this is definitely something we'll revisit in the future.
Rate Roma's Current State of Affairs
As you'll see, most of this survey resulted in varying degrees of plurality, but with 52.4% of the vote, the majority of fans surveyed feel the club is trending downwards. Keep in mind, the majority of these responses came before Roma dropped matches to Udinese and Napoli.
Only 5% of respondents indicated the club was trending upwards while nearly 41% felt the club is treading water.
We tried to probe for specifics behind those responses in the ensuing questions, so let's have a look at those results.
What Is the Biggest Problem Currently Facing the Club?
This one was a no-doubter. While a decent percentage of respondents indicated that a lack of revenue compared to top clubs was the biggest thorn in Roma’s side, an OVERWHELMING majority of you cited inconsistent leadership as the biggest issue facing the club. With the sale of the club up in the air and Gianluca Petrachi suspended from his duties as Director of Sport, inconsistent leadership was probably bound to win this category, but even I wasn't expecting over 70% of the vote to lean that way.
Despite the doom and gloom, we also asked you what gave you hope for the future.
What Gives You the Most Hope for Roma's Future?
We opened this one up for some individual responses, but this was a neck and neck race between Roma's young core (Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Kluivert, etc.) and the construction of the new stadium, but Zaniolo and company took the honors by a slim 2.5% margin.
In terms of the individual responses, you found hope in Paulo Fonseca, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, your fellow fans, and pure and simple faith.
Next up, the man on the touchline.
What Are Paulo Fonseca's Greatest Strengths as a Manager?
This question allowed for multiple responses, but as you can see Fonseca's tactical flexibility (which was on display against Napoli) and his communication with players were named as his greatest strengths, while his bangs polled a respectable 31%.
Then we flipped it around...
What Are Paulo Fonseca's Most Glaring Weaknesses as a Manager?
With nearly two-thirds of the votes, Fonseca's in-match adjustments were far and away his greatest weaknesses according to our readership. It seems that nearly every week we discuss the decisions or substitutions Fonseca makes in any given match, so these results weren't terribly surprising either, but shame on the 10% of you who think his bangs are a weakness.
Then we asked the pertinent Fonseca question...
Is Paulo Fonseca the Right Manager to Carry Roma Into the Future?
We ran this survey a week ago—before the losses to Udinese and Napoli—so I'd be curious to see if the results would change if we started from scratch, but cooler heads did prevail as nearly 45% of you believe it's too soon to tell if Fonseca is the right man for the job, while a further 42% of respondents were clear in their support of Fonseca.
James Pallotta gave Fonseca a boost prior to the defeat against Napoli, but we've already seen Luciano Spalletti and now Mauricio Pochettino connected to the Roma bench for next season, so the journalists in Rome don't seem as patient as our readers.
We then turned our attention to the roster itself.
What Does the Squad Need Most Right Now?
Roma's over-reliance on Edin Dzeko was evident here as 47% of respondents believed that Roma needs a young but proven striker above all else. After that, it was a pretty even race between a midfield play-maker, an attacking full-back and a lock-down defender. I'm not sure how much Roma will focus on the midfield this summer, but full-back and striker figure to be areas of focus for Roma on the transfer market, so you may get your wish just yet.
Make the Tough Call: You Have to Sell One of These Players
Cengiz Ünder and Justin Kluivert have dominated the Roma rumor mill throughout the spring and early summer, so it's no surprise to see them running away with the votes here, but with 65% of the tally, most of you would feel fine seeing Ünder leave Trigoria this summer; a prospect that looks increasingly likely with Napoli and Everton keen on his services.
If Roma is Sold Soon, What One Thing Do You Want Most From the New Owner?
Oh man, look at that: we were only one-tenth of a percentage point away from exactly half of you wanting a specific and dedicated long-term plan from Roma's new owners. Pallotta has done a lot of good things for the club, but the lack of clarity, consistency, and cohesion has plagued the club almost from day one. A new stadium would be nice, but I'm not sure it trumps knowing what the “project” is and how it plans to meet its objectives.
The final question in our fan survey asked you to send a message to Roma's current leadership. We asked you to keep it PG-13, but there were, um, some interesting messages, not mention more than few that simply said “sell”, "leave” or “GTFO.” Good stuff all around.
There were sooo many great, thoughtful, hilarious, frustrated and just straight-up angry responses, but here are a few of the best and/or more entertaining entries.
An appeal to be more like Atalanta—not as crazy as it would have sounded 18 months ago
I would really appreciate if you see the club not only as an asset and a supermarket,but as an important project to create a team that can compete with the top teams in Europe once again.
I know we aren’t exactly the size of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, even Juventus in terms of capital gains,we don’t need to be,take for example Atalanta.With good financial management and not selling every good player each year we can be a fierce rival on the pitch. Forza Roma
A quick plea for some long-range planning
Think in the long run. Roma needs continuity and, although seemingly impossible, stability. Pretty much all projects have been cut, due to a lack of patience.
Can we get a blueprint!?
Can we please have a coherent sporting plan? I feel like our sporting direction is make top 4 no matter what the consequences are. I completely understand that Roma is not an elite club, where we can hold onto our assets, but I followed this club since 2002, but this club does not have any clear sporting direction. If you are to replace your managers and players year after year, you have to have a core plan, so the transition is less rocky, but way we purchase players and hiring our managers seem to indicate that we just don’t have a clear idea how we are going to play. You need to have a blue print if changes are inevitable, but I seriously don’t sense that from our front office.
This person had a very specific tactical request
For once appoint a manager who plays a solid defensively 3-5-2, instead of the wannabe Guardiolas who try possession based 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1(like Enrique,Garcia,EDF and Paolo).
No arguments here. This wasn't me, I swear.
STOP SELLING OUR BEST PLAYERS TO LIVERPOOL YOU WANKERS!!!!!!!!!
Elaine from Seinfeld chimes in
Dear Roma Leadership,
You are George Constanza and we, the fans, are Elaine. We never thought highly of you and if it werent for Jerry (Roma) we would want nothing to do with you. Yet we are inextricably linked because we love Jerry for no apparent logical reason, hes a bit of a dick (and hasnt won Serie A in ages). Anyways, for one episode George tried to do the exact opposite of any instinct he had and things went really well for him. The universe needs balance so as George went up Elaine’s life fell apart. With Covid, a depression, police brutality and systemic racism, we Elaine, are falling apart. George, now is your chance to cash in on some universal balancing act by doing the opposite of every instinct you have and consequently succeed. And just like in the episode nothing will change for Jerry. Roma will always be Roma. But we can at least feel like the ship is moving steadily forward. And we all need a little bit of forward moment right now.
P.s. get out from under you desk and answer the fucking phone I cant believe im recording this message after your stupid answer machine song.
I found this one to be a pure, simple, and emotional summation of what we've endured over the past few years.
You care about balancing the books more than you care about us. You’ve broken my heart. Roma is bigger than you will ever be and one day someone else will bring us back to where we should be.
Some straight forward financial advise here: don't rob Peter to pay Paul.
Stop borrowing from the future to pay today’s debt. If we need to balance the books, then suck it up for a year or two and do it the right way.
We'll end it with a rational response from the Republic of Texas.
Constant instability is not a “plan” or an attribute that breeds success. It’s a sign that something is wrong with the upper hierarchy of the club.
Yes, we are a demanding fan base. Yes, there are financial issues that have to be addressed. But we should be demanding. We’re Roma! The namesake and home team of the most famous city in the history of the world! Why aren’t you as demanding of success and glory as we are?
Actually put together a legitimate plan for the sustainable success of the club, or sell to someone who will. (I know you’re trying. But try harder.) It’s devastating to see our players leave our club and then lift major trophies with other teams.
— A Roma fan in Texas (who’s not named Friedkin.)
I had so much fun reading these, so let me say an extra thank you to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts in long form; it was amazing.
Roma is a big club with fans in every corner of the globe, so forming a consensus, even among the CdT set, is practically impossible. But, looking at this data, one thing is practically universal: Roma fans are desperate for a shred of consistency from the club's leadership. Nearly every other problem we've cited in these spaces stems from the constant upheaval in the club's administration: the managerial changes, the multiple directors of sport, the crushing sales and even the changes in the medical staff; it all starts at the very top.
What I loved most about the long-form responses (particularly that last one) was that many of them acknowledged the good Pallotta has done for the club but were quick to point out that, to many of us, it seems like he's taken Roma as far as he can. And while we wait and hope for a new owner to really put the club over the top, we're the ones who are left to suffer because we live and breathe Roma.
This was very enlightening, so thank you again for your responses!
So what do you think? Do these results paint an accurate picture?