Roma President James Pallotta praised Monchi and Eusebio Di Francesco, sees Lorenzo Pellegrini as the future of the club and aimed a few sideswipes his former staff.
The Bostonian sat down for a lengthy interview with Sports Illustrated after a strong start to the season both domestically and in Europe.
“I think our goal going back to the beginning was to consistently try to get into Champions League. Which clearly wasn’t easy the first few years or so. But we did it three times out of the four and one Europa [League].
“We’re still trying to get a team for the Scudetto. It took a little time to learn some things and a bit more of a philosophical change too in how we’re managing the football operations side of it.
“I think Monchi is making that change, and that stuff takes a little time. But we had some things we had to work through. I think we did some very good things in the last three or four years, and we did some things that weren’t great. You just try and improve. We had a lot to learn. I had a lot to learn. But I think we’re getting there.”
Pallotta aimed a few sideswipes at former director of sport Walter Sabatini.
“We feel like we’ve given up many times on our youth. I’m not sure if I’m right, but I’m pretty sure we’re No. 6 in terms of supplying talent to other teams around Europe.
“You take a look at someone like Pellegrini, who we had loaned out before, and I’m not sure with Monchi there we would have done the same thing. We might have, to give him more playing time. But to me he’s an extremely important piece of Roma for the next decade. And we want to make sure that players like that, young players, that they stay with Roma and understand that Roma wants them. So how we go about doing that I think is a little different from probably before.
“There were plenty of other big teams that I know wanted (Monchi) for more money. He liked what we were talking about, and there were a bunch of things he’s had to do and clean up.
“He had a very hard-working summer, and we still have some ways to go on some stuff. But I have a good relationship with him. I think he’s been great for the team, and he’s a players’ guy. He can have conversations with the players and the Coach and the staff. So from that point of view, having complete faith in that, it’s been great. He’s at least what I thought and expected, if not more.”
There is also a new Coach at the helm, as Di Francesco’s only real previous experience was at Sassuolo.
“The last couple years we liked the way he played and thought. But coming into Rome, the good thing is he played at Roma, so he understands the difficulties in Rome from the derby to just being in Rome sometimes with all the media looking at you and all the radio and TV stations. And he understands it. He handles it.
“I think he’s turned out to be incredibly flexible. When we had conversations with him in the summer, he said this is the style I play, and this is what I play. Within a game or two, you saw the adjustments that he makes. And while he does have his basic style, you have to really like what he’s been doing. When we can go to Chelsea and play the way we did [in a 3-3 tie], sometimes in the past you’d look at it and go, ‘Here we go again.’
“And his rotations are great. We realized we had to get deeper this year, and we got substantially deeper. He’s utilizing players a lot. You look at somebody like Gerson, who people think is just a midfielder, and he comes in and plays right forward and scores two goals. And you go, maybe he’s better as a forward!”
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