Roma have their man, now they must stick by him and build something stable for the future
Earlier this week, Roma completed their main signing as they look to build a brighter future with a new stadium where they can finally compete as true equals with the all-conquering Juventus. Monchi comes into the role as an unusually high-profile addition from Sevilla after weeks of speculation in the position of sporting director.
The Giallorossi have recently seen Walter Sabatini and Franco Baldini in the role with both in charge of transfers for relatively long periods of time. Sabatini flipped a remarkable 100 players which boosted the club’s finances even if they’ve been unable to kick on on the pitch.
There were expensive mistakes such as Juan Iturbe or Seydou Doumbia but the majority of signings were good and Monchi with his eye for diamonds in the rough will be eager to pick up the next Radja Nainggolan or Erik Lamela. As if ever the case in the role, they both had hit and miss records but there were probably more successful buys even if it’s now up to Monchi to fire the Giallorossi into Europe’s elite.
Roma are keen not to be held prisoner by Italian resistance to change with their American owners and stadium plans and Monchi looks to be a step in the right direction. They just need to hold their nerve now and back their man. Somebody who unearthed Sergio Ramos, Ivan Rakitic and Grzegorz Krychowiak, along with the current AC Milan and Roma stalwarts Carlos Bacca and Federico Fazio on the cheap clearly knows what they’re doing. The Andalusians won eleven cups during his tenure. It’s obvious that he knows what he’s doing and Roma must ignore the temptation to hold his hand and allow him to do as he sees fit. There will be difficult moments as the club is modernised by they must persist and not look to Monchi as a scapegoat following the inevitable future setbacks.
While there is a lot of excitement at Monchi’s arrival, it could take some time to adapt. He was a one-club man at Sevilla which goes well with the club of Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi but it also means he will have to acclimatise quickly to a new country under a weight of expectation. Totti’s imminent retirement and move into upstairs ushers in a symbolic new era for the club so there will be a potentially difficult period of radical change to get through.
As a veteran of the Italian game, Zdenek Zeman criticised his appointment as somebody with no prior links to the country. It shouldn’t matter but Italian football is still conservative. Monchi clearly knew what he was doing at Sevilla as the club punched above its weight with three Europa League titles since 2010 while Roma have underperformed in continental football. While Monchi’s fresh approach should be a welcome bonus, there is a risk of resistance in a country which is traditionally resistant to change and that could complicate transfer negotiations with fellow Serie A sides.
It will have to be a fully committed endeavour. Monchi will require a wide scouting network so he can buy cheap and sell high when the time’s right. At Sevilla, the club had a huge number of youth players across the teams and Roma have been producing a large number of players across the league. Players such as Valerio Verre, Lorenzo Pellegrini or Federico Viviani have all come through to be decent Serie A players after being tipped for better things and Roma will want to do more with their own youth products. Alessio Romagnoli is the star who got away and there’s work to be done to make sure such things don’t happen again.
The Giallorossi have shown that they are serious about competing with Juve by making the same steps forward as their Turin rivals. Building the stadium was, still is and will continue to be an administrative nightmare thanks to the joys of local government but the club are still going through with it.
Even in other aspects of modern football such as the use of social media in various languages, they’re one of the best in Serie A. The only thing lacking has been silverware as they’re better than the rest but still behind a freakishly strong Juventus. The new stadium will be a drain on finances so Monchi seems the ideal option to tie down talented and affordable players at a time when the club won’t just be able to buy established stars.
Monchi is the right man for the job. Everything is in place for the club to enter a new golden age with the new stadium and Totti hanging up his boots as the emotional end of an era. Now, it’s time for Roma to hold their nerve and stick with their plan. Lots is changing behind the scenes and there will be turmoil. If Roma can ride that, they’ll be the only club able to fight with Juve on their own terms.
With Luciano Spalletti’s future still uncertain, now is the time for Roma to really commit to a project after a few positive if unspectacular campaigns. Once that situation is sorted, the club must be ready to place its unwavering faith in Monchi so that he can bring in the players to help the club kick on a notch. Europe will be key. Monchi’s done it at Sevilla and now the Roma directors must allow him to turn around a side that’s been more famous for losing 7-1 in Europe as continental glory has looked some way off.