Monchi

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Roma boss pens vivid 3,000-word open letter to fans

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Some fan bases probably wish their owner was as open as AS Roma’s James Pallotta, who has written a few thousand words on the struggles of i Lupi this season.

We can’t attest to how Roma’s supporters feel about Friday’s open letter, but neutrals will at the very least find entertainment in the American billionaire’s strong stance, vivid descriptions, and occasional NSFW language.

[ MORE: 3 key battles in UCL Final ]

Oh, and his defiance, via ASRoma.com:

“I understand the history of almost 3,000 years of Rome and I know how this works. If people think they’re going to drive me out, it’s just not going to happen.”

Pallotta has made no secret of his displeasure with Roma’s season, as the club finished sixth in Serie A and bowed out of the Champions League in the Round of 16.

That’s a far cry from last season, in which Roma came within one goal of stunning Liverpool in the UCL semifinal second leg and steadily rose up the table after a slow start.

This season saw the firing of the manager who engineered that rise, a sloppy handling of the end of club legend Daniele De Rossi’s tenure, and the maddening but necessary departure of a sporting director who Pallotta later claimed “had no Plan B.”

Pallotta, to his credit, is owning it. He’s putting plenty of blame on Monchi — now sporting director of Sevilla — who he brands “a mistake” without explicitly naming him, even in the removal of Di Francesco later in the season.

When things were going sideways, Di Francesco told us he may have lost the dressing room and if we think it’s time for him to go, then he will go without a fight. Di Francesco has always been first-class. He is a true gentleman. He was clearly put in what I think was a tough position this past year and was collateral damage. That’s something that we all regret.

Roma is without a manager now, but all is not lost; Roma finished three points out of third and scored the fourth-most goals in the league. It’s aging roster would look a lot better if Cenzig Under, Nicolo Zaniolo, and Justin Kluivert took the next steps in their development, which makes the next choice as manager even more crucial to the short-, medium- and long-term.

Pallotta perplexed at Monchi’s departure, said director had no ‘Plan B’

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AS Roma owner Jim Pallotta is set for a much different April than his previous one.

It was about 11 months ago that the American businessman was swimming in a Roman fountain following an upset of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

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Now, he’s fired coach Eusebio Di Francesco and watched as sporting director Monchi left his position for a spot back home at Sevilla.

And the latter part has him perplexed, especially as Monchi used his departure to say that Pallotta wanted to opposite of his sporting director.

Pallotta has taken the opportunity to explain his feelings via the Roma web site.

“In November, when our season was going from bad to worse and everyone could see that the coach was struggling to get a reaction out of the players, I asked Monchi for his Plan B should things continue to get worse. He had sole responsibility for football operations at Roma but he didn’t have a Plan B. That was November. He said his Plan B was just to keep doing the same as Plan A.

“So, if I read or listen to the radio interviews he’s giving where he says that the idea of the ownership was different to his and that is why he left, please let me know what Monchi wanted to do differently? He asked me to trust him and let him do it his way. We gave him complete control and now we have more injuries than we’ve ever had and are in danger of missing out on finishing in the Top 3 for the first time since 2014.”

Also notable, as Claudio Ranieri shepherds Roma through life without a permanent manager, are reports that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is Pallotta’s preferred next-in-line.

Calcio Mercato says Roma would offer the embattled Chelsea boss a path back to Serie A, where he shown with Napoli before being publicly courted by the Stamford Bridge set.

Roma is four points behind Milan and six back of third-place Inter, and is a Lazio win away from sitting sixth. I Lupi was stunned by Porto in the Champions League, and waxed by Fiorentina in the Italian Cup.

Napoli, Inter, and Juventus are still on Roma’s fixture list with 10 matches to play.

Ranieri takes charge of Roma; Monchi on his way to Arsenal?

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Claudio Ranieri was out of a job for just over a week.

After being fired by Fulham last Thursday, the veteran Italian coach has taken over at his former club AS Roma after they fired Eusebio Di Franceso on Thursday in the aftermath of the Italian giants losing at FC Porto in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Ranieri, 67, is a lifelong Roma fan and is returning home to Rome. He simply said: “I’m delighted to be coming back home. When Roma call you, it’s impossible to say no.”

This will be his second spell in charge of the Stadio Olimpico club, and his remit is clear: make sure Roma finish in the top four of Serie A and qualify for the Champions League. They are currently three points off the top four with 12 games to go.

“We are delighted to welcome Claudio Ranieri back to the club,” said AS Roma President Jim Pallotta. “We have one objective remaining this season and that is to finish in the highest possible league position and secure qualification for the Champions League. At this stage of the campaign, it was important to bring in a coach who knows the club, understands the environment, can speak the language and is able to motivate the players. Claudio ticks all of those boxes and he’s very excited to take on this challenge.”


There are plenty of ins and outs at Roma…

Roma’s sporting director Monchi left on Friday, as expected, and many believe he will now head to Arsenal to take up a similar position.

Monchi, 50, still had two years left on the contract he signed in 2017 after he was lauded for building a hugely successful squad at Sevilla during his 17 years as their sporting director.

