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Saturday March 9 2019
Roma shipwreck

Monchi and Eusebio Di Francesco may have come short at times, but Andrea Tallarita is disappointed to see another mutiny ruin Roma's long-term project.

In the short crossing from the wreckage of the derby to the close shores of the Empoli game, Roma threw overboard both captain and quartermaster: Coach Eusebio Di Francesco has been sacked, and sporting director Monchi rescinded his contract.

These events dominated the headlines of sports publications for the past 48 hours, but really this is hardly news. The sharks that follow the Roman vessel must be the fattest in all the seven seas, as more than one Coach per year plus countless staff and players get thrown their way. Even Francesco Totti was fairly chewed up when he made it to his port.

What is it about Roma that makes her so enamoured with mutiny, with cycles of self-destruction, with fire? I know of no other club in Europe with an environment so unforgiving, in which expectations are so tediously unrealistic, the air so rarefied, the pressure so intense. This really is a club of wolves, and its ferociousness consumes all would-be alphas, aborts continuity even those rare times when management isn't taking that task onto itself.

Monchi and Di Francesco were supposed to represent a clean break from that. When they stepped aboard in the summer of 2017, both refreshingly younger than their predecessors, it looked like the beginning of what would be a long and fascinating journey.

The Spanish sporting director wasn't recruited to beef Roma up: he was hired to heal her of her perennial malaise. He was at once therapist and surgeon, cooling the fever of his patient by removing the bulging hot-heads and the stars, reducing frenzy but gaining composure. Fans hated him for that, but then nobody likes going to the doctor, least of all the Lost Boys of that ineffable Neverland, Rome.

After years of sporting director Walter Sabatini, who chain-smoked his way through the club's finances by gambling every last penny before he earned it, Monchi managed something nigh-impossible: he fixed the treasury. In less than two years, Roma rode a wave from 24th to 15th in the list of the richest football clubs, sailed out of the Financial Fair Play shallows, secured two sponsorship deals, and finally slashed her deficit and debt. And this without a single brick of the property stadium yet laid down.

The process was painful, as outstanding players like Mohamed Salah and Alisson Becker had to be sold off to the highest bidder, but a new Roma was being built, and after a coherent vision: a core of highly promising youngsters propped up by a few cheap, excellent veterans, and more Italian blood than ever before. Sabatini used to speak openly of his disdain for potential Azzurri candidates, but Monchi knew these players had to be nurtured and not just purchased wholesale. That's where Di Francesco came in.

There is no need to revisit the career of this very perplexing Coach, who was able to break his hull against an Udinese raft on one day and sink the Barcelona battleship on the next. Let's just agree that he was good with youth, had guts to spare in the decisive moments, and was fantastic in Europe, even with a team so often broken down and put together again. But he was also middling-to-poor as a pure tactician, and his failure to marshal Roma's defensive line and hold on to leads might have cost him the bench in other clubs too.

Old-time Giallorosso DiFra was, in layman's terms, a good Coach – no more and no less. He was never going to be Pep Guardiola or Antonio Conte, but give this guy a team, and he'll do as well with it as may be expected. Yet it's unlikely that even the Napoleons of the sport could have bettered his achievements in the Champions League – in any case not with this team. That was entirely Eusebio's glory, and perhaps his legacy.

What made this Coach different was that he was young, flexible, willing to explore new ideas, and therefore promising. In this, he broke the rules of the Roman environment, which command a perpetual entropy, an endless collapse inwards rather than an expansion outwards. It was this philosophical distinction that saw Roma, under his lead, transcend their limits on the European stage and at one point outdo even Juventus to reach a Champions League semi-final.

Di Francesco was a man whose ambition bloomed quietly, who knew what it meant to plant seeds and wait for the harvest. His eye matched Monchi's vision, which explains why the Spaniard was so attached to Eusebio, even to the point of diving after him into the open sea. The ship they built together may have been ill-equipped, unsteady, and far from unsinkable, but for the first time in a city that knows all about time, it felt like it was taking us somewhere.

And so, in perfect Roman tradition, they're gone. The Spaniard went with a bang, getting in a row with fans at Porto Airport, while DiFra couldn't even manage a whimper, sliding away from Trigoria in the silence of his grey car. President James Pallotta proved himself a genuine Romanista in his impatience, but it all feels so been-there-done-that, so clotted and tired, like a passé comic strip that keeps rehearsing the same jokes.

As of today Roma are back in the safe, warm hands of old men. Once more as a Coach there is Claudio Ranieri, a battle-hardened boss adept of the old Italian art called losing with a smile, and maybe Walter Sabatini too, who surely can't wait to barter off all this painstakingly-assembled Italian talent.

Roma fans can look forward to three months of fighting for a place on the podium (that's a figure of speech – the fourth place is really not on the podium), and then more of the same, years of the same.

Our motto is Grazie Roma and we usually extend that kindness to those who served our cause. But I cannot bring myself to say this to you, Monchi, nor to you, DiFra. You showed me a door out of the old pantomime, and then defrauded me of its key. I am tired of sailing nowhere on a wind of talk, I have grown numb even to sharks and pirates.

Grazie for what, you moved on to where football happens and you left the rest of us here alone, trapped in this crowd that screams all the time and says nothing at all.

Have your say...
In the last year and a half, Roma have sold Allison, Emerson, Rudiger, Strootman, Naingolaan, Paredes and Salah. Every year, their policy is to sell their best players. It is irrelevant who their manager is. No manager can succeed when you are selling your best players and having to rebuild EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
on the 12th March, 2019 at 9:15pm
Monchi put together the slowest midfield in Europe, and you feel he was taking us somewhere? Even faster towards mediocrity you must mean.

Don't go blind on plusvalenza and a few young prospects in Zaniolo, Kluivert and Under. It is nothing less than a criminal act to buy Pastore, Nzonzi and Cristante for approx 90 mill. euros when your midfield already consists of DDR and Pellegrini! ZERO PACE! We get overrun all the time (Porto). Monchi has been a disaster, and set us back 2-3 transferwindows
on the 12th March, 2019 at 7:33pm
do you think the new coach has magic...
on the 12th March, 2019 at 4:06pm
Olsen
Florenzi - Manolas - Rugani - Grimaldo
Cristante - Pellegrini - Zaniolo
Under - Jovic - El Shaarawy

Rugani, Grimaldo and Jovic wouldn't come cheap, but offloading Fazio, Peres, Juan, Gonalons, Defrel, Sadiq, Dzeko, Pastore, Nzonzi and a few more would bring in the guts of 100m

There are a few decent Bosmans out there too like Herrera (of Porto), Godin (hard to believe they didn't go for him in Jan), Darmian etc who'd fill a few holes too.
on the 11th March, 2019 at 1:54am
Roma should get rid of dzeko, Fazio, karsdorp, Schlick and others. These players are failures and meteocore at best as you saw in Porto game. They need players with heart such as zaniolo Florenzi etc. in the end you need the will and heart without that the coach can only do so much. One other thing is Roma and Liverpool share a partner of ownership so look at that and you will find the transfer of players reasons.
on the 10th March, 2019 at 4:14pm
roma in the last 2 years have sold alison rudiger emerson strootman paredes nainggolan and salah. Surely expecting edf to make roma competitive after losing so many quality players was always unrealistic. Especially considering the recruitment lots of talented youngsters and target of opportunity more than a real transfer campaign to but the players roma needs. I feel for edf this was supposed to be his big opportunity to prove himself he was sabotage by his bosses.
on the 10th March, 2019 at 1:39am
edf is the real loss he didn't deserve to lose his job when the problems were fundamentally of monchi making to paint him as a success i would personally disagree. This is a man who green lighted deals to replace strootman with nzonzi to sell salah for 40 million. Sabatini record of buying players is miles ahead of monchi numerous flop who young prospect who never live up to their early potential. It just surprises me that anyone would consider monchi a success at roma.
on the 10th March, 2019 at 1:26am
They've been selling their best players for years and than buy inferior players and blame the coach for that. Its a disgrace.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:59pm
Roma were defensive and slow against Porto. And they are still fighting to break ground with their new stadium. They need to fix those things.
I wish Napoli, Roma, Lazio and Fiorentina would build new stadiums.
Inter and Milan too.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:07pm
Fantastic article.

Roma can't retain their stars until they have enough money to PAY HIGHER WAGES. It's DELUSIONAL to think Alisson / Salah would stay when they make double elsewhere. Relying on loyalty will only get you as far as Bilbao.

You Romanista think clubs willingly sell their stars? News flash - they have no brand power and NO MONEY! Can't pay them.

Roma need to grow a global brand. That's what separates Everton, Dortmund, Roma from Madrid, Bayern, Juve
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:05pm
To be fair, Roma climb from 24th to 15th place in Deloitte Money League was purely because of CL. Mochi "fixed" the Roma treasury by selling two players brought by Sabatini.
That said, I liked that Monchi gave more attention to Italian players, but to mixed success.
Patience was never Roma's game. Nor will it be. We Romanisti just have to bear with it...
on the 9th March, 2019 at 7:12pm
It's tough being a Roma fan. Been doing it for 15 years, and events like this week's are the norm.

I think people are too excitable. The model for Roma should be Arsenal. The goal should be to build the stadium, consistently get into the top 4, and occasionally have a good run in Europe or win the Copa.

Had EDF stayed and reached the 4th place, the season would have been a success. Even as it is, EDF got Roma to the semis of the CL - a spectacular achievement.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 5:35pm
Poor Roma manager as I felt that he should of been given till the end of the season as Claudio will not do any better ! The problem was with the players dezko was walking around against the Porto side who were there for the taking , the players looked sluggish and most Italians team do in Europe they struggle to keep pace . Fitness passing gritted teeth stuff we don’t have ! Look at Pepe 35 willing to get hurt and became the victor ! Eusebio should not get the sack and given another
on the 9th March, 2019 at 2:01pm
Some of the more successful modern football team in the later part of the first decade of the 21st century like CHELSEA, MADRID, BAYERN, ACMILAN, BARCELONA, INTERMILAN had crazy presidents and hierarchy who don't entertain sentiment but objectives! Berlusconi, Abramhovic, Perez, Moratti and Franz beckenbauer barring manutd..... This approach has brought on field success in these aforementioned teams like it or not because it keeps everyone on their toes! It's no wonder ARSENAL, JUVENTUS, even MANUTD post Ferguson had joined the cliques... Pallotta is right to axe Monchi but could have left Difra...imagine NZONZI, PASTORE, SCHICK, KARSDORP and OLSEN, terrible players and waste of money...if Roma wants to win they got to keep the Axe set against the tree swinging, swirling and sparkling
on the 9th March, 2019 at 12:30pm
As a non-Italian Roma fan through the past two decades, I've often wondered about what makes success in any form, not just trophies, so difficult in Rome and at Roma.

Only in the last couple of years have the answers clearly appeared to me. Perhaps I'm a slow learner, or that people sometimes don't want to see what's right before them.

This article dissects and describes Rome and Roma more accurately than anything I've read before, as hurtful as it is sometimes to see the truth..
on the 9th March, 2019 at 11:26am
Sad for EDF, but Monchi should have never even come here. He only bought players for profits, but the ones who were meant to strengthen the team were all flops
on the 9th March, 2019 at 11:15am
Roma needs people like Franco Sensi & Franco Baldini to be superior again. A club whose goal each season is to win a trophy or two.

Daje Roma !
on the 9th March, 2019 at 11:07am
When a team loses 7-1 and then 0-3 in a derby, to make it even worse fails to qualify in CL quarter final then of course, someone or two or more must take the blame.

Roma has been in shipwreck for the last 5 years or so, no matter what the excuses for selling its best players to balance the book or else, they shoulda replaced with someone on the same level or better, if the main project to nurture young players to make more profits in the future then forget to win any trophies each season.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 11:05am

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