Blog by: Dhruv
It was back in the 2010-11 campaign that Juventus and Roma faced off at the Olympic Stadium in Turin for a place in the semi-finals of the much coveted Coppa Italia. That night, the Giallorossi came up trumps against a faltering Juve, coming out victorious courtesy Mirko Vucinic’s stunner and Rodrigo Taddei calm finish.
A stumbling empire stumbled further; since the Calciopolli rocked the core of football in the country in general and the club in particular, Juventus embarked upon a slump that culminated in the Club’s lowest league finish of recent times. On the other hand, the mood setting amongst the ranks at the Il Lupi radiated vibes of positivity and optimism of a bright future. Defiantly, the then president of the club, banished any chances of the Old Lady tasting the sweetness of success in the near future
Two years down the line, the statement now seems a foregone conclusion
Roma’s ownership changed hands in the summer of 2010, when the Sensi family relinquished their stake in the club due to financial issues. Rosella Sensi oversaw the transition of the club into American hands in the summer of 2011. James Pallotta, a Boston based investor acquired the club of the city of Gladiators with an aim of taking the club places. Thomas DiBenedetto, part of the consortium buoyantly expressed his ambitions for the club –
” We want everyone at these academies wearing Roma jerseys, so they, their friends and their relatives become Roma fans. This is how we hope to spread the Roma brand around the world.”
The extravagant recruiting campaign that saw the likes of Erik Lamela, Pablo Osvaldo and Bojan Krkic arrive also paved the way for the non-performers to leave, thereby rendering a completely new dimension to the playing squad. With the appointment of Barcelona legend Luis Enrique, the footballing brains at the helm of the Giallorossi diverted from the conventional philosophy of football in Italy, in hope of sustained success.
Two years down the line, not much seems to have changed for the club on the pitch. The ideologies of Enrique failed to make their mark on the club, and Zdenek Zeman’s haphazardly attacking approach to the game has ensured that the dream of multiple Scudetto’s and Champions League seems wishful thinking rather than practical feasibility till date. Drawing blanks in terms of Champions league qualification and any form of domestic honours has brought the words of DiBenedetto into the spotlight for critics. Failure to keep pace with eternal rivals Lazio has also brought the dagger of negativity and sour scrutiny out against the investors, the latest submission in the Coppa Italia final in the gallows of the Olimpico being the nadir of disappointment for the administration and fans alike.
The summer mercato has brought a further blanket of gloom for the Giallorossi. Despite making some astute signings in Kevin Strootman, Mehdi Benatia and Adem Ljajic, the Romanistis have been left to deal with the departure of a potential world class talent in Erik Lamela( one who was slowly edging his name alongside Fransesco Totti in the cult of Rome) Marquinhos and Pablo Osvaldo. A total re-coup of 80 Million sounds a good proposition economically but also de-rails the momentum of the club in the build-up to one of its most eagerly awaited seasons. Roma has always been a passion for its fans(just like any other club) and the mass protests by the people as they come to grips with the departures of three integral players to the team must hardly come as a surprise to Pallotta and DiBenedetto.
The bizarre transfer dealings of the club have left the team and the new manager resort to an increasingly frustrated Daniele De Rossi and the ageing legs of Fransesco Totti, who shocked everyone on the solemn occasion of the club’s kit launch by claiming that the new jersey would be his last for the Giallorossi. Even off the field, things do not seem to be on the positive side for the red half of the eternal city. The proposed plans for the new stadium suggested by the hierarchy seem to have taken a backside given the inception of the ‘Legge Stadi’ which imposes restrictions on the planning of the establishment of new stadia, and the reality of moving away from the Olimpico do not seem to be coming into fruition any time soon.
The entry of foreign investment into the tropics of Italian football gave a new lease of hope to a Calcio suffering from the symptoms of an identity crisis. The radiance of sheer optimism from the bosses at the Olimpico was billed as the beginning of a new era at the city of Gladiators –
“Only by being successful will we get a return on our investments. Our aim is to turn Roma into one of the biggest clubs in the world, a team that the city can be proud of, but naturally that will take a bit of time.”
Fast forward the reel to today, and the scheme of things seem to be on a downward spiral. The American dream has all but faded away for the Romanisti.