Roma said in a statement that “the two parties have reached a mutual agreement to bring an early end to their professional relationship.”

Current Arsenal boss Unai Emery worked closely with Monchi at Sevilla, with Monchi getting Emery the players to build one of the top teams in Europe as they won three-straight Europa League trophies and competed regularly in the UEFA Champions League.

The Gunners’ head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat, left the club in February after just over a year in his position.

Monchi’s close relationship with Emery will be of huge importance to Arsenal, as they try to rebuild their team off the pitch with Ivan Gazidis also leaving for AC Milan in recent months.

Reports: Monchi to depart Roma after Di Francesco firing

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With the departure of Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco complete and Claudio Ranieri all but confirmed as his successor, there are rumblings that coveted sporting director Monchi is on his way out as well, and could be headed to the Premier League.

The Spaniard was involved in an altercation with Roma fans at the airport after the club crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of Porto. As the supporters heckled players and coaches, Monchi reportedly yelled back, “In six months I will take on each one of you one by one!” Monchi was forced to issue a half-apology on Instagram, saying he was sorry to those fans at the airport, but claimed “my words were reported incorrectly.”

Many have speculated since the incident that the altercation could prove the end of his time in the Italian capital, and that reports in late February linking him to Arsenal could come to fruition.

According to Italian publication Il Messaggero – a Roman-based newspaper – back on February 25, Monchi is set to leave the club within the next 24 hours and is close to an agreement with English side Arsenal. Spanish tabloid Marca reported the same three days earlier, although they gave Monchi until the end of June – when most European soccer contracts expire – at the Italian club. English publication The Independent claimed in late January that the club is consulting with manager Unai Emery on a replacement for the departed Sven Mislintat who they would like to replace as soon as possible. Emery worked with Monchi at Sevilla for three years, leading to the natural links.

However, now that things are getting heated between Di Francesco’s sudden departure and the incident at the airport, Italian reports claim that Monchi’s departure is imminent and coming soon. Both Corriere dello Sport and Tuttomercatoweb have claimed that the two parties will terminate Monchi’s contract by mutual consent, and Arsenal will ease the process by paying what essentially amounts to a $1.7 million release clause. His current contract runs through June of 2021.

Monchi grew in popularity when he took Sevilla from the Spanish 2nd division and built them into a top-half La Liga side with significant European success. He left Sevilla in 2016 after 16 years at the club, joining Roma and helping them reach the semifinals of the 2017/18 Champions League.

Roma lets loose on referee, from players to owner

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From the field to the board room, AS Roma is raging with Slovenian referee Damir Skomina after he denied multiple penalty shouts before granting one in stoppage time of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg between Liverpool and the Italian hosts.

[ MORE: Roma 4-2 (6-7 agg.) Liverpool ]

“It changes everything,” said Roma director of sport Monchi. “We conceded a goal that was offside in the first leg, here we had two penalties not given, one of which was a clear red card. … It’s time to raise our voices, not just Roma either, as Juventus suffered the same against Real Madrid. Italian football has to raise its voice, because what we saw tonight was shocking.”

Monchi points out that he’s spent the majority of his career in Spain, so this isn’t just pro-Italian refereeing. He’s going to find allies (!!!) in Juve, who grew enraged with English referee Michael Oliver after Real Madrid’s late penalty against the Turin powers.

The biggest gripe is with Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s handball block of a goal-bound effort, though Roma went on to score two more goals on the day including a penalty kick for a less clear handball against Ragnar Klavan.

Make no mistake, Liverpool did enough to deserve the win (even if Jurgen Klopp even admitted the Reds were lucky).

Roma defender Federico Fazio was also angry with the award of only three minutes of second half stoppage time.

And it went all the way to the top: American owner Jim Pallotta was enraged with Skomina.

“It’s absolutely clear that VAR is needed in the Champions League, because you can’t let stuff like this go,” Pallotta told reporters in the mixed zone, via Football Italia.

“You can all look at it yourself. Dzeko wasn’t offside, got taken down for a penalty. At the 65th minute, there was a handball that was obvious to everybody in the world except those on the pitch. In the 67th minute Schick gets taken down in the box, I mean it’s just… I know it’s difficult to ref, but it’s really embarrassing when we lose on aggregate like that… By the way, it should’ve been a red card, so would’ve been 10 men from the 63rd minute.

“Again, congratulations to Liverpool, they’re a great team, but if we don’t get VAR in the Champions League, stuff like this is an absolute joke.”

I Lupi manager Eusebio Di Francesco said protesting the uncalled penalties distracted from the comeback effort, and Roma legend Daniele De Rossi said the missed call was understandable, as he didn’t see it either. And he’s turned a bright light on his team’s performance.

“We’ve seen we’re not so far behind the others, so we must start thinking that Roma should have a Champions League semi-final once every three years, not once every 30. The club will work to make the team even stronger, the fans have followed us so passionately and something has been recreated with the fans that I haven’t seen since I was a child. Now we are all as one, we are united with the fans, and we can achieve great things together.”

Finally, this: