The firing of Gianluca Petrachi was arguably the last major decision Jim Pallotta made as President of Roma, and to a certain extent it was emblematic of his tenure. The signing of Petrachi away from Torino little over a year ago was considered a coup at the time, and after the disappointments of Monchi Magic, it was a relief that Roma went with a DS who had actual Serie A experience.
Of course, the fact that Petrachi is gone so soon into his Roma tenure, and due to a tiff with the outgoing President over public praise at that, speaks to the tenuous nature of having any job at Roma during the Pallotta Era. There’s an old saying that says “if someone tells you that all of their exes are crazy, think about what all those people had in common,” and it certainly seems like that may have been the case with Jim Pallotta and his merry-go-round of managers, directors, and more. Yet Petrachi’s recent comments suggest an even deeper issue with Pallotta’s Roma, and makes me even more glad that we’ve moved on to The Friedkin Era.
While speaking to Ansa (English translation via RomaPress), Petrachi said the following:
“I found myself alone against everyone,” said Petrachi. ”I was abandoned by the ownership, which was too distant from Rome, the club, and also the supporters. I had asked in vain to remove those that violated the secrets of the dressing room or, even worse, undermined internal relations”.
”And maybe according to some, I should have also avoided going into the dressing room during halftime when we were losing 3-0 to Sassuolo. I did so to encourage the players not to trample on their own dignity”.
“Seeing a team I built being humiliated like this was a blow to the heart. And if I went down to the dressing room that evening, I did so only and exclusively for Roma and the supporters, especially for those who, despite the enormous disappointment, were still there at the stadium and never stopped singing. And then as early as January, I realised it wouldn’t be easy to carry out the three-year project that was entrusted to me only a few months before as Pallotta ordered us to downsize the team”.
Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack here, but my biggest takeaway from Petrachi’s comments is that all of the people who repeatedly said Pallotta lived too far away from Rome to really understand the goings-on at the club had a point. Even with Pallotta’s second-in-command Franco Baldini reportedly pulling the strings at Roma, Baldini was often conducting business in England, not in Italy. Simply put, Pallotta was too often an owner In absentia, and not in a good way.
I’d also point out that these comments make it clearer why, despite rumors, Petrachi wasn’t immediately welcomed back to Rome when The Friedkin Group took over. It seems that Petrachi burned his bridges with nearly everyone at the club on his way out the door, not just with Jim Pallotta. Rumors of Petrachi barging into the locker room and stealing Paulo Fonseca’s thunder probably have some truth to them, and considering The Friedkin Group has decided to keep on CEO Guido Fienga and Fonseca (at least for the medium term), Petrachi returning to Rome was most likely a deal-breaker for both.
That saying about people with only “crazy exes” probably applies to Gianluca Petrachi as much as it applies to Jim Pallotta. Remember, when Petrachi left Torino for Rome, he burned all of his bridges on the way out the door after a decade of helping bring Turin’s other club into European football and relative prominence. The fact that Petrachi left Rome in a similar huff indicates that maybe Petrachi needs to learn to be a better coworker before he can handle the bright lights of managing a big club’s transfers.
If there’s one thing that seems clear from the early stages of The Friedkin Group’s ownership of Roma, it’s that they like keeping a lid on rumors and aren’t huge fans of people with tempers. Those are good qualities in a sports club owner, even if it’s less exciting than having someone like Gianluca Petrachi rant about pesky reporters or Jim Pallotta go on a warpath against Roman newspapers.
Quiet owners don’t sell as many newspapers or get as many clicks, sure, but owners aren’t in the business of making money for journalists. They’re in the business of winning football games, and if a quieter Roma leads to a Roma that wins more often, I’ll accept the lack of fireworks from management comments. We’ll still be able to remember Petrachi, Sabatini, and Pallotta, and I’ll be happier remembering them if Roma’s trophy cabinet can start to put on some weight.