AS Roma never seems to be short on drama, and after a sluggish start to the season capped by a rather tepid performance against Atletico Madrid in Tuesday, one in which they surrendered 20 shots on goal despite winning the possession battle, the pressure around Trigoria has once again been ratcheted up. To say the first month of the Eusebio Di Francesco regime has been tense is a massive understatement.
While many fans and pundits surrounding the club had reservations about EDFs appointment to begin with, in the wake of the Atletico match it seems as though this trepidation towards EDFs tactics has spilled over to the team itself...maybe.
In the immediate aftermath of their nil-nil draw against Atletico on Tuesday, Edin Dzeko, the man without whom Roma would have been lost last season, voiced some concerns about the club’s current tactics when asked to compare his performance under EDF vs Luciano Spalletti:
It’s just the beginning. I scored many goals last season, this year it’s tougher and I didn’t touch the ball many times tonight. Hopefully in the next few games I can get more touches so I can score some goals.
We feel the absence of Mohamed Salah and also Checco (Totti), while Radja Nainggolan played closer to me too. Now they are all a little more distant from me than they were before, but we’re getting used to it.
While we’ve certainly seen worse verbal jabs than that, Dzeko openly comparing Spalletti and Di Francesco’s tactics, particularly as they relate to Nainggolan’s role and Dzeko’s subsequent output, is a bit concerning. Dzeko later backtracked those comments, claiming they weren’t criticism and intimating that they merely spawned from frustration. Far be it from us to apply meaning to Dzeko’s own words, but something about his post match comments echoes the old adage a drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts. Dzeko was remarkably candid after that Atleti match, so while we should take him at his word about the nature of those remarks, the mere fact that he made them gave credence to many of EDF’s detractors and has served to once again stir up some drama.
But the parade didn’t end there. As he so often does, club president James Pallotta chimed in following an extended absence from the club. After Tuesday’s Champions League opener, Pallotta voiced his displeasure with Roma’s current state of affairs:
I’m not happy. I could say a couple of things that we could’ve done better, but it’s not easy to play after such a long break.
Again, nothing major there, but when the man in charge says he’s not happy and makes cryptic claims about things they could have done better, one’s ears tend to perk up. But this is really just par for the course for the Pallotta administration; complain about the progress of the club, make excuses and offer no solutions.
Uncle Jimmy later hit back at those who claimed he was tearing down Di Francesco:
There’s a tendency to invent things in Rome I woke up this morning and read this thing, it was a total shock to me. I’d like to challenge this journalist to a face-to-face meeting, where he can give his evidence of what I told the team.
I’m happy to offer him dinner and $50,000, I’m really tired of these people.
Without knowing exactly to whom Pallotta is referring, it’s a bit hard to interject anything here, but it was nice of him to offer dinner at least.
Pallotta continued describing the actual nature of his post match complaints:
What I complained about was that when I looked at the replays we could have had a penalty in our favour in the first half, and one in the second half.
I’m very happy with Monchi and Di Francesco’s work. I reiterate my invitation to this journalist to prove the opposite. It’s good for Roma fans to have a precise outline of those who want to tear Roma down.
I’m sick and tired of this, but if I have to intervene every day to refute this kind of invention then I’ll do it
From these remarks to the site of Kostas Manolas openly complaining during the run of play, leaving the barn door open for Atletico’s frontline in the process, if there is one thing Roma does well, it’s complain. Between the sophmorish betting/challenges to the claims that Roma fans need to know who “want to tear Roma down” Pallotta seems to have learned a few lessons from today’s politicians, attacking/challenging the media as a means to divide the fanbase, attempting to curry favor by positioning himself as the last bastion of honesty and sincerity.
After assessing Roma’s performance against Atletico, surmising that a 0-0 draw against a recent Champions League finalist was actually a decent result (it was), Pallotta refused to discuss the importance of the next month of fixtures, preferring to once again remind us all of his grand plans:
I don’t want to look at the next month, we’re trying to build something long-lasting, and in the coming months there will be positive, definitive news on the stadium.
Wash, rinse and repeat. We’ve been going through these motions for six years now.
Sure, things aren’t going our way right now, but that’s not our fault, we should have had a penalty! We actually didn’t lose against a good team! Things are going great, guys. Just wait until we have our stadium! I dare you to prove me wrong, I’ll give you dinner!
Change the fucking record, James. Granted, Roma isn’t the safest environment in which to own and operate a football club, but as the years roll by, the more apparent it is that this man simply can’t get out of his own way.
God help us all if Roma slips up against Verona, then things will really go full tilt. Of course, if they wax Verona 3-0, then prepare yourself for an onslaught of hyperbole.
But that’s our Roma, and really, would you have it any other way?