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An Open Letter to James Pallotta

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Because sometimes you just have to reach out and touch someone.

AS Roma v Juventus FC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

How have you been doing, Jim? Good? That’s great, man! How’s the family? Good, mine’s doing fine, as well. Thank you for asking. I came here because I wanted to discuss something with you. Don’t worry, I’ll be short; your time is certainly more valuable than mine–I’m just a writer and you’re handling the world’s most cataclysmic and bipolar football club, so I’ll try to be as brief possible.

Sit down and let’s discuss a bit about football, finance and whatnot. Have a cigar, if you will. Do you mind if I play some Pink Floyd? You don’t like it? The Wall it is, then!

Look, Jim, I get it: Roma ain’t easy. Never has been, never will be. Why? Beats the hell out of me, but that’s the way it goes in the Italian capital; it’s just the nature of the beast, I guess. Anyway, it’s important I start this conversation stating the obvious: I’m not here to antagonize you, my gringo friend.

See, for all the love Roma fans have for the Sensi family, you came at the right time: the club was having financial trouble and you have been working hard to fix that problem and you’ve done it, really. Sure, we might be short a Lamela or a Marquinhos, but at the end of the day you have turned Roma into a viable club with a (potential) good future. We now have a pretty good team, a good manager and with the possibility of a brand new stadium on the horizon, taking a page off J’s book, then the future does in fact looks bright for the nice guys in the capital.

And this is why I asked you to talk to me, Jim: all that can go to hell this summer. I’m not putting the blame on you because that’s how you have been working over the years, but a successful business such as yourself would understand how an enterprise can crash or rise based on specific decision, so I’ll be as blunt as I can possibly be: we are two or three decisions away from fucking things up.

I’ll start with the positives because, despite popular belief, Roma does have some good things going on for them: Monchi. I was one of the supporters who were rejoiced on the news that the now former Sevilla man was going to be Sabatini’s replacement and a vast improvement at that, if you ask me. Nothing against Saba, really; his Radjas, Manolas, Strootmans, Benatias, Marquinhos, Lamelas and others are a testimony of his eye for talent, but the Spaniard has been a world-class success at Sevilla and we are in a position where we cannot compete with J’s financial muscle (not as we speak, at least) and we need to be smarter, even cannier, if you will, in the transfer market and Monchi is the right to do just that. So, props at that one, good ol’ Jim.

I started with the Monchi part because I wanted to butter you up, Jim, but now I’ll discuss rougher stuff: Luciano. I know, he’s not perfect and he’s never going to be like that: his substitutions can be maddening, most of the time; he doesn’t play youngsters as much as we would like and he’s just as frustrated at not winning titles as we are, BUT (and this “but” is of the size of the Wall of Game of Thrones, Jim) he provides Roma with the football, the intensity and, yes, the quality to mount a serious title challenge. Yes, there are superior managers all around the world and I understand how you, a man that always strides for excellency, wants the finest, but there are no managers better suited for Roma than Spal. He gets Roma and that’s very important. And he has been working on the club for over a year and a half and we can certainly see the improvement, but it’s important, if we keep Spal (and you should), that we work on something else: the players.

The players, just like this club, are far from perfect but I can safely say we have a starting XI good enough to challenge J for the title, my American friend. But they succeeded at doing something we absolutely failed: squad depth and regularity. Since 2011 we have seen the BBC shielding Buffon at Juventus; since 2011 we have changed the defense pretty much every single year. And that’s only on the defense. I get it, we all make mistakes (Benatia) and sometimes it wasn’t even your fault (Marquinhos or Pjanic), but it’s important we stop this selling process and we begin to establish a serious core of players: most Roma fans are planning the next season without Manolas and we can discuss for hours about Radja’s future, despite how much he loves the club, so it’s important you understand that: a solid core of players is important for any kind of club and every kind of manager.

As for depth, I’d even dare to say that is the part where we lost this season: having players like Juan Jesus, despite him having some encouraging performances, and Thomas Vermaelen, a player that has gotten injured so much in recent years that I’m starting to think that he’s working secretly with the hospitals to extract money from his teams, as backups for our three (excellent) center backs is a serious problem. Having no backup for Dezko is worrying. Having no direct substitute for players such as Salah or Strootman can make or break a season, especially when you consider that the former went with his national team on January.

This is the area that has me worried, Jim, and, truthfully, I don’t see this changing this summer: I see Manolas leaving for sure (and please send him to England or Spain; he’s just too good to be playing with the wife-stealer at Inter) and I don’t know if a player such as Radja, a player that you can consider as the finest in Serie A, might be staying for another year. That’s when you enter to the stage, Jim, and do your magic; prove them that this team is seriously working towards the major goals (Serie A, Coppa, doing Champions League runs) and try to keep this (good) core of players for at least another. Do for your buddy Kev, what do you say?

But this is the most important part, Jim, and I want you to leave with this in your mind, alright? Alright, then here it goes: I can live with Roma not winning titles every year. I learnt long ago that enjoying good football, seeing fantastic footballers with the Roma shirt and playing great, fighting for titles despite not winning them and having a consistent of core of players is something I can live with; at the end of the day, if you have all those things, you are going to win titles, one way or another. But I want to see that intent and those intentions of aiming for the top coming from you, and letting go of Luciano, selling key players and whatnot are decisions that only affect Roma and its future. And that affects in the economic area, as well, because a team that is performing on the pitch would not increase in terms of revenue, shirts sold, rating on TV and on the internet, etc. The football must come first, even for a business man such as you.

That’s all I wanted to tell you, Jim. I hope you liked The Wall. Take care, my friend.

PS. Call the new stadium Ill Francesco Totti. And when they ask on your latter years why you did that, say “any man or woman who can put up with Roma for over almost three decades deserves to have a stadium named after him or her”.