Thursday July 31 2014
The American Dream

Roma’s games in the USA are an appropriate starting point for a season that may see them cement a new identity, says Andrea Tallarita.

This summer AS Roma President James Pallotta appears to be developing a resemblance to an F. Scott Fitzgerald character. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars, wrote the American novelist of Jay Gatsby. Change the ‘blue gardens’ for a green turf and the rest falls into place: the whisperings are those of the mercato, the champagne is that of Coach Rudi Garcia’s football, and the stars – well, the stars could be the players, but also those on the American flag.

Make no mistake, the most significant aspect of Roma’s 1-0 victory over Real Madrid two days ago was not the form of the team, nor its tactics, nor its individual players. Rather it is the increasing internationalisation, or should we say Americanisation, of this particular group of players. Even for a pre-season warm-up tournament like the Guinness International Champions Cup, Roma looked quite relaxed, almost – and fittingly – at home.

Pallotta more so than anyone else, as he took the opportunity to talk big - or talk smack - and claim that his team can compete for both the Scudetto and the Champions League. Moreover, he chose to put down the candidate for the FIGC presidency Carlo Tavecchio: “Our position has been clear for a long time now: I don’t understand how he can be a candidate. He is not our President. And I don’t understand how other clubs can support him at all.”

These words – and the philosophy, the attitude, the approach that these words belie – are uncommon in Italian football. The peninsula discourse is usually much more subtle (Andrea Agnelli), or so blustery that it verges on self-parody (Aurelio De Laurentiis). It is seldom direct.

If the words seem to hold no significance to you, if the where and the how of Roma’s current summer games seem not to matter, then consider the Juan Manuel Iturbe affair, and the plans for the new stadium. One could talk endlessly about the formation, the mercato and the Scudetto, but the one common thread of the Roman summer is this - the Giallorossi are donning a new face. Or at least they’re preparing for it. And what this season will test, or begin to test, is the identity of what can now truly be called Pallotta’s Roma, as the political and commercial strategies pursued by the club are truly coming into their own and are therefore increasingly accountable.

What are the risks? The silverware at stake should not be of concern, at least not as long as the team plays for a magnified pint of Guinness. The matter of concern is how Pallotta’s Roma will clash with the rest of Italian football. Because more and more this looks like a new team, like a new idea of a team. They say that when a new element comes into an environment, the environment can do one of two things - reject the element or change to accommodate it. This is but one of the arenas where the conflict will play out this year. Be prepared for a silent war.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
A Roma fan my entire life. Yes, there is change and globalization, new playing styles and new faces, a new badge and commercialization. But, Roma is still our Roma. We support the colors of the shirt and what it represents. Without change like this we may never win anther Scudetto (and forget about ever competing in the Champions League). I miss the Spaletti Roma, who doesn't, but we support more than the coach or the individual players on the team. We support the city and the Roman spirit
on the 2nd August, 2014 at 3:39pm
I used to be a huge Roma fan - proud to see the innovative exciting football they would play under Zdeman and Spalletti, and rejoiced when they won Lo Scudetto in 2001.
Now they are enjoying similar success, but at what cost?
They are a brand now, one I can't identify with, it's not the same Roma I loved. The badge has changed, the club's charm was removed - an American-run franchise.
The way to the top isn't to sign the top club's rejects.
Roma and Napoli won't do much in Europe this year.
on the 1st August, 2014 at 8:45pm
Roma and Inter, and to an extent Napoli, progressing and taking Italian football to a new level. The rest of the teams still stuck in the corrupt Italian past.
on the 1st August, 2014 at 5:46pm
I havnet been this excited for a season to start since we signed Batistuta. It feels like that the starts have definitely aligned and this could be our season. Forza la magica!
on the 1st August, 2014 at 4:01am
this roma team at the moment is built to challenge for the scudetto. in my opinion, so far, i think pallotta, rudi garcia and the players have ALL been doing an excellent job. no complaints here. lets hope these positives continue. maybe this season will be an eye opening, successful season for roma. bocca al lupo
on the 31st July, 2014 at 3:55pm
Cont'd -the history of this great club, the fans espeically the curva sud who live and breath the clubs every move and the passion and love that this team brings to the city of Rome.
on the 31st July, 2014 at 3:38pm
Cont'd - If Roma were staying in a hotel in Toronto there would be thousands outside there hotel waiting for pictures. People in the US still don't know this team and it will take some time before Roma becomes a household name in the US. It's great to see Soccer growing in the US but it's still has a ways to go before people truly understand the game, it's players and the true passion of the sport. I applaud Mr. Palotta for what he is doing more for the team but I hope he doesn't forget
on the 31st July, 2014 at 3:34pm
I'm front Toronto and my family drove to Boston last week to watch the Roma vs Liverpool game as we are huge Roma fans. While in Boston we ran into one of the Roma players who invited us back to the hotel the team was staying at to meet the rest of the players. When we got there we were shocked that we were the only fans there. We had no trouble walking into the lobby where the team was and taking pictures with the team. What I'm trying to say is that ths team is defintely not yet "Americanized"
on the 31st July, 2014 at 3:22pm
A very good article. as an American, I am impressed by what Pallotta has done to "Americanize" this team, and the attitude he brings to the table. His agreements with Disney, Nike, and tours & training in the USA are all very positive moves for a team that wasn't known here a few short years ago. The only negative I have seen is the changing of the badge. They should have left the original logo and just changed the "ASR" to "Roma 1927". The new stadium project is also a huge step forward....
on the 31st July, 2014 at 1:26pm

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