Walter Sabatini’s Departure Marks Completion Of James Pallotta’s Revolution At Roma

Corriere dello Sport (R.Maida) Without Sabatini, Roma are no longer the same. That is a fact, not just words: with the sporting director’s departure, every single position within the club hierarchy has now changed since the first structure was put into place by the American owners. The exceptions, among all the changes to players, coaches and directors, are the club icons Totti and De Rossi together with third choice keeper Lobont. The rest has been a revolution in personnel and technology, which hasn’t been accompanied by the “cultural revolution” that Sabatini himself referred to on the day he left.

At Trigoria, seeing people unpack their bags then pack them up again is almost a way of life. Other than the 3 players who have stayed, and indeed who have all been at the club since the Sensi era, Mauro Baldissoni is naturally also still in his position, given that he was one of the men who played a key role in negotiations that brought about the club’s acquisition by James Pallotta’s group. At the time, however, he wasn’t general director but a member of the board. The general director at that stage was Franco Baldini, who recently returned as an external advisor, working from his base in London.

There was, in fact, even a different president in 2011, the quirky Thomas DiBenedetto, who was the least financially involved out of the four investors. DiBenedetto flew from Boston in economy class, he took photos doing an impression of Popeye in front of the Capitoline wolf, and he met with officials purely with the brief of being a representative. After a year, Pallotta decided to take on the responsibility himself and assumed the position of president, and his role is completely different.

In the meantime the coach (Luis Enrique) had already changed, together with his entire coaching staff that he had brought with him from Spain, including the young fitness coach Cabanellas, as well as the communications staff, which had also seen a number of changes in the preceding years. But the real revolution was only just beginning – during the course of the next few months, Pallotta made changes to the board of directors, bringing in Italo Zanzi from the United States to replace Claudio Fenucci, who is now at Bologna together with the commercial director of the time, Christoph Winterling. Zanzi later left Roma together with another long-term collaborator of Pallotta’s, Mark Pannes, who first left his role with the club and then his role in the project for the new stadium. Currently, or more accurately for the last month, Roma’s number 2 is Umberto Gandini, formerly a director at Milan.

Given that the results in many areas weren’t satisfactory, Pallotta got involved in reshuffling the medical and fitness staff, putting a system that he had confidence in rather than what the various coaches wanted into place, and investing in infrastructure to improve the facilities at Trigoria. In total, 2 managing directors (3 if we count Pannes), 2 commercial directors, 2 communication directors, 2 medical teams, and 4 coaches with their respective assistants have all gone. Along the way, Roma have bought and sold 164 players, an average of 32.8 a season, excluding deals relating to the youth teams (speaking of which, Bruno Conti was replaced in being responsible for the youth sector by Massimo Tarantino). The last survivor of the players bought by Sabatini during his first summer at Roma left last summer: that was Pjanic, who left for Juventus.

Despite making so many changes, Roma haven’t won anything. If we compare their changes with Juventus, who have been champions of Italy for the last 5 years, it may help to make things clear: since 2011, the club’s structure has always been the same, from Agnelli and Marotta to the managing director Mazzia and sporting director Paratici, and in fact 6 key players have also stayed where they were: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Marchisio and Lichtsteiner. Padoin and Caceres finally gave up last summer and moved elsewhere. That’s why Juventus are such an obstacle.


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