I’m not certain why so many people care so deeply about the manner in which Roma spends their money and the personnel decisions they make therein (I’m including myself in the ‘so many people’, fyi), but nothing stirs up emotions quite like a transfer, either ingoing or outgoing. Whether Roma is parting with a fan favorite or an up and comer, or even when they bring in fresh blood, it’s never a cut a dry affair. Either they’re destroying the very fabric of the team by spinning off prized assets, or they’ve lost their ever-loving minds by paying x amount for any given player.
So, yeah, even I, as a pretty harsh and vocal critic of James Pallotta, can admit that he’s in a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position, but my sympathy only extends so far. As we’ve mentioned several times over the years, Pallotta can’t seem to get out of his own way. Remember the “We’re not going to sell Pjanic and Nainggolan” claim from a few years ago? How’d that work out?
While it’s true that he didn’t sell Pjanic and Nainggolan, it’s claims like these that lead so many to poke holes in his otherwise well-reasoned arguments. But if sports fandom didn’t operate on emotion and hyperbole, the very concept of professional sports might not exist. Without that fanaticism, there are no multi-billion dollar TV deals, no summer tours, no million dollar player contracts, none of it. So when Pallotta, or any executive for that matter, rails against fans lack of understanding, he is in some sense biting the hand that feeds him. Of course, you can argue it both ways, but then that creates a maze of circular logic that gives me a headache just typing it.
So why bring all this up? Well, earlier today Pallotta spoke to the mutual frustrations of fans and owners regarding the recent sales of Miralem Pjanic and Mohamed Salah.
Things aren’t as simple as a player goes or we transfer him. Let me give you an example. There’s a frustration on my part that people say Roma are a supermarket....When you think about it, Pjanic had a release clause and he had to go. Salah is tearing up the Premier League, he said he wanted to leave and had no time left on his contract, so we had no choice.
There are things that go on behind the scenes that people don’t realise, as either players want to leave or there are things we have to do. We’re not just trying to sell players.
There’s nothing wrong with any of that on the surface, but again, by making such bold proclamations that they’re “not going to sell_____” , only to contradict himself later, he opens himself up for criticism and drains the reserve of sympathy anyone might have for his plight. Those edicts, in turn, lead to cries of derision and “supermarket” accusations when they turn out to be short sighted or, you know, bullshit.
After rationalizing Monchi’s rough first summer at the helm, Pallotta spoke effusively about Cengiz Ünder and Alisson:
Cengiz Under is really starting to play pretty well. He scored a really, really pretty goal for Turkey. We have Under locked up, we have a five-year deal with him. It’s similar to Alisson, people saying the same sort of thing. I’ve been a fan of Alisson since the first day he’s been with us and am glad he’s finally been able to show how good he is, as he’s been incredible for us.
That “same sort of thing” is presumably the assumption that one or both will be sold this summer, and while he didn’t issue a flatout denial like he did with Pjanic, given all that has transpired the past few years, I sincerely hope he’s not surprised that people are fearing a repeat of the past couple of summers.
Pallotta would, in the very next breath, discuss Roma’s on-going FFP issues, saying simply that there is “a little more work” to do—so if you’re a skeptic connecting the dots, there’s not much space between that “same sort of thing” feared by the fans and the club’s cryptic “little more work to do.”
I’m not quite sure what to make of all this, but sometimes Pallotta reminds me of Michael Scott.