When Roma appointed former Benfica executive Tiago Pinto as the club's new “General Manager, Football” most fans had two questions: a) what the hell does that mean? and b) will they still hire a regular Director of Sport? While we'll know the answer to part a in time, Pinto put the second question to bed: no one else is arriving—he's handling all of the club's transfer activity.
Pinto, who officially started his new job on January 1st but was delayed due to a COVID diagnosis, just wrapped up his introductory press conference. Here are some highlights. Translations via Football Italia and/or RomaNews:
On the decision to leave Benfica and his new role with Roma:
It was not easy to leave Benfica, you all know how much I love the club...Dan and Ryan Friedkin explained me what they want to build here. I’ve understood I could play a key role in the development of the club and make the team more competitive.
This is a medium-to-long term project and sustainability is crucial to gain victories in football, but nobody can predict when we will win.
We have ambition and we must have it every day. Our aim must be to do better than the day before. If we’ll be able to do that, we’ll win.
There are clubs who have invested a lot, but haven’t won much, we are working every day to make Roma more competitive, we need to be united and we’ll reach our targets all together.
On the club's new approach, working with Paulo Fonseca and any possible January signings;
We have no language barriers with [Paulo] Fonseca. We are working together to find the best solutions. We want to keep hold of our best players as long as possible. We want to make them develop and keep them for as much time as we can and be competitive.
Fonseca is the fifth coach I’m working with, I know him very well. I identify myself in his ideas, an offensive and dynamic football. His ideas are the right ones for this club.
I can’t say how many operations we’ll do in January, we are working to make the best deals.I repeat this is a medium to-long term project and we are working to make the team more competitive
On the decision to forgo hiring a DS:
Just to be clear, no one will come, no one will be signed. My role is that of general manager of the entire sports area and, very importantly, I come here to work with the people who are already there. My first mission is to get to know these collaborators to understand the processes and make my contribution, otherwise my presence here would not make much sense. I will take care of the management of the sports area, together with Dan and Ryan. I believe that it is currently very important to have a very strong and very solid scouting department. Many things have changed, even in terms of the analysis of the players. It is essential that there is strong scouting. It does not mean that they are not already, but that it is important that it is a scouting for Roma
On whether or not the role of DS is outdated:
Great question. In Portuguese we say that it is more important to discuss things than to discuss the name of things. This is why we intend to build a management model that I have already explained. We want to start a different management that I will obviously lead. Often we focus on discussing titles, qualifications and names and not on substance. I will be the GM, the person who will supervise the sports area, but within the model I have illustrated to you
For more of Pinto's presser, follow this link, but a few things were abundantly clear: rather than making promises or bold proclamations, Pinto chose to focus on the slow-burn approach of a “medium to long-term project", which seems like basic PC speak, but it's an important point to get across to a notoriously impatient fanbase, particularly since the latest incarnation of Roma (2.0? 3.0? I've lost track by now) is only a few months old.
Pinto also made a point of saying that he identifies with Fonseca's footballing philosophies, having known his new manager for many years, and hailed analytics-focused clubs like Midtjylland and Brentford while being careful to say stats must be balanced with more traditional scouting methods.
All in all, this was a pretty basic introductory press conference, but Pinto seems like the sort of pragmatic and calculated hire we'd expect from the Friedkin Group—and we mean that as a compliment. Friedkin's Roma project isn't even in its infancy, it's still in utero, so they need a steady hand to guide it not a ringleader prone to hyperbole.
In order for Roma to scale the peaks we all hope they'll eventually reach, they first need to establish a base camp. Without a guiding set of principles and someone with the temerity to see them through, we're destined for an infinite loop of stops and restarts, pauses and new projects.
Pinto is young, seemingly forward-thinking, and pragmatic. Time will tell if he's the right man for the job but with his club in the midst of a panicked fight for the top four, he needs to make his impact immediately by locking up key pieces like Mkhitaryan and Pellegrini and getting Fonseca the reinforcements he needs during the winter transfer window.
Welcome to Roma, Tiago. We need you to knock this out of the park, so good luck